Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The MetroDBITan student series: Issue #032 - Htet

Time flies and we are already into issue #032 of MetroDBITan! :)

To me, it means that I have been humbly given the chance to know on a much more deeper level, these 32 students being interviewed.  Very often, each write-up is a profound learning experience for me.

I am particularly touched by the candidness displayed by Htet, our cover model for this month.

Listening to her honest and unreserved sharing of how she did not have such a wonderful primary school life nor secondary school, I realized that behind the pleasant and courteous girl I had taught while she was in Year 1, there is a sombre story that belied the usual cheerfulness she displays in front of us.

Thanks for being very open about your experiences, Htet!

We are really happy to be able to feature her this month, and I hope the readers here, will enjoy reading her account of her life thus far, as much as I enjoyed compiling and penning it down here :) 


Htet, what's your primary school days like?

I was from Fuhua Primary School and I was very reticent and shy. Up from Primary 1 to Primary 3, I was always the quietest in my class. For every progress report, my teachers never fail to leave a remark to tell me to speak up more as I was too quiet.

In Primary 4, came my moment. I participated in the school’s Sports Day and ran for the 200m track race and got second, very close in range to the champion. As a result, one of the Track and Field teachers who were talent-spotting during the event visited my class one afternoon to persuade me to join the Track & Field CCA. I felt very flattered and took it up without hesitation.

I was in the girls’ team for the 400m relay race as the first runner and helped to win several awards for the school. However, as the trainings grew more and more tiring and mundane as I weren’t close to my team mates either, I no longer enjoyed the CCA and I started skipping trainings.

Not surprisingly, the Track & Field teachers came hunting me for me, as much as I tried to avoid them in school as possible. It was a very miserable time for me in Primary 5 and Primary 6 as I dreaded every training that was to come. All in all, I never really enjoyed my time in primary school. Even though I was always receiving awards and had my photo up in the school hall with my team mates, I did not particularly enjoy my time there.

Language wise, I always spoke Chinese to my primary school friends from Primary 1 to Primary 4. However, it was only in Primary 5, when I started to speak English more as I realized I really needed to improve my English. I was also a Harry Potter fanatic at the point of time, and admired the Harry Potter crew, and it fuelled me to speak more English.

My hard work paid off as I almost always was in the top few in my class for my English papers. My speaking improved tremendously and I was also selected to be in some school competition with regards to speaking English. I had a lot of close friends in Primary 4, but after I became one of the only 2 students in my class who were streamed to EM1, I had to move to the 2nd top class in Primary 5. As a result, I left behind a lot of close friends and I became very withdrawn and antisocial in my new class in Primary 5 and 6.

My close friends in Primary 4

I was doing very well in other papers like Science and Math in Primary 6 and my form teacher had a lot of expectations for me. However for PSLE, I guess I didn’t study as hard for it as I should and I only managed to get A Star for my English, and As and Bs for my Science, Chinese and Math. In the end, I only scored an aggregate score of 230, which I cried particularly hard over, knowing I underperformed.

Share stories and photos about your school days in secondary school

After finishing my primary education, I then went to Bukit Batok Secondary School.

In Secondary One and Two, I was very quiet and socially awkward yet again and had very few friends.

It was only in Secondary Two when I topped the class and got 12th in the whole cohort ranking among 240 students that really got the attention from my classmates. I felt people treating me differently having gotten such good results.

However in Secondary 4, my results dropped drastically.

I was in NPCC (National Police Cadet Corps) at that point of time and had made a bunch of close friends with my uniformed group members. Having deprived of a clique and fun-filled relationships in school for so long in my secondary school life, I felt that NPCC provided me with something that I've wanted all along. The close bond with my members was something I particularly treasured.

My friends were very good friends. They weren't a bad influence or anything but to me, because I finally got company that I had been yearning for so long, my aim in life shifted drastically towards friendship and no longer grades.

Although I was faring poorly in my cohort ranking in Sec 4, my English and Humanities grades were consistently good. My English essays were often lauded by my English teachers and chosen to be the model essay to be frequently passed around the whole cohort.

Share some memorable moments of your teenage years

My best friends, May and Yechin whom I have been friends with for almost 12 years are from the same Primary School as me. Ever since Primary school, we have all been split up into different schools, but we still meet up regularly and know each other very well.

Yechin is also currently studying at Singapore Polytechnic as a Year 3 this year in International Business. She’s the top student with GPA 4.0 and she also chose to go to SP even though her ‘A’ Level results were good enough to go into a local university. She was one of the reasons why I was brave enough to withdraw from my SIM Degree course which I have paid $6000 for the first semester and then go back to pursue a Diploma course in SP.

As most of my SP friends know, I went to JC right after my 'O' Levels and to summarise it. I had a really good time there despite my appalling grades. I was very close and had a lot of fun with my classmates. It was a very different experience from Secondary and Primary School whereby I always kick-start school with my socially-awkward and shy nature.

For JC, I was loud and sociable and was very happy. But I guessed I socialised too much and was too addicted to the internet and hardly studied throughout my JC years. My JC friends think I study really hard but that was only an impression they got from me when I am in school. Whenever I got home after school however, I practically didn't do any work at all and just surf the internet. I was also in the House Council (one of the portions under Students’ Council) and was quite a busy student as well with my CCA.

My JC Classmates: A fun bunch that I terribly miss

Why did you choose the DBIT course? 

Honestly when I heard that not many people chose DBIT as their first choice, I was really surprised.

To me, I see it as a holistic course that will open up one’s path to abundant opportunities due to the combined learning experience of both IT & Business.

When I first came across the SP website on the DBIT course, I was so convinced that this course was for me that I gave up on the Communications Degree course I was pursuing in SIM even though my mum had already paid $6000 for the first semester.

I fought hard to come for this course, despite the negative judgments from friends and discouraging comments from my family that followed after.

While I was attending the Communications course in SIM, I did fairly well and enjoyed writing, which was the main reason why I took it up, knowing that I have a flair for the English Language. However, as the first month passed by, I did some research on my own about what I could do with a Communications Course in the future and realized that it was not something I want to do in my future career.

You could say that at the point of time, I was already leaning towards the idea of having a more IT-related career. I was particularly interested in IT and saw myself as someone who could really become good in it.

I did not enroll in other IT-related courses in SIM mainly because I was prowling through forums for opinions at the time, and the negative comments on forums like BrightSparks influenced me into thinking that a private degree would not bring me far. Additionally, the cost for a private degree is too much for my parents if I were to pull through with it for the whole three years.

Hence, I enrolled for DBIT. I decided to take a longer educational route so that I can go into a prestigious University. I felt the investment would be more worth it than if I were to go to SIM. I wanted to go to Business Information Technology because I was curious about the idea of entrepreneurship combined with the use of IT as I aspired to become a successful entrepreneur and IT was a field I was interested in.

Share your experience and tips about transiting from secondary school to pol.ytechnic

As I have mentioned earlier, I went to JC before coming to polytechnic.

I would say that JC would not have been that tough and heavy with work load if I had put in effort to be a good student and study hard and do revisions regularly (which I did not do at all at that point of time). I wasn’t that interested in the subjects that I was studying in JC, and was practically not driven at all to succeed at that time, causing me to flunk my ‘A’ Levels. Nearing my exams in JC, I was still distracted and busy surfing the internet for long hours.

Many have the mistaken idea that Polytechnic life is more slack but those who have been to Poly know that is not true at all.  Coming from someone who has been through both the Poly and JC routes, please do listen to my kind advice that the Poly route is not a route that you can slack in, especially if you want to go to a local university.  We are always loaded with assignments and homework and our CCAs.

However, one thing about poly is that if you enjoy studying the course that you are studying, school will not be as tough as you think. Moreover, when it comes to studying for mid-semester tests and exams, poly students definitely have it easier than JC students as it is much easier to score and get an A for a paper than in JC.

When I was in JC, it was not that easy to pass or get a decent grade, especially if you had only studied the day before. For Poly, I still think it’s important to study days ahead of an exam, but the content is definitely not as heavy as what many ‘A’ Level students have to study for. I would say that being goal-oriented; having good teamwork & communication skills, as well as completing assignments & homework on time and listening in class are the ground rules that a Poly student has to follow if he or she were to get a decent GPA.

Many of my classmates always don’t listen in class, and that’s one bad habit because many times, the lecturers make our lives easier by simplifying the textbook content for us and making the assignment easier to follow. So if you aren’t motivated to study hard, please at least listen attentively in class and jot down notes.

I have a word of advice for all freshmen and current Year 2s to study hard before it’s too late. I have gone through a painful experience of being lost and directionless all because I didn’t work hard in the past. Don’t repeat my mistake and don’t waste your time like I did a few years back.

If you work hard in Poly, many opportunities are bound to come to you. The teachers in SP are always spotting for students with potential to nurture and to give them exposure. If you prove yourself to be a capable and trustworthy student, they are bound to give you more opportunities to enhance your portfolio.

What are your favourite modules in SP? Why?

One of my favourite modules in SP are Web Client Development, particularly because I love designing websites. From an early age, I have had various personal blogs and only knew how to search for good themes that have been made by others. But now that I am equipped with HTML5 and CSS3 through this module and have made a website on my own for my WCD assignment, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I am also very proud of myself for creating a website that looks great.

Another favourite module of mine is Social Media Marketing, particularly because every lesson was interesting as I am able to pick up something new about marketing opportunities and trends, and also because my team and I were very successful in doing the marketing for Taipei Café to the point that the brother of the Taipei Café’s boss wanted to hire us to help him market for his start-up company called Yummy Pins. It was the first milestone for me in my polytechnic life, as it was one of the modules that made me believe that I have more potential than I think I do.

Share some memorable moments of childhood

My family and I came to Singapore when I was 3 years old

I was born in Pyapon, Myanmar and then my whole family immigrated to Singapore when I was 3 years old. I remember crying really hard when I was about to leave my hometown. I have a big family back home, as my maternal grandmother had 8 kids and hence I have a lot of cousins. I was very close to my cousins when I was young and even after I immigrated to Singapore, my family and I visited my hometown every year, all the way until when I was 14 years old and stopped going back to my hometown for a long 6 years.

Each time my family and I went back our hometown, we were very welcomed and my grandmother will prepare feasts for the whole family. Her house will be crowded and joyful for every night my family stayed there as all my other relatives came to visit her house while my family was there.

My relatives and I on a tour trip in Myanmar

My family in Myanmar

Share your likes and dislikes 

I love playing with Adobe Photoshop and have been using it for almost 5 years.

I developed this hobby after entering the world of Tumblr in year 2009, as there were so many excellent edits and graphics on Tumblr that inspired me learn Photoshop on my own to enhance photographs and edit graphics.

I also love Korean Dramas, Korean Pop and anime.

Here is a list of some of my favourite Korean Drama, Korean Pop and Anime respectively!

I’ve also been very into Tech News. I love using the FlipBoard App to check out my daily dose of tech news. I even created a Twitter List of 100 tech news and start-up twitter accounts so that I could keep myself updated.

What do you plan to do after graduation from SP?

Knowing that I took a longer education path than peers of the same age as me, I am desperate to redeem myself and hence I really want to enroll in a university that fares better than the universities my friends and peers went to. Hence, as idealistic and overly-ambitious as it sounds, I have a dream to get a scholarship to go to a prestigious Ivy League University. That’s why I am working so hard, so that I can distinguish myself from the rest of my course mates and earn myself a place there.

What is your ambition in life? 

I want to be a successful entrepreneur in the future, preferably in the technology field. I want to earn a good income and have a career that I can boast about to those people in the past who didn’t think I could accomplish much. When I earn a decent income, I want to be a philanthropist and do more charity, and help the people in poverty, especially those in my hometown.

Describe yourself with four different words 

I would use the following four words to describe myself!

  • Meticulous
  • Compassionate
  • Procrastinator
  • Thin-Skinned

I feel that I’m a meticulous person when it comes to work because I focus a lot on details that I feel some may have easily overlooked. However, that is solely for work, as when I am at home or with friends and family, I hardly keep things organized and am not fussy at all.

Have you travelled anywhere before? If so, which countries have you been? Which country do you like most? And why?

I have been to countries like Thailand and China. Below are some photos taken during my trips there.

Besides the above, I also make regular trips back to Myanmar to visit my relatives there.

Riding on an elephant in Phuket, Thailand

OCIP Trip to Yunnan, China

My cousins and I back in Myanmar

Do you have a CCA in SP? If you have, describe your experience with this CCA.

Yes I am currently the Publicity Coordinator in both the executive committees in SP Ambassadors and SP Infocomm Club.

I am proud to be in SP Ambassadors because we get to network with VIPs and also do our duties in our suave tailor-made uniforms. For example, as SP Ambassadors, I signed up to help out during Minister Tan Chuan Jin’s Dialogue session held in SP and as the main ambassador interacting with him during my duty that day, I felt really honoured to be the one ushering him to his seat, and also learned a lot from the Minister just by attending the Dialogue session.

Do you have best / good friends in SP?

One of my best friends Yechin is also studying in SP as I have mentioned earlier.

In class, I always hang out with Tianqi, Yvonne, Ferliana, Liling, Li Yi & Siyang. We are all very kind-hearted and helpful people and won’t hesitate to help one another in our studies.

Do you work part-time while studying? If you do, share your experience.

No as much as I would really like to work part-time, my mother prefers me not to as she wants me to be 100% focused on studies.

During the holidays that just ended however, I worked on a Design Thinking Project with LiveWell Collaborative. We had a client from Procter & Gamble (P&G) and the team including me burned our holidays to ideate and come up with certain products and prototypes. As it is a confidential project, I have to keep most parts of it mum. All I can say is that I really learned a lot from this particular project and particularly enjoyed my time with the team. Even though we only get an allowance of $10 per day, I would say the experience was really worth it and I have made a bunch of friends who are the most fun group I have met throughout my poly life.

Please share some pictures of your past projects / assignments

Web  Client Development

For Web Client Development, I worked long hours to make a really creative layout for my website and am really satisfied with it. I was elated to receive a Distinction for it too.

You can view all my webpages in this demo video.


iDiscover and TCS

For iDiscover and TCS, I wanted to be more original and present my project in a more revolutionary way. Hence, I researched on alternatives for Powerpoint and found POWTOON. I made videos using POWTOON on our project called Green Points and my proposals and presentations were good enough to earn me distinctions for both modules.

You can watch the videos here.



Original Photo

Final Assignment for DVDE CA1.
I rushed through the concept a bit
Regret not having produced a more
professional edit for this assignment

Are you currently attached with a boyfriend / girlfriend?

Yes I have a boyfriend and we have been together for more than 2 years. I met him back in my hometown, as he is my cousin’s best friend from childhood.

He always comes to my Grandmother’s house and is on good terms with my relatives. Before we even got together, I used to always hear good stuff about Maung Maung from my relatives, about how he’s very respectful, kind and capable. I had a good impression of him back then. Now, I have an even better impression of him because he is really what is as described by my relatives. He is also very kind and meticulous just like me. And a plus point is definitely how he dotes on me a lot, and how he can get a little possessive really indicates how much he cherishes me.

He came to visit Singapore just a few months back in December 2013 for a month’s stay. Even though I had a lot of work even during my holidays and could not accompany him for some days, he was very understanding. My mum always like to tease me, saying that I didn’t even go back Myanmar for 6 years (depriving me of any chance of meeting Maung Maung even though my whole family in my hometown already knows him well); but once I went back Myanmar, I met him and all of a sudden I got myself a boyfriend. Fate has a way of bringing us together I suppose.

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