SPD Youth Aspiration Award 2018 Recipient – Justin Kueh’s Story | SPD - Singapore

SPD Youth Aspiration Award 2018 Recipient – Justin Kueh’s Story


Justin Kueh, a SPD Youth Aspiration Award (YAA) recipient, is 19 this year.

Justin Kueh is one of the three SPD Youth Aspiration Award (YAA) recipients this year. Having battled through incredible odds to be where he is today, his story is one filled with encouragements and hope. Currently a student in his first year at Singapore Management University (SMU), we recount his story and how far he has come.

Justin was about 2-3 years old when his parents first noticed that he did not respond to auditory stimuli. The doctor diagnosed him with severe and profound hearing loss and informed his family that he would have to wear hearing aids if he were to have any chance of hearing normally. Though disheartened by the news, his parents did not want Justin to ever feel inferior because of a disability. To this day, his family remains very supportive, and is constantly encouraging him to become the best that he can be.

Without his hearing aids, Justin could hardly hear at all. Water-related activities or contact sports are a challenge as they could damage the hearing aids. Justin found ways to get around these problems, one of which is to keep tissue paper handy so that he could keep them dry. He also wears to bed a watch that vibrates when the alarm goes off as he does not wear his hearing aids to sleep. Apart from these challenges, Tinnitus, a constant phantom ringing in the ears, also makes it difficult for him to sleep at night, and distracts and confuses him in the day.

“Listening to music on my earphones can also be challenging as I have to turn up the volume to hear normally. I avoid doing that because I do not want to disturb others,” said Justin.

The hearing aids do not exactly resolve all his hearing woes, either. Even with them, Justin still has trouble hearing consonants and certain sounds. This affects his ability to pronounce some words clearly. Hence, he has learnt to lip-read to understand what others are saying.

Justin (right), along with his fellow YAA recipients.

Justin became interested in music at a young age and started playing the piano first. He opted for the Music Elective Programme when he was in Secondary 1 and joined the Philharmonic Orchestra in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), where he was selected to play the double bass which became his main instrument.

Over the years, Justin has met many talented musicians who spurred his passion for the art. For Justin, music is so much more than just entertainment. It serves as an outlet for expression, bringing people together and connecting them. Music is an important part of his life and he pursues it with a deep-seated passion despite his hearing conditions.

Some of his proudest achievements in music was clinching the GOLD award during the Singapore Youth Festival in 2013, and getting a distinction in his grade 9 ABRSM exams for double bass. He also scored an A1 in the Music Elective Programme for his ‘O’ Levels and six points for Higher Level Music in the International Baccalaureate exams. He also obtained a music elective scholarship from 2015 to 2016, which was a significant milestone for him. These awards and recognitions have encouraged him and reinforced his belief that he is capable of achieving almost anything, so long as he put his mind to the task.

Justin sharing about his experiences through the years.

“The most rewarding part of my journey in music is not so much the achievements, but rather, the opportunities to participate in the performances and the friends whom I have met through this journey,” said the 19-year-old.

We are pleased to support Justin in his musical pursuits and hope the grant that comes with the YAA will help him scale greater height