Student with Disability Wins National Youth Achievement Gold Award | SPD - Singapore

Student with Disability Wins National Youth Achievement Gold Award

31 October 2014

William at the National Youth Achievement Award ceremony

William Tay was only four when he lost his hearing after a bout of high fever. Although the episode changed his life forever, he did not wallow in self-pity nor did he allow his limitations to deter him from exceling in whatever he did. The former ITE Central student worked doubly hard in school and his academic achievements include graduating from the NITEC in Information Communication Technology (System Administration and Networking System) with a perfect GPA of 4.0, receiving the Outstanding Student Award, Certificate of Merit, Howe Yoon Chong PSA Scholarship, ITE-CCC scholarship, three MOE Edusave Scholarships and the ITE Alumni Technology award. Currently in his first year at Singapore Polytechnic studying for a diploma in Infocomm Security Management, William was presented with yet another award - the National Youth Achievement Gold Award 2014 which was presented to him at the award ceremony on 30 October by President Tony Tan.

In this interview, we catch up with William, who is also a Microsoft YouthSpark 2014 Scholar, to find out what inspires him and his aspirations for the future.


Q. Your thoughts on receiving the National Youth Achievement Award (Gold Category)?
WT: I am glad to receive the award but it came as a surprise. Through NYAA, I also came to enjoy dragon boat and brushed up my photography skills as well.

Q: What were you like when you were younger? Did your hearing impairment have any effect on you as a child?
WT: I used to study in a neighbourhood pre-school before a high fever when I was four caused me to lose my hearing. I was then referred to the Singapore School for the Deaf (SSD). I remember I got a culture shock on my first day as I was seeing teachers and students signing with each other. The SSD used the Total Communication approach to teach me sign language and speech at the same time.

I was very playful back then and I was always last in class. When I was in Primary 5, my father got so worried over my dismal results that he decided to engage a private deaf tutor for me. It was only then that I managed to do well in my PSLE examinations.

Q: What made you excel thereafter in your education?
WT: I went to Balestier Hill Secondary School (BHSS) because they had a Hearing Impairment Programme which provided sound academic and enrichment programmes to integrate deaf students into their school settings. I was fortunate to have a deaf resource teacher there who conducted counselling and storytelling about life as a person with hearing impairment. It was a wake-up call for me and I realised the importance of having a good education as many deaf people face a lot of hardships in their lives without one.

Thereafter, I was really inspired to excel in BHSS despite my being in the Normal (Technical) stream. The deaf resource teacher kept encouraging me, telling me that ‘practice makes perfect’. That was how I managed to obtain four As in my GCE 'N' Level examinations.

At ITE Central, I was lucky that the learning style was in tandem with my convictions towards technical education. I believed that the courses taught by the various lecturers were crucial in building my knowledge which would eventually translate to a viable long term career. This was why I studied with conviction and graduated with a perfect GPA of 4.0.

Q: Why did you take up the Diploma in Infocomm Security Management course?
WT: I have an uncle who lives in Los Angeles, United States. He was the one who got me interested in the marvels of computers when I was 7 years old. He advised me to get as much training as I could if I wanted to work in that sector in the US. From then, I aimed to master infocomm studies and be a computer security expert, or ‘white hacker’ in Internet slang, in the future. This is why I studied infocomm for my NITEC and now at Singapore Polytechnic. When I graduate with my diploma, I hope to further my studies in this area at a University or gain insights in the infocomm world.

Q: We heard that you are very active in other areas as well. Tell us about that.
WT: Other than studying, I was in my ITE’s Photography Club. It evoked my innate interest in the hobby and I wanted to further enhance my photography skills to that of a professional level. I am also very involved in Deaf Dragon Boat. Being there has helped me to improve my communication skills and learn the importance of teamwork and attitude.

Q: What fuels your determination to achieve?
WT: My determination to get good results is a manifestation of my aspirations towards achieving my long term dreams. I always tell myself that if I want to have a good future, l must find ways to overcome my difficulties. I know that it is hard but I have a positive mind-set and even though l face many challenges that I have no easy solutions to, in my heart, l believe I can breach all these obstacles that stand in my way. Given my hearing impairment, I acknowledge that I have to be independent in order to do well. I am very thankful that I still get the chance to study while others may not be so lucky. I always tell myself that I must not give up no matter what.

Q: Are there any inspirational figures that have contributed to your successes thus far?
WT: I think deaf students like me should be grateful for the support from our Government and teachers.

I wish to specially mention and thank my ITE Class Advisor, Ms Bu Juan, for believing in me. Her influence and support played a pivotal role during my time at ITE. Ms Bu had always gone the extra mile by requesting every lecturer to either write down points on the whiteboard, or speak clearly with a slightly slower speed, so that I could understand the lessons. Her encouragement never failed to inspire me towards studying hard and achieving my aspirations in ITE.

One particular quote that I like and will always remember is one that she would always say: "You are capable of getting As and also GPA 4.0". The belief she had in me has been a cornerstone in my life’s motivations and directions, and has inevitably changed my approach to studying.

Last but not least, I am most grateful to my parents for putting their faith in me and never failing to support me throughout my studies and growing up years. My heartfelt thanks to them!