Tan Yao Hao, James (18A08) – The Comeback Kid
When James Tan lost his mother at a young age, his whole world came crashing down. He lost his motivation to focus in his academic work as his mother was the disciplinarian. He saw himself losing focus and lost his sense of direction.
‘The way we approached meals, chores and family gatherings dramatically changed. I did not have a maternal figure for most of my childhood. It affected me greatly,’ James recalled.
While he managed to do well enough in secondary school to enter a junior college, in his first year in junior college, James was almost always late for school. Some days he did not even bother to turn up for school and if he did turn up, he did not bother about submitting his work on time. True enough, because of his lack of motivation, James did not clear his JC1 examinations.
When James was given a chance to repeat his JC1 in Jurong Pioneer Junior College (JPJC), he decided to set things right. With strong support from the college, teachers and classmates, James managed a 180 degree change. Former Vice-Principal of Jurong Pioneer Junior College, Ms Sharon Thien, advised him to explore what he really wanted in life. With the guidance and advice, he decided to switch to the Arts stream and discovered his passion in subjects such as Literature.
James’ Literature Teacher and Form Teacher, Mr Sunil Ebenezer Sutherson, spoke highly of him, ‘James epitomises a tenacious spirit. He endured a difficult first year in Junior College. Yet James picked himself up and decided to change course from the Science to the Arts stream, where he found his true calling. He did not allow his situation to determine how far he could go.’ With the college support and the right fit in the subjects that he studied, James finally found himself and started to excel in college. His punctuality issue, according to Year Head, Mr Subash Ramiah, became no longer an issue. The changes he saw in him was tremendous. With the right education and career guidance, pointing him to the direction he needed, James became highly motivated and flourished.
He went on to represent the college at the international and regional round of the World Scholars’ Cup, where he and the team won top accolades. He also became an Orientation Group Leader and joined the school choir. As he was passionate about singing, James went on to participate in the college’s talent contest, the JP Spotlight where he won the 1st Runner’s up Position. His active involvement in school activities won the praise of his teachers, who saw how he has transformed and even became an inspiration to many.