Grief and loss are no strangers to R Navashen. Despite his tender age, the Jurong Pioneer Junior College (JPJC) student has had to overcome a series of tragic losses in his family from his secondary school days to his time in JPJC. After his father passed on unexpectedly in 2017 due to health issues, Navashen and his elder brother took up the mantle of supporting his mother and sisters in both big and small ways. From doing the chores at home, to comforting his grieving mother, representing the family at his sister’s wedding and helping his sister with her school work, one would never have guessed that Navashen was the youngest child in the household. Losing his father, whom he was extremely close to, was the most painful thing he had ever experienced, but Navashen found it in himself to juggle different facets of his life in order to keep going and make things work for himself and his family. In his own words, “It was not so much that I was able to move on quickly, but more like acknowledging what happened without letting it weigh down on me so much. Being stuck in the same spot, grieving, I think my dad would not have wanted that for us.” Even on days where it felt like his world was falling apart and nothing was going right, Navashen had to carry on. Forging ahead, soldiering on, making good of whatever situation he was in and turning it around – this then became Navashen’s life philosophy as he traversed new chapters in the years ahead.
Adapting to junior college (JC) life proved to be his first challenge in his journey after the passing of his late relatives. In his first year, he decided that he wanted to come out of his shell and ran for election to be a Student Councillor. Unfortunately, he could not cope academically and had to repeat his first year of JC. It was then, at that significant juncture of his life, that tragedy struck again, and Navashen’s beloved elder brother passed away unexpectedly in 2019. As devastated as he was, Navashen knew that his brother would have wanted him to focus on making things right and making choices that had the welfare of his family as the top priority in the long term. This gave Navashen the impetus to change his Co-Curricular Activity (CCA), from the Student Council to the International Current Affairs Society (ICAS), and his subject combination. In his own words, “I messed up but I didn’t allow myself to feel bad. I had been given a chance to start afresh, a second chance. I had to put in even more effort to see how I could make things better.” His resolve could be seen in the way made adjustments to the way he approached his studies during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, Home-Based Learning (HBL) was a huge hurdle for many students. Interestingly (and once again), Navashen turned what was perceived by many to be a crisis, into an opportunity to overhaul his study approach by switching to digitalising the bulk of the notes he made. He also found that the use of e-resources and e-learning suited him better, and he liked being able to retrieve recorded lectures and lesson packages at his own convenience and mull over concepts. Navashen also expressed his appreciation for all his tutors, whom he said “went out of their way to check on him regularly, ensure he was coping well with HBL.”
Having emerged from the storms of this chapter in his life, Navashen has much to share regarding his experiences thus far. Recalling his secondary school days, where he went through Subject-Based Banding (SBB), Navashen reflected that going through SBB actually helped him to adapt to learning in JC since the demands of each subject differed greatly under SBB, just like the subjects he offered at the GCE A Level. “I was a really unmotivated student in secondary school”, he confessed, “but I’m glad that with my teachers’ help, I could transition into being more engaged in what I was studying and developed better self-management and time management skills, and this was especially so during JC”. As he moved on to reminisce about his life in JPJC, Navashen expressed that he was grateful for the rich lessons gleaned from the experiences he had. “The lifeskills I learnt from ICAS and Project Work, like how to talk to others and understand that we are all different, and things like time management and team work, were extremely valuable for helping me to cope with my A Level year in JPJC. In fact, I believe these are real skills that will be vital to me throughout my life.”
The support of his teachers in JPJC was also a constant pillar of strength and source of intellectual inspiration for Navashen. Navashen was especially thankful for Mr Augustine Ng and Ms Tan Zhi Ai, who taught him History and Economics respectively. In particular, Mr Ng was also the Teacher-in-charge of ICAS, and through countless conversations with him, Navashen’s interest in the Humanities and Social Sciences grew. These encounters and opportunities allowed Navashen to develop an even broader worldview and appreciation of the changing world in our time. In the aspects of Economics, knowing that he needed more practice in actual exam settings, Ms Tan consistently worked with Navashen and administered timed practices that allowed Navashen to improve on his weaknesses in the subject, and work towards better mastery. “Without their willingness to spend time and effort on me, and their patience, I don’t think I could have grown intellectually or academically, and seen beyond the darkness of what I had been through earlier. They were really willing to engage me as a thinking individual. I think my time in JC has really allowed me to develop another dimension of myself, and be a better person, and this growth actually feeds back into other aspects of my life.”
Regardless of how he might do for his ‘A’ Levels, Navashen shared that he had put in his best effort, and is looking forward to soldiering on and forging ahead in the next phase of his life. He will be enlisting with the Singapore Civil Defence Force on the 8th of February. When the subject of seeing dead bodies as a paramedic came up, he deadpanned, “Well, I have seen my fair share.”
Navashen hopes to read either History or Political Science at a local university, and pursue a career in policy planning in the Ministry of Defence. Indeed, in typical Navashen fashion, this young man is forging ahead and soldiering on, from strength to strength, because “we all need to move forward and change as is needed”.