Undergraduate is three-time LKY scholarship winner

Former ITE student Davis Li Minyong receiving the Lee Kuan Yew STEP award for his undergraduate studies in 2009.

(Photo: Davis Li Minyong)

Not too long ago, Davis Li Minyong, a Lee Kuan Yew scholar, was studying info-commumunications technology at the Institute of Technical Education at Macpherson.

Today, the 28-year-old NUS undergraduate is a proud three-time winner of the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship To Encourage Upgrading, or STEP award.

Li was presented with his latest scholarship at the Student Achievement Awards ceremony held in February, where he clinched the Merit trophy.

The e-commerce major said he was rebellious during his formative years and mingled with students who were not academically inclined as a Normal (Technical) student from Hong Kah Secondary School.

“Soon, I became disinterested in my studies and wasted my time in gaming shops, dating different girls and hanging around in shopping malls,” Li said.

After barely passing the GCE N-level examinations in secondary four, his lack of interest in his studies continued, resulting in straight Cs and a failing grade for the GCE O-level examinations in secondary five.

His poor grades denied him a place in a polytechnic. He was also unable to secure a place in an ITE computing course he was interested in.

“Being in ITE was already very demoralising for an O-levels graduate. Not being able to enter the course of your choice was even more devastating. I really gave up on my future. I didn’t even bother showing up in school to purchase the uniform and books,” he said.

However, his mother, 53-year-old Sharene Lye, appealed to the course manager of ITE Macpherson.

“I believed my son deserved a second chance. I couldn’t bear to see him feeling rejected by the society,” she said.

Li was later accepted into the course of his choice at ITE Macpherson, and went on to achieve a perfect 4.0 grade point average. In 2003, he became the first National Institute of Technical Education Certificate (NITEC) graduate to clinch the Overall Top Graduate award and receive the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal award.

In 2006, he was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew STEP scholarship that helped him fund his polytechnic studies at Nanyang Polytechnic.

During his polytechnic days, Li graduated top of his course with 29 distinctions. His stellar performance was more than enough to land him a spot in NUS.

Things once again took a sharp turn when he entered university. He scored a weak cumulative aggregate point score in his first semester. However, he persevered and is currently aiming to graduate with a second upper class honours degree.

However, the quest for a good CAP score is not his only priority.

“In NUS, I learned that grades are not everything and blindly pursuing them can distract you from maximizing your true potential,” he said.

Li recently formed a voluntary group called the NUS Enablers. Its mission is to help NUS students with special needs. This community service project led them to win the Merit trophy during this year’s Student Achievement Awards ceremony, which was held on Feb. 17 at the University Cultural Centre.

The ceremony is an annual event that recognises NUS students who have made noteworthy contributions to the university in activities beyond the classroom.

Li’s mentor from his days in ITE, Rainer Ong, said ITE graduates in the past were seldom interested in academic success.

“After seeing more and more ITE graduates making it to university these days, it shows how the ITE has managed to evolve and be relevant to its students, empowering them to pursue a university education,” Ong said.

Today, Li said he aspires to join a company with a suitable working culture. “I am truly grateful for my second chance and I want to cherish it. So when I enter the workforce, I will not be complacent. I will continue to work hard and stay driven,” said Li.

Source : The NUSpaper ~ Undergraduate is three-time LKY scholarship winner 


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