Now that we’ve joined the working world, how many of us would actually go back to university to pursue a degree if you didn’t already have one? Bet not many of you would consider that, seeing as we are already tired enough by our full-time day jobs!
However, for Joseph Yang who comes from a single parent family, he didn’t see it that way and the hardworking man graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering with honours (highest distinction) from National University of Singapore (NUS) last Wednesday even though he’s 34-year-old! That’s amazing!
The SMRT executive engineer told Straits Times that he had always been among the last when he was in primary school and even failed English in his O Levels.
He went on to study electrical engineering in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) after that and graduated in 2002 but he admits that he didn’t glean much knowledge from his time there.
In the end, this caused him to encounter difficulties in his six-year job in the navy as he said, “I just memorised things to pass tests and had a really hard time understanding the complex systems there. Because of my weak knowledge, I didn’t understand what I was doing.” Sounds awfully like our own education system don’t you think?
During this time, his supervisor who was in his 50s guided him although he had no qualifications.
“I felt so ashamed because I went through proper training in ITE with textbooks, unlike my supervisor in his 50s who had no qualifications. But my supervisor knew everything – he first started out as an apprentice and then learnt bit by bit.”
This ignited a determination in him to improve himself. “I wanted to give myself one more chance to really learn,” Joseph said.
That was when he decided to take the plunge and go back to school. He took up part-time courses in Singapore Polytechnic in 2013 while working as a SMRT officer during this period.
In an interview with Straits Times, he said it was a “tough time”.
“I had a strong reason for wanting to do this. This time, I didn’t have any academic targets to hit. All I wanted to do was learn.”
As a result of this determination, Joseph managed to enter NUS to study a part-time degree course in electrical engineering. The hardworking man was also in the Dean’s List for exceptional students for four years and his inspiring story motivated his colleagues to brush up on their skills as well.
Of course, it definitely isn’t easy to study and work at the same time and Joseph says, “It was very tiring. Sometimes I would partially fall asleep in class but I had to keep myself awake or I would miss out on information.”
Not only that, Joseph says that he was the happiest when he managed to influence his younger brother, Mr Yang Yaoguang, 30 to enroll in the same course as him. “Both of us went the long way, but we put in the effort and now we see we have gained so much,” a joyous Joseph says.
Congratulations on your graduation, Joseph and Yaoguang! These two prove that it’s never too late if you have the heart for something!
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