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Eleven students honoured with top medals at ITE Graduation

Channel NewsAsia speaks to ITE graduates Jeremy Lau, winner of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal, and Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal recipient Liaw Lay Kian - to find out what spurred them to excel. 

SINGAPORE: Nine in 10 ITE graduates continue to secure a job within six months of their graduation, with over 90 per cent of employers strongly endorsing their skills and competencies.

Employers also laud the hands-on skills, positive attitude and sense of responsibility that ITE graduates have. This is according to a 2013 survey on employers' assessment of ITE graduates, which Education Minister Heng Swee Keat highlighted in his speech at the ITE Graduation on Tuesday (June 24).

"ITE exemplifies the government's endeavour to provide diverse pathways that cater to our students' aspirations, needs and talents,” said Mr Heng. “I am happy that ITE has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 1992. It has been transformed from an institution that provides basic vocational training to one that is recognised today as one of the best vocational education institutions all over the world."

Eleven students were honoured with top medals at Tuesday’s ceremony, including 20-year-old Jeremy Lau. He received the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal, not just for his outstanding academic performance, but also for his contributions as the President of the Student Council and Chairman of the Aero-Design Club.

Mr Lau did not always have his sights set on such achievements. In secondary school, he was known for being rebellious and disinterested in his studies. The turning point came when he received his N-Level results, which were less than perfect.

He enrolled in the National ITE Certificate (Nitec) course in Aerospace Technology at ITE College Central, where he aimed to do better. "In order not to disappoint my parents, I had to buck up to show them that I could do it,” he told us. “Maybe not in secondary school, but in ITE. I tried my very best to study over here and got the score that I wanted."

He is currently pursuing a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at the Singapore Polytechnic. Eventually, he plans to be an aircraft engineer.

Another student honoured with a top medal today was 52-year-old Liaw Lay Kian, who was awarded the Tay Eng Soon Gold Medal and graduated with a near-perfect Grade Point Average.

Ms Liaw cared for her bed-bound father-in-law for 16 years and her terminally-ill husband for 10 months, and these experiences were key to her decision to go back to school.

"Watching both of them passing away, I think that, really, till now, there is still something in my heart towards those who are terminally ill and dying and I just have a heart for them,” she said. 

Ms Liaw decided to take up a nursing course as she was interested in palliative care. She did volunteer work at Dover Park Hospice, which complemented what she learnt in school. Going forward, she plans to take a Specialist Diploma in Palliative Care Nursing, and hopes her example will inspire other mature students.

At the graduation ceremony today, 645 students were awarded Certificates of Merit for emerging as the top 5 per cent from their programmes. Of these, 201 students were given Course Medals for outstanding achievements. In all, 13,042 students are graduating from the ITE programmes this year.

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