N-level student overcomes pain from genetic disorder to succeed
She has qualified for Direct-Entry Scheme to poly programme
When she was 14, doctors found that one of her kidneys was not functioning well.
Jerlyn Loh, 16, was then diagnosed with mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes.
As a result of this genetic disorder that can affect the brain and muscles, she suffers from headaches and migraines.
Sometimes, the pain was so bad that she had to be hospitalised. But that did not stop her from achieving her goals.
Yesterday, Jerlyn, who is a Normal (Academic) student at Greenridge Secondary school, collected her N-level results.
She did well enough to qualify for the Direct-Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme (DPP), but she intends to take opticianry at Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East.
Her achievement did not come easy as her studies were often disrupted.
She said: "Sometimes, I had to be absent from school, and it could be for at least a week. The pain was so bad to the point that I was unable to move.
"But I made an effort to catch up on my studies, and my friends also collected notes for me and helped me with school work."
This year, 76.6 per cent of the N(A) students managed to progress to Secondary 5, said the Ministry of Education and Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board in a press release yesterday.
This is similar to the figure last year, which showed 76.9 per cent of them qualifying to do the O levels in Sec 5.
A total of 9,752 N(A) students and 4,034 Normal (Technical) students took the exams this year.
Passing rates also remained high, with a 99.5 per cent passing rate for N(A) students and 98.1 per cent for N(T) students.
About 38 per cent of students from the N(A) stream took O-level subjects this year.
N(T) students may apply to further their studies in ITE. Those who do well can also be laterally transferred to the N(A) stream.
N(A) students can also apply for DPP, which prepares them for selected polytechnic diploma courses via a two-year Higher Nitec programme at the ITE.
Jerlyn is also a caregiver for her brother Javier, 14, an N(T) student at the same school. He was diagnosed with kidney failure when he was 11.
In 2017, she had to juggle with being the caregiver for her brother.
She would leave school early so that she could hook her brother up to the dialysis machine, which would be running throughout the night.
Her brother and her 42-year-old mother, a technical support assistant who is the sole breadwinner, are her sources of motivation.
She said: "He was diagnosed with the condition much younger than me, but he is always smiling and positive.
"It makes me want to be the same way and to put in my best effort for him."
Determined to excel in sports despite hearing loss, he took the visual route
Despite being born with hearing loss, Mr Lee Yong Cheong did not let it hamper him.
Yesterday, he was one of the Normal (Technical) students who collected their N-level results.
The 19-year-old student at Beatty Secondary School suffers from severe hearing loss in his left ear and moderate to severe hearing loss in his right ear.
Yet Mr Lee is determined to excel in sports.
He said through a sign language interpreter: "I believe the deaf can do it, we are not any different from other people. I am very visual, so I can learn that way too."
To hone his skills at javelin, shotput and wushu, Mr Lee would observe his friends and watch YouTube videos repeatedly to familiarise himself.
His efforts have paid off, earning him medals in javelin and shotput.
Mr Lee said the conducive environment in school also made it easier for him. For example, he has a sign language teacher tagged to him in class to help him.
This was not the case many years ago, when he was still living in Perak, Malaysia. He moved to Singapore when he was 17.
He said: "Some people would look down on me, and they would think deaf people are dumb. But I've learnt to put that behind me and focus on the good things in my life."
Mr Lee scored several distinctions and has been offered to study mechatronics and robotics in the Institute of Technical Education College Central.