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This article was contributed by Singapore Polytechnic.
Diploma in Applied Chemistry
Awards: Low Guan Onn Gold Medal, Megachem Gold Medal
Striving For Greater Heights
Diligent, curious and having an appreciation for science and its boundless limits, Shen Yikai has all the right traits of a successful science student. However, life was not all rosy for Yikai. He arrived from Shanghai, China and entered Primary One at the age of eight. He struggled to communicate as English was not his first language.
The determined youth was not defeated by his circumstances. To improve his communication skills, Yikai actively interacted more with friends of different races and put in greater efforts to learn English.
Passionate about Chemistry and Research & Development, the Chung Cheng High (Yishun) alumnus set his sights on joining a junior college after his GCE O-Level - also his parents' preferred choice. However, while mugging for his O-Level exam, it dawned on Yikai that a “hands-on” curriculum was more aligned with his interest.
Encouraged by his secondary school teacher, Yikai visited SP's Open House. There, he was convinced that SP's Diploma in Applied Chemistry would put him on the right path to becoming a scientist. Having a clear direction of his future, Yikai managed to persuade his parents and enrolled in his dream course.
In SP, the Director’s Honour Roll student proved to be equipped with both brains and brawn.
By optimising his time, Yikai managed to do well in his studies, achieving a near-perfect GPA while indulging his interest in fencing. He even managed to find time to fence with his secondary school teammates on top of his training sessions in poly. Yikai’s hard work allowed him to win several medals in various fencing competitions such as the Asian Varsity Fencing Championships.
SP also provided Yikai the opportunity to intern at the National Metrology Centre (NMC) A*STAR, Gas Laboratory, where he gained a better understanding of the local R&D landscape. Besides working in a laboratory, Yikai also met suppliers and networked with professionals in the industry, thus learning more about products and the marketing process.
He also collaborated with an intern from NUS on an upcoming paper to improve the accuracy of laboratory instruments under undesirable conditions. The internship experience provide to be invaluable to Yikai as he achieved a better understanding of the work a scientists does and the importance of teamwork in the industry. It also gave him a clear vision on the areas he might want to specialise in.
Coming from a humble background, Yikai is always keen to serve the community. He participated in SP's Overseas Social Innovation Project to Port Dickson, Malaysia, where he led the team to develop a product to increase visitors’ footfall. It was an enriching learning experience for Yikai. He learnt that tapping on data and statistics might not be the best solution to the problem, sometimes, it is also crucial to look at the human aspects and other factors of a problem.
Yikai has accepted the NTU Scholarship and a place in the university’s Chemical and Biological Chemistry degree programme. Moving forward, he aspires to get a PhD and develop a beneficial product that will improve our lives.
Read more about Singapore Polytechnic's top graduates here.