SOH Valedictorian 2: Former “rebellious” student turned Valedictorian

31 May 2018

Daphine Ong, School of Hospitality

  • ongwenxiang2
    SOH Valedictorian: Ong Wen Xiang, Diploma in Integrated Events Management

He avoided change and skipped classes but the constant support from his family and friends was the waking call.

It is hard to believe that Ong Wen Xiang, our valedictorian who articulated his speech so well during the graduation ceremony on 8 May 2018, was once a rebellious child who skipped lessons during his secondary school days.  He was also not comfortable with changes. 

Despite the setback, Wen Xiang did well for his O-level examinations with the support of his teachers and friends. Wen Xiang eventually chose Diploma in Integrated Events Management (DIEM) in RP given his passion for events planning. During his time in RP, he seized every opportunity well and took part in many challenges in attempt to brush up his communication skills.

Together with his juniors, they attended the Singapore MICE Challenge 2018 and emerged as 1st runner-up – entitling him to attend the PCMA convention in Nashville, USA. On achieving many milestones in RP, Wen Xiang said that he was thankful to his parents and SOH family who have been there for him throughout the challenging journey.

We spoke to Wen Xiang and here what he has to share with us:

1.   Tell us more about your "rebellious" days. What led to it?

I did not do well in my PSLE so I have rather few secondary school choices to choose from. My close friends in primary school scored well and I felt alone in a different secondary school (Chestnut Secondary School). Back then, I thought that it was unfair to be separated from my friends. In addition, this was a change of environment (from primary to secondary school) which made me afraid as I was never comfortable with changes. I started to escape from reality and skip lessons. During those days, I caused a lot of trouble for my family.  My parents had to literally drag me out from bed every day to send me to school. They also tried all sort of methods in hoping for a transfer of school. They even visited the MPs to write a letter of transfer for me.

2.    Who were the people that changed you?

After skipping lessons on and off for 2 years, my turning point was during Secondary 3, when I decided to work hard. Many reasons led me to do so. Firstly, my family members have gone through many obstacles during my rebellious period and I realized I could not let them down further. I could remember the many scenes of them tearing up during those 2 years. So that reminded me that I should never let them down again. I want to prove that their efforts in pushing me did not get wasted. Next, my secondary school teachers also helped me by planning my future path and ensured that my actions would not go led me astray and I could focus on my studies. I wasn’t a very good student back then, but they tolerated me for all the troubles that I caused. In RP, my mentor, Ms. Faith, awesomely took over the role of my secondary school teachers in guiding and inspiring me. Lastly, my friends who have stayed with me throughout that period also made me realised that no matter what happens, I still have people behind my back and I would never be “fighting” alone. They were also the ones that make me believe in friendship again.

3.    What is your life philosophy now?

“Never compete with others, your only competitor is yourself!” That is because everyone has your own time in this world and own path to take. Unlike examinations, there are no definite answers about how to deal with life.  Life is a journey. So, there is no reason to compete with others or follow how others lead their life.  Most importantly, we compete with ourselves and we should be constantly upgrading ourselves!

4.    What are some key things that you have learned and developed throughout your time in RP?

Due to the problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum in RP, frequent communication was needed to get project work done. This required me to step out of my comfort zone.  I was also given opportunities to take part in many competitions.   For instance, I had the opportunity to present to an audience of more than 300 people. With all those exposures, I was able to open up more, and become more willing to speak up and communicate more confidently with people. I also learn to always think out of the box; there may not always be one solution to a problem. Finally, I am more confident to take up any challenges!