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First poly student accepted into NUS Faculty of Dentistry

It’s official. The first poly student has been accepted to read Dentistry in National University of Singapore (NUS) under the Faculty’s Exceptional Individual Scheme.

It also surprised Singapore Polytechnic (SP) graduate Chua Koon Ting, 23, who never expected to enter the course. Now he is able to realise his dream of being a dentist in memory of his father who passed away when he was 12 years old.

NUS introduced the Exceptional Individual Admissions Scheme in 2007 as a way of exercising discretionary criteria in admitting a small number of students to the NUS Faculty of Dentistry. Applications submitted through this route will be evaluated by the Selection Committee on the basis of exceptional talent and achievement in addition to academic excellence.

“Koon Ting stood out among candidates because he demonstrated excellent character qualities,” said Associate Professor Keson Tan, Dean, NUS Faculty of Dentistry. “His steely determination to succeed in life despite financial difficulties and his resolve to improve academically stood out during the interview. His spirit of volunteerism was also clearly evident. Upon assessing Koon Ting’s achievements holistically, the interview panel was convinced that he has the potential to excel as a dental student and contribute to the profession in the future.’

Koon Ting and his family struggled financially after his father’s death. Often, they only had one meal a day or simply white rice for three meals. The death of his father had affected Koon Ting so much that he grades slipped and he went to the Normal Academic stream.

But that did not get Koon Ting down. His father’s toothless grin only spurred him to do better. He worked to improve his grades while juggling part time work to support the family. To date, he has worked more than 10 jobs from a sales promoter to security guard. He also actively participated in community service and was awarded gold, silver and bronze medals at the National Youth Achievement Award Ceremony.

His perseverance paid off and he emerged the top N and O level student within his cohort. He then enrolled in SP’s Diploma in Biomedical Science programme where he continued to work as hard, juggling part-time work, studies and community service. Koon Ting eventually graduated as one of the top students with a Diploma with Merit.

This was great news for SP staff and students. Dr Adrian Yeo, Deputy Director of School of Chemical and Life Sciences who has taught Koon Ting shared: “The SP Diploma in Biomedical Science programme has produced many high achievers. Koon Ting’s success is the result of a unique combination of belief in himself, hard work, fierce competition and ability to overcome challenges. We are all very proud of him and wish him the best in his future endeavours.’

Koon Ting was elated on learning he was accepted into Dentistry. He said: “Now I can fulfil my dream of helping people with oral health issues by bringing back their confidence. I would also be able to provide well for my family especially to my mother who has been my pillar of support all these years”.

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