SPEECH BY FARAAZ AMZAR MOHAMED FAROOK, VALEDICTORIAN AT THE SINDA EXCELLENCE AWARDS ON 22 SEPTEMBER 2018 AT THE SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC CONVENTION CENTRE
Guest of Honour, Minister for Home Affairs and Law and SINDA Life Trustee, Mr K Shanmugam;
Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance and Education and President, SINDA, Ms Indranee Rajah;
Distinguished Guests, Award Recipients, Parents; Ladies and Gentlemen
A very good morning to everyone.
- I would first like to congratulate my fellow award recipients for their outstanding achievements. I speak with sincerity when I say that I feel no more qualified than any of you to deliver this speech. It is an honour to be speaking amongst such company. My name is Faraaz Amzar and I recently graduated from NUS with a Bachelors of Law.
- First, I would like to address the topic/theme of ‘resilience’. Each and every one of us – I am sure – whether be it in our academic or sporting lives, must have demonstrated some form of resilience in our respective pursuits of success. Some of you may have had to work an extra job after school and others may have had to sacrifice precious hours of study time to attend trainings early in the morning. Today, I will share some of my own experiences with this idea of ‘resilience’.
- When I was in secondary school, I lacked the motivation to study and would sometimes score single-digit marks in some of my subjects. I would also play truant and was on the cusp of repeating my Secondary 3 year. In Secondary 4, the situation worsened and I had to leave my secondary school to pursue my O-Levels as a private candidate.
- During this period, I became extremely disheartened. It was especially difficult to study without the support of my friends in school. All along, I assumed that I could coast through life without bearing the consequences. I then realised that I had to change my attitude if I was to change the direction of my academic journey. This was one of the first real academic setbacks that I had faced in life and I realised that I would have to show resilience in order to get my life back on track.
- However, I could not do this all by myself. My family would provide constant support and encouragement, telling me that they believed in me. I also had two close friends who strongly believed in me as well. Their belief in my abilities, even when I had none in myself, was the only thing that kept me going on some of the more challenging days. Like many of us, I had many moments of self-doubt. For instance, I would ask my family members – every other day – are you sure that I would be able to do it? No matter how many times I asked, the answer would be a patient vote of confidence – YES.
- I also had the support of external organisations like SINDA. I attended the SINDA STEP programme which provided inexpensive but high quality teaching. Many years later, I attended SINDA STEP once again – this time as a teacher to younger students. This was a wonderful experience – it was immensely rewarding to teach and give back to these students. Some of them could not afford private tuition and depended on SINDA and STEP to ‘catch up’ if they were lagging behind in school.
- During the first two years of university, I taught night classes in order to finance my personal and educational expenses. At the same time, I worked hard in school so that I could obtain a bond-free mid-term scholarship. Fortunately, I did well enough to receive the scholarship, allowing me to alleviate some financial constraints, as well as freeing up much needed time for studying in the penultimate years of university.
- I am of course eternally grateful to the many helping hands, whose sustained care and efforts brought me out of a challenging time in my life, and I will always remember their generosity and I hope to pay this forward in due time. There are, thankfully, in Singapore, many generous scholarships and bursaries to help us. For me, the scholarship brought me one step closer to achieving my dream of becoming a lawyer.
- Before concluding my speech, I want to reiterate a few of the points that I have shared this morning. Firstly, the importance of resilience in our lives: each of us bears unique struggles but it always helps to remain motivated and determined in the pursuit of our goals. Secondly, to surround ourselves with people who believe in us – be they family or friends. Thirdly, and most importantly, even as we strive towards excellence, let us continue to give back to the community that has given us so much.
- To conclude, my heartfelt gratitude to SINDA for providing this opportunity to celebrate our achievements. Congratulations once again to all award recipients. I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.
Thank you very much.