Interview with Swaminathan Varun, President of Chess Club, who had made sacrifices and successfully managed his numerous commitments so that he could learn more about his native language, its cultures and traditions. It is this love for learning that saw him through his development as an all-round achiever.
Any thoughts regarding your achievement at the O-level exam?
I was pleasantly surprised to know that I got my desired L1R5 of 2 points nett. There was a huge improvement in my L1R5 compared to the Prelims. Hence, I have realised that it’s definitely possible to improve during the run up to the O levels so long as you work hard, learn from your mistakes and improve constantly.
What are the secrets of your success (academic and non-academic)?
I believe it’s to be focused on what you’re doing and work hard to achieve it. Learn from your mistakes and seize every opportunity to improve yourself. Manage your time wisely, make the most use of it and use the tests and exams that you’ve along the way to identify your learning gaps and work on them.
How has YTSS played a part in your success?
Teachers in YTSS, from Secondary 1 to Secondary 4, have all guided and nurtured me throughout my learning process. The lessons were always fun and focused. Teachers have been very caring and committed to ensure everyone performs to the best of our abilities by conducting lessons beyond school hours and spending time to clarify our doubts. Despite their hectic schedules, they have no qualms about seeing us one-on-one. I appreciate my teachers’ commitment throughout the last 4 years.
YTSS also nourished me with numerous opportunities such as the Nanyang Polytechnic symposium, STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme and other competitions which allowed me to stretch my cognitive abilities and broaden my perspectives. Through these opportunities, I’m now a global thinker, an individual who sees issues beyond the personal level.
Can you share some memorable moments in YTSS?
I would say that the entire learning experience was memorable. I remember the time when I got to do a science research project with my friends at the labs in Nanyang Polytechnic, where we worked together as young scientists. The learning experience is extremely authentic and has allowed me to apply the concepts in actual practice.
The activities that we did as a class and as a cohort such as bowling, CIP and other outings were also occasions that I would not forget. I’ve also enjoyed the time I had in my CCA, where we would play chess and relieve stress, occasionally playing transfer (a variation where the whole team works together), where we talked to our juniors and had fun while playing.
Which YTSS value resonates the strongest with you?
Resilience. It’s inevitable for us to face challenges and difficulties in life but being defeated is an option. It’s important for us to strive hard to overcome any difficult situation that we may encounter in YTSS or in life. In fact, the greater the obstacle, the more glory we’ll achieve in overcoming it. Moreover, challenges such as tests and examinations before the O-level exam are the best time for us to figure out what needs to be improved or changed so that we can be closer to our ideal self.
Any advice for your juniors?
Time. We lose one second whenever we gain one. As this second won’t ever come back to us, once we’ve lost it, it’s gone forever. Cherish the time you’ve and make meaningful use of it while you can before you can’t.
Think about your purpose in the world. As students, we tend to think that we don’t form a crucial part of society. We’re significant. We’re the generation that’ll shape our future. Even the biggest trees were once seeds. Sometimes it's the very people whom no one imagines to be capable of anything, will do things no one can imagine. Dream big and chase your dreams.