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This is the story of Edwin Tan, graduate of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with an Honours degree in Electrical & ElectRonic Engineering (EEE). Read more about Edwin on The Straits Times article: ‘Teen rebel now graduating with top honours’. There are many lessons that can be drawn from this inspiring article about Edwin Tan. Here’s two of which we can start applying in our everyday lives.

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He would get into fights, talk back to his teachers and mixed with bad company after school every day. His mom would cry in front of him whenever we was being rebellious. She fears that as her health deteriorates, he would not be able to support himself when she leaves the world one day. It was only during his ITE days that he realise one day that his mom looked frail after undergoing a lot of operations due to heart issues and that he is no longer a child anymore. He wanted to do something for her – to make her proud. In his words “So I studied hard and when I got better grades, the achievement drove me to do even better”.

Here are two of which we can start applying in our lives.

Lesson One: Our Past does not determine our Future


Edwin decided to turn his life around in order to look after his mother. Despite having to study, care of his mother and work part time, he did well enough in ITE to make it to Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). This proves that when a person has a strong WHY (a compelling purpose) to succeed, they can achieve anything! 

Our past does not determine our future. Every one of our children has the potential to achieve top grades and graduate with honours despite their past ‘failures’ or setbacks. As parents, we should always believe in our children and teach them that ‘the past does not determine the future!’ It is the choices they make TODAY that shapes their future. 

Lesson Two: The Power of Tough Love


When our kids find a strong WHY to succeed, their motivation and drive comes from within. They begin to believe in themselves and using the power of words, they constantly keep themselves motivated and in peak learning state. They will do whatever it takes to make things happen for them. It is usually under hardship and adversity, that we find our purpose and drive to change. For Edwin, it was when his mother fell sick that he found his WHY. 

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People describe our children today to be the Durian Generation – soft and creamy inside (the kids) protected by the hard shell and almost dangerous looking spikes on the outside (parents today). When we give our children everything they want and protect them from hardship, they may never find the pain they need to drive them to change for the better. Perhaps, sometimes we need to give tough love to drive our children to develop their fighting spirit, resilience and how to handle adversity. 


Find out more about I Am Gifted!TM school holiday programmes and how it will benefit your child.