Mr Lim Jia Ming Desmond always wanted to be in the teaching profession.
The ITE College East lecturer teaches the chemical process technology Nitec course at the School of Applied & Health Sciences. This course preps students for a career in the chemical or bio-pharmaceutical industries.
But he never imagined he would fulfil his dream of being an educator when his less-thanstellar PSLE results made him ineligible for the Express Stream. However, the dejected youth was inspired by teachers who guided and believed in him.
He progressed well enough to complete his O levels and a Diploma in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering (with Merit) from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
There, Mr Lim realised he had a strong passion for teaching and set himself the goal of becoming an educator. “I want to motivate my students just like my teachers had done for me,” he says.
After polytechnic, on an ITE Associate Scholarship, he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (with Honours) in Chemical Engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS).
On the right track
A perk of the Associate scholarship is that ITE allows the applicant to work as a teaching associate for a year before embarking on the scholarship.
Mr Lim, 29, explains: “This allows both parties (ITE and the scholar) to assess if the job and the scholar are a good fit, creating a win-win situation for both parties.”
He says: “ITE provides a platform for me to stay engaged with industry partners and updated about the latest technology in the field of chemical engineering. At the same time, I am able to impart skills and knowledge to my students to equip them to contribute to Singapore’s chemical industries.”
Since January last year, Mr Lim has also been pursuing a parttime Master of Science (Chemical Engineering) in NUS on an ITE Education Sponsorship. He hopes to complete it by June next year.
“It’s definitely challenging to juggle work and studies,” he says. The reason he embarked on the programme — to keep updated with the latest trends and technologies in the field of chemical engineering — motivates him to keep going.
He adds: “This way, I can leverage on my knowledge and incorporate it in my lessons. As an educator, I want to be a role model for my students and demonstrate to them that learning is a lifelong journey.”
Staying the course
As a scholarship recipient, Mr Lim is bonded to ITE for five years (four years for his undergraduate studies and one for his graduate programme) after his studies.
He says many prospective scholarship applicants may think that a scholar’s career path within the organisation is pre-determined and a career promotion is guaranteed after a certain number of years. But he feels these misconceptions need to be corrected.
“My tip to prospective scholarship applicants is to first discover your passion and then apply to the scholarship provider that can help you further it. Do not apply for scholarships just for the prestige that comes with it. It will not last,” he adds.
The proud tutor relates how his student team won the 2016 Singapore Junior Water Prize competition, organised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic and supported by the Lien Foundation and PUB.
This is the first time ITE students clinched the top prize. The team went on to represent Singapore in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Competition in Sweden and was also invited to present their project at the Budapest Water Summit in Hungary.
Mr Lim says: “I am extremely proud of my students’ achievements. It shows that our students do have the potential and the capability to excel. All they need is someone to motivate them, tap their strengths and believe in them.”