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All(im) Time Star - Conquering Mountains

by Ang Jan Tsi (Secondary 4F) and Kylee Tan (Secondary 4E)

Mohammed Alim Bin Irshad Ali was a hardworking and inquisitive student. Despite facing learning difficulties due to his vision problems, Alim managed to keep pace with all his lessons by displaying great determination and grit. In recognition of Alim's academic achievement, he received the Ministry of Education Edusave Merit Bursary in 2019. An outstanding all round student, Alim was a key player who regularly started for the Fairfield Football team in various inter-school competitions. His sense of responsibility and discipline enabled him to become an executive committee member of the Fairfield Football team. 

On 17 December 2021, Alim received his GCE N(T)-Level examination results. A wave of sentiment washed over him as he recounted his journey as a Fairsian.

My heart was thumping madly! Holding my GCE N(T)-Level examination results slip in front of me, I was elated! I did it! I really did it! I smiled broadly to myself, while looking at the crisp sheet of paper in my hands with grades that I could only dream of. All my struggles, all the late nights and tough times … they paid off! I wanted to just run out of the room and thank my parents and teachers for everything they have done for me. What’s next? As thoughts about my future raced through me, so did thoughts of my past …..

It was a Science lesson. My teacher had just asked the class a question. An answer formed at the back of my throat, as my hand shot up into the air. I heard a faint laughter. Having grown used to it, I shook it off, and proceeded to answer my teacher’s question correctly. The world around me had always piqued my interest, and Science lessons enabled me to explore it with fervor and excitement. Before I knew it, the bell resounded through the halls, signalling the end of the lesson and my school day. Staying behind as the rest of my classmates rushed to collect their bags and go home, I made my way to the front of the class to look at the words on the whiteboard more clearly. Although I was seated in the front row of the classroom, I still had trouble making out the words and numbers on the whiteboard. While you may feel that is strange, there is a perfectly legitimate reason for that.

In Secondary 2, I was diagnosed with Keratoconus, an eye disease which affected the structure of my corneas. As a result, my vision greatly deteriorated. The words on the whiteboard were unclear, no matter how close to the whiteboard I sat. Even sitting in the first row barely improved my situation. Still, I put in the effort to write down everything the teacher had said. If I really could not make out the words, I would request to copy my friends’ notes. Unsurprisingly, some of my classmates seemed to enjoy poking fun at me, laughing at me, and calling me names whenever I tried focusing my full attention on making out my teachers’ words on the whiteboard. But, so what if they did? I was not going to back down just because of others’ ignorance and insensitivity. Every mountain I have climbed, stumbled on and conquered made me more resilient!

However, this was a daily occurrence. Though I told myself to ignore my classmates’ jeering, I was emotionally drained. However, I was really glad that I could turn to my form teachers, Mr Leonard Ngoei and Ms Juliana. They lent me a listening ear, took good care of me and encouraged me throughout my four years in Fairfield Secondary. This motivated me to work even harder to achieve my goals despite the obvious challenges. I consulted my subject teachers to clarify all doubts, and did extra practices to get valuable feedback. My diligence and determination were rewarded when I received the MOE Edusave Merit Bursary in 2019.

Of course, what would my life in school be without my wonderful Co-Curricular Activity (CCA)? Football was my passion! I was also really happy that my Fairfield Football friends helped me to overcome various uncertainties associated with my poor vision. My hard work under the sun paid off, as I got to represent Fairfield Secondary at the National School Games South Zone Football Championship every year from 2019 to 2021. We even clinched Second Team Placing at the annual Methodist Cup Football Championship in 2019! I was thrilled when my Fairfield Football teachers trusted me enough to take on the role of executive committee member!

Life became pretty busy for me, as I had to juggle between my CCA and academic commitments. However I overcame this challenge by creating and closely following a practical timetable, so as to provide me with a structured way of managing my time wisely. 

I could not have lasted through those few hectic years without the support of the people in my life who built me up, namely my Mathematics teacher Mrs Chak, my two dearest friends Jeiron and Jonathan, my parents and my siblings. All of them have shaped and moulded me into the strong and resilient person I am today. Together, we are stronger as one!