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Secondary school dropout becomes first ITE graduate to be accepted by NUS medical school

The youngest of two brothers born to a financial consultant and a housewife, Nicholas failed most subjects, dozed off during exams and would skip classes during his time at Bishan Park Secondary School

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Twenty three year old Nicholas Chan has become the first Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduate to be accepted into the competitive medical programme at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

A secondary school dropout, Nicholas had to take an arduous journey to get to where he is today. The youngest of two brothers born to a financial consultant and a housewife, Nicholas failed most subjects, dozed off during exams and would skip classes during his time at Bishan Park Secondary School.

Revealing that he “would wear my school uniform when leaving home, then change into my home clothes and go to a LAN shop or cyber cafe,” Nicholas told the national broadsheet, “I was very short-sighted then…and it was very difficult for my parents. They were strict, but my brother and I were very stubborn.”

Although he quit secondary school in his third year, Nicholas had a strong desire to become a nurse or a doctor so he could help people. He partly attributed this desire to his grandmother who had cared for him when he was sick as a child.

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Determined to make something of himself, Nicholas took his O-level examinations as a private candidate. Gaining clinical experience with volunteer work at organisations like Dover Park Hospice, the young man soon joined the nursing programme at ITE.

He told the Straits Times: “The moment I entered ITE, I told myself this was my last chance to redeem myself.” Graduating with a grade point average of 3.65, Nicholas qualified for NYP’s nursing course and graduated last May with an impressive 3.91 out of 4 GPA.

Although he “had not heard of nursing students making it to study medicine,” Nicholas said he considered applying to medical school since he “wanted more knowledge about medicine and to have more say in how I could treat patients.”

In his third year at NYP, the hardworking young man took the A levels on his own so that he could have extra credentials. He scored an A for the General Paper but failed Mathematics.

Despite this, he submitted his results, nursing diploma and testimonials from lecturers as part of his application to NUS’ medical school, under the Exceptional Individual Scheme.

Nicholas, who had applied to the same programme last year but was rejected, applied again and was among some 2,000 applicants this year who applied for the 280 seats the medical school offers. This time, he was accepted into medical school.

Revealing that he “freaked out” when he realised he had been accepted into the programme this year, Nicholas told the national broadsheet: “I’m far from the best person to apply. I knew it was a long shot, and to get it was really unreal.”

Listen to his story in his own words HERE.

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