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Cancer Survivor Graduates as Valedictorian

02 Jun 2014

Singapore Polytechnic Graduation_Divesh Singaraju_1

Singapore Polytechnic graduand, Divesh Singaraju, 21, was grateful for the support of his family and lecturers.

Just as he was about to embark on his polytechnic studies, Divesh Singaraju, then 17, discovered that his cancer cells had resurfaced for the first time since he was diagnosed with it as a child. Divesh was in for a daunting course of treatment, and had to delay his plans to pursue his passion in aeronautical engineering.

Singapore Polytechnic Graduation_Divesh Singaraju_3Four years on, Divesh, now 21, has graduated with a perfect GPA and was also given the Lee Kuan Yew Award, which recognises the top three graduates from technology or computer related courses at each polytechnic.  It was only at this point that Divesh chose to reveal how he had overcome cancer. His reason was that he did not want people to pity him or treat him differently. 

“My achievements came about because of who I am today,” said Divesh, as he shared his life journey with us.

Life Lessons

Undergoing fortnightly chemotherapy sessions for six to eight months was no easy task. Hair loss, weight loss and an ongoing tussle of thoughts and emotions were all part of Divesh’s fight for life. But the experience changed his perspective towards life.

“I’ve seen my friends pass away in hospital, right in front of me. I was just lying there, helpless. That made me realise how important life is,” said Divesh.

His medical treatment was costly and Divesh was grateful for the full support and love from his parents. Many family members and friends also took time to visit, encourage and stand by him. Divesh learnt to treasure what he had.

“My secondary school friends were shocked to see how I had changed,” said Divesh, who used to be the joker in class who would make fun of others.

Singapore Polytechnic Graduation_Divesh Singaraju_2Today, he volunteers with the Children’s Cancer Society and even co-founded Youth Comm, a cancer support group for youths in their fight against the illness.

“I guess we just don’t know what people might be going through at that point of time,” said Divesh, adding “I realised that everybody has a story to tell.”

Passion that Drives Success

“I envisioned myself as an aeronautical engineer and the excitement I got from that vision sparked my passion to pursue this unique course in Singapore Polytechnic,” said Divesh, during his valedictorian speech.

Stepping into a cockpit when he was 18 and learning from professional pilots about the checks and controls was an amazing experience for Divesh. As a cancer patient, this had been his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It firmed up his resolve and motivation to study aeronautical engineering.

“I thought to myself - I must know what happens behind the scenes for all those controls and buttons,” recounted Divesh.

It drove him to work hard and excel when he started his diploma course. Now that he has graduated, Divesh plans to further his education and has received an offer to study aeronautical engineering at the prestigious Imperial College in the United Kingdom.

“Just do what you’re passionate about. It makes things a lot easier,” said Divesh.