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O-level student perseveres through constant migraines, makes it to poly

O-level student perseveres through constant migraines, makes it to poly
Former Beatty Secondary School student Jamie Wong has suffered from frequent migraines since she was in Secondary 3.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Former Beatty Secondary School student Jamie Wong, 16, has suffered from frequent migraines since she was in Secondary 3, forcing her to miss school and making it hard for her to study.

She has been warded in hospital several times for the pain and seen several doctors but is not much closer to getting a diagnosis for her condition.

Despite struggling to do the things she loves like reading and playing music when in pain, Jamie was able to take her O levels in 2022.

Jamie was one of 23,684 students who received their O-level results on Thursday (Jan 12).

Of these, 23,625 or 99.8 per cent of got one or more passes said the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board in a joint statement.

Another 20,406 or 86.2 per cent had five or more passes, up slightly from 85.6 per cent the year before.

The Joint Admissions Exercise will open for registration from 3pm on Thursday, and will close the following Thursday Jan 17, the statement said.

It will enable O-level graduates can apply to the junior colleges, polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education or Millennia Institute.

Even though she struggled to keep up in school, Jamie was able to put together an application to NP and was accepted through the Early Admissions Exercise.

The scheme allows students to apply to polytechnics based on their aptitude and portfolios. They are given a conditional place, and will need to meet a minimum O-level grade to secure entry.

Jamie got into the NP Common Media Programme, and will need a combined O-level score of 26 for one language subject, two relevant subjects and her two best remaining subjects to get in.

Jamie's health issues began in July 2021 but she thought nothing of it at first. When it started to return frequently and affect her concentration, she grew concerned.

She said: "Sometimes it's throbbing, other times it's splitting and it becomes impossible for me to study or do anything for long hours. The pain travels around my head and it's hard to pinpoint."

Her headaches also affected her hobbies and her role as chairman of the school's modern dance troupe.

She said: "I enjoy reading, mostly romance and murder mysteries. I also write songs and play instruments as well as dance... The headaches made it difficult to do all these things for any extended period of time," she said.

Despite trips to various specialists, Jamie and her parents – who work in financial services and engineering – are still not entirely sure what is causing them, or what condition she has, as she has received a few diagnoses such as a rare syndrome known as New Daily Persistent Headaches.

"It's definitely frustrating not knowing what is causing the pain, which I am still coping with, but my family, friends and teachers are really supportive especially when I was taking the O levels in 2022," said Jamie who has an older brother who is in National Service.

Her social studies teacher, Ms Ellie Soh, was particularly caring and helpful, she added.

"Ms Soh really looked out for me, she took the time to coach me one on one after I missed almost a month of school because I was in the hospital. She also talked about her own struggles with a similar problem which made me feel less like I was alone."

She said: "I have always been excited by behind-the-scenes footage in films and the media industry is so interesting and so wide. I really want to go and see what's out there."

ALSO READ: From failing O-levels to finding inspiration helping schoolmates: NUS graduate shares his learning journey

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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