The National Young Leader Award challenges youth beyond academic achievements, to push boundaries and achieve higher goals
Vince Lombardi, one of the best and most successful coaches in National Football League (NFL) history, once said, “Winning isn’t everything – but wanting to win is.” The best of us have failed countlessly, but just because we do not or cannot win, does not mean we should not try. “It is this drive that comes with wanting to win that really counts”, shares Audric Ping Wei Xiang, winner of the 2014 National Young Leader Award (NYLA).
The award, introduced in Halogen’s 10th year of building young leaders, recognises exceptional young leaders aged between 15 to 19 years old who actively contribute to society. Out of 49 applicants from 17 schools, the finalists were selected based on the five key domains that Halogen believes young leaders need to act upon – to be actively involved in community, driving engagement with the community in national and world issues, acting on conviction on issues they believe in, demonstrating self leadership and having the ability to work well and lead in groups.
The top five who fulfilled these criteria were Chia Yee Shin, 18, from Hwa Chong Institution; Nathaniel Loh, 18, from Saint Andrew’s Junior College; Shermaine Ng, 16, from Raffles Girls’ School; and Lye Zheng Bin, 18, and Audric Ping, 18, both from the (ITE) College Central.
Launching the award together with us at the 10th Anniversary Edition National Young Leaders’ Day event at Kallang Theatre, Guest-of-Honour Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said: “My hope is that you see school as a place where you excel not just in academics… but also where you learn to develop a heart that feels for others and burns with a fire to want to make a difference”.
The award was later presented at the educational charity’s 10th Anniversary Dinner on 29 October 2013. It was presented by Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Chairman of National Youth Council, to the winner, Audric Ping, a Year 2 student from Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central. Audric’s win includes a visit to the National Young Leaders’ Day in Sydney organised by Halogen Foundation Australia with air tickets sponsored by Scoot, and a three to six months internship programme at Halogen Foundation Singapore upon completion of his tertiary education.
Spotlight on 2014 National Young Leader Award winner, Audric Ping
Audric Ping Wei Xiang, a Singapore National Karate Team Player, is only 18 years old yet carries a “quiet charisma” very similar to that of an adult. The humble and hardworking ITE College Central Year 2 student comes from a single parent family as his mother passed away when he was 14. Audric actively coaches students in karate, and began organising self-defense workshops for women with the Singapore Karate Federation upon reading about the fatal Delhi gang rape in 2012.
With a strong desire to contribute back to society, he and his ITE project group mates designed a device to help the visually impaired, and were lauded at the ICreate A&RTs Challenge 2013. Audric is also a volunteer to the Marsiling Civil Circle that organises games and sing-a-long sessions for the old folks in the community.
Audric shares, “Many people may feel demoralised and inclined to focus on their miseries and give up. I choose to be strong and treasure whatever I have. It is tough for everyone in my family and I don’t want my father to worry about me. Also, there are many people who want to help others but are afraid of all the challenges. I like to challenge myself to the utmost. If I succeed, all is well and good. If I don’t, I will gain experience and keep pushing myself until I achieve my goals.”
Halogen360 (H360): What made you apply for the NYLA?
Audric Ping (AP): My school’s class advisor informed me about this award. After visiting Halogen’s website and finding out more, I decided to give it a try. My motivation was that by sharing the story of an ordinary youth like me, I could in turn inspire others to know that nothing is impossible.
H360: Share with us your experience throughout this entire journey.
AP: The process of NYLA was a very interesting one. Most of the time, for an award like this, students would submit their application forms and go through a standard round of interview, then wait for the results. However, in order to be selected for the top 5 placings, shortlisted applicants had to go through 2 rounds of interviews and a Student Leadership Practices Inventory score. A component of the score also included an online public voting. It was a great privilege and honour to be interviewed by judges that included Mr Baey Yam Keng, GPC Chairman for Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth, Member of Parliament of Tampines GRC and Ms Sandra Davie, Straits Times Senior Education Correspondent!
After all that I have been through on this journey, winning this award is certainly meaningful and sweet. As the saying goes, “小成就，靠智慧，大成就，靠团队”. Small successes rely on wit, but big achievements rely on team effort.
It’s easy to have small wins if I rely on myself, but this NYLA journey has shown me the power of how as a team, one can achieve so much more. Even friends who were overseas and very far away showed their support and cheered me on. I was also very touched to see my family, relatives and friends going all out to support and cheer for me. Without the support of this team, I doubt I would have come this far.
““小成就，靠智慧，大成就，靠团队”. Small successes rely on wit, but big achievements rely on team effort.” – Audric Ping, NYLA winner
H360: What were the two most memorable moments for you?
AP: The first would be sharing my story on stage at National Young Leaders’ Day in Kallang Theatre. It was my first time speaking in front of a large audience – around one to two thousand people. Initially, I felt very nervous, but as I went along, it turned out to not be too bad after all! I really enjoyed sharing my humble story with the youths present and hoped that some of them went home feeling inspired and motivated to do well in anything they embark on.
The other extremely memorable moment was at Conrad Hotel, when the winner of the inaugural award was announced. That moment was indescribable. The crowd was cheering, all lights were on me, and I felt incredibly proud of myself and for my family. I am certain that my mother would have been very proud of me if she were alive.
H360: How do you think you can use your influence as 2013’s winner to further impact the youths in our community?
AP: This award has definitely raised some awareness for Singaporean youths who come from a similar background as me. We might not be very academically inclined and life might also not have been entirely smooth sailing, but if we never give up on our hopes and dreams, we can still achieve! My karate coach always tells us that some people are born leaders, but many work very hard to become who they are. I hope others will be inspired to work hard to become a leader.
Dreams can become reality only if you have the fire burning in you to want to make a difference. I believe that with this desire and lots of hard work, you will eventually achieve your dreams.
This award has opened up many opportunities for me to share my humble story. Invitations to go back to my alma mater to give talks and the opportunity to have karate as a co-curricular activity have also allowed me to inspire my juniors to believe that everything is possible. Where there is a will, there will always be a way. Not only can I share my passion and love for karate with others, I can also learn from their stories and life experiences too!
H360: What would you say to the next batch of applicants for NYLA?
AP: Many people have the desire to help others but are afraid of the plausible challenges. Challenge yourself to the maximum of your abilities. If you succeed, I share your joy and accomplishment. But if you do not, gather experience and push yourself until you achieve your goals. Never give up!
Article by Pearlyn Yap The National Young Leader Award reaches out to a specific age group of young leaders ranging from 15 to 19 years old. By highlighting the stories of these young leaders, we hope to inspire a generation of young people to rise up and make positive contributions to their communities and the world.Want to recognise the efforts of youths? Encourage young people to step up and be proud of the good work they are doing. Nominate your student/peer for the next award. Visit http://www.halogen.sg/home/what-we-do/awards for details.