SINGAPORE PARALYMPIAN & NEUROSCIENTIST, DR. WILLIAM TAN INSPIRES GRADUATES AT SAIS TO A PACKED AUDIENCE, & STANDING OVATION
Singapore, June 3, 2017 – Stamford American International School celebrated its second graduating class on 3 June 2017 with 52 graduates receiving their high school preparatory diplomas in front of their peers, teachers, family and friends. 100% of students who applied to go to university, have been accepted at their first or second choice.
In a beautiful emotionally charged ceremony on a stunning Singapore day, guests were treated to touching speeches, musical performances and outstanding academic recognitions.
A poignant moment for these graduates and distinguished guests was listening to the Ceremony guest speaker, Singaporean Dr William Tan. A neuroscientist, Harvard graduate medical doctor, world record holder and Paralympian, Dr William Tan is the personification of both passion and compassion. As a result of missing the polio vaccine, he contracted the disease at the age of two and became paralyzed from the waist down. Notwithstanding his disability, his parents put him on an inspiring education path where he graduated from the National University of Singapore. He joined the Civil Service, ventured abroad for postgraduate studies, with dreams of becoming a scientist and medical doctor. Almost two decades later, he graduated from Harvard University with a First Class Honours in Physiology, and trained at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Tan’s significant accomplishments did not start and end with academics as his drive extended way beyond the classroom. He became an accomplished sportsman being an Asian-Pacific Games triple gold medallist, he competed in the 1988 Seoul Paralympics, the World Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. He holds six endurance marathon world records including the “Fastest time to complete three marathons in Three Consecutive Days in Three countries”. In 2007, after 2 failed attempts, he became the first person in the world to finish a marathon in a wheelchair at the North Pole in 21 hours and 10 mins!
His journey and that of his parents, not to take ‘no for an answer’ when faced with challenges was the driving force for all that he has accomplished in life. Despite 2 failed attempts at the North Pole Marathon, we went back and conquered on the third attempt. Just when he thought he had done all he wanted on his bucket list, in 2009 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 (end-stage) leukaemia with a 12 months’ life prognosis. This proved to be another pivotal challenge for him both physically and mentally – but again like before, he rose to beat the odds with a bone marrow transplant, and a year later competed in the Berlin Marathon, and is now 7 years in remission.
Dr. Tan continues to race and has helped to raise funds for charities all over the world (S$18M and counting!) and in 2017 went back to race at the Boston Marathon, finishing 26 minutes faster against his PB!
His gift to Stamford Students was insights into 4 lessons for them to take away with them on their onward journey beyond school – #STRETCH #ADAPT #INTERGRITY #SERVE (#SAIS). As he finished speaking, there were very few dry eyes in the audience and a lasting standing ovation for a truly incredible man. What an inspiration for the Class of 2017 as they embark on self-discovery and choices which will define their impact on the world.