They first knew each other on a lecturer-student basis.
But the bond between Mr Louis Ng Kok Onn, 38, and Mr Jason Jiang Jie Sheng, 25, has strengthened over time.
The adjunct lecturer at Kaplan Singapore and co-owner of an integrated communications agency made such an impact on Mr Jiang’s life that he now considers Mr Ng a confidant and life coach.
Mr Jiang is an N-level holder and an Institute of Technical Education Certificate in Culinary Skills graduate. After his national service, he obtained a Diploma in Counselling.
They met when Mr Ng was lecturing at the bridging studies course during his degree programme.
Thanks to his positive diploma studies experience, Mr Jiang went on to pursue his Bachelor of Arts in Web Communications and Public Relations (Double Major) awarded by Murdoch University, Australia, with the institution.
Mr Jiang said: “I studied counselling as I was interested in psychology. I realised later that it played a part in communication studies.”
“Mr Ng showed this correlation more clearly and that helped me be more interested in my studies.”
“He taught differently from many of the lecturers I had met before. He knew how to communicate his points in a way that enabled the students to remember the concepts clearly and easily.
“Even though he lectured us for eight hours, we never felt bored because he taught in a way that held our attention.”
He added: “After our last lecture, a few friends and I met him and talked about various issues, including our career aspirations. He patiently heard us and gave us advice.”
Despite his busy schedule, Mr Ng stayed in touch with Mr Jiang and his classmates.
This left a deep impression on Mr Jiang, who saw that Mr Ng was a man of his words and sought him out for advice.
Mr Jiang said: “I told Mr Ng about my plans to enter into a business selling baby clothes online with a partner who has a shirt-altering business.
“He listened intently and shared his experiences with me. He also helped me think through my plans.”
“Since then, we have continued to meet up at Kaplan or stay in touch through WhatsApp and other social media platforms. We keep in touch even when we are in different countries and time zones.”
“I have even sent him text messages as late as about 11pm, and he replied promptly. His advice is based on his working experience and he can show you how theory and practice can have vastly different outcomes.”
Mr Ng said he was inspired by Mr Jiang as well, especially after learning about his life story.
When Mr Jiang was 17 years old, he was preparing to intern at a restaurant as part of the requirements for his ITE course when his father suddenly died.
Almost overnight, Mr Jiang had to skimp and save to help support his mother financially as his elder sister, now 29, was in school at the time, and his elder brother, now 31, had just started working.
Mr Jiang said: “During my internship, I earned a gross salary of only about $500. Fortunately, my meals were provided, so I had to pay only for transport.”
“I also bought items on Taobao and resold them on Carousel for small profits. The money I earned enabled me to pay my diploma school fees.”
Mr Ng was amazed at Mr Jiang’s resilience and determination.
He said: “We are in the business of telling stories, and I feel that I am helping Jason tell his story. He is a gem that every lecturer would love to teach and interact with.”
“He will do well in his career, and I am glad that we have been able to keep in touch with each other in and outside the classroom environment.”
He added: “As mentors, we have the chance to influence the lives of our students.”
“We meet up even after they have graduated. Many of them do well, and we often have chances to work with them in various projects and capacities.”
“Jason has introduced me to artisanal coffee and showed me how baristas work. He also took me to his friend’s microbrewery.”
Mr Jiang also shared with Mr Ng his plans to marry his fiancee next year.
Mr Ng gave him advice about juggling work and studies, financial planning and taking time to communicate with his fiancee about family matters.
Mr Jiang said: “The good thing about being a part-time student is that I can combine my academic knowledge with my working experience after I graduate.”
“That will give me an edge when I apply for jobs or go into business later. As Mr Ng is also in the communications industry, his experiences are relevant and current.”
“When I talk to him about my problems, I can trust his advice more readily.”
Mr Jiang said he understands the importance of guidance and coaching as Mr Ng’s mentorship has been crucial in helping him progress in his studies.
He said: “I am grateful for the care and opportunities that Mr Ng has given me through our regular interactions.”
“Just as he has done for me, I will pay it forward and be a mentor one day if and when the opportunity arises.”
Article by Arulnathan John
Source: The New Paper© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.