The struggles and success of a school dropout

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On the eve of the New Year, TISG brings you the story of Steven Saudararajan. Steven is a professional in the media industry and he tells us in his own words about the challenges he faced as a school dropout, his grit and will to succeed.


“I’m a school dropout” I replied with a smile to one of my friends who recently asked about my secondary school O level results.

Recalling back my time as a kid, I too had a passion like the rest. Mine was to be part of the Media industry.

In fact, I spent more time watching movies and dramas than going out with my friends. Well, my dad could see that in me as I would be more updated than the rest in movies.

During my teenage years, as a secondary school kid my interest in media became stronger and evident. I still remember those times using a cheap video cam loaned by the school to make videos of my classmates and the happenings in class. That was my first taste in creating a product (it was not perfect after all).

Everything went well till secondary 3 when I was faced with overwhelming stress. I didn’t have the ways of courage to handle this immense stress. I could not focus in my class. Very soon I realized that the kid who used to study quite good was no longer in me. He had long died before I could realize. Nobody was able to help me. I was subconsciously deaf to all those encouraging words from family and close friends.

The humiliation I faced from relatives and friends was much more painful than the stress I undergone. People started to judge me. My classmates and teacher were no longer talking terms with me.

Eventually I took on the title of being the only “SCHOOL DROPOUT” in my family. The title that nobody wants.

Everything was going wrong for the 15-year-old boy except for one. I felt weak at times giving up on myself. Nevertheless, there was one area God was having a stronghold on me. It was none other than the passion for media. Well this passion alone was not enough for me to go further in life.

How far can I go with only a Secondary 2 result slip?

I remembered borrowing a small video camera from a friend to take some amateurish shots. I used that to gain an entry into a private school. Where academic qualification is being concerned, many schools rejected me There was a time when I got rejected at the reception counter itself. Surprisingly, all these rejections failed to cease the fire of passion I had on media. Deep down I knew that I need a second chance to fuel that passion. Given the right direction of mentorship and guidance, this passion could be bigger than life for me.

I could see my mother praying for me every day. At that age, I did not know how true God was. But the tears shed by her was all I could see. The truth of a mother’s love pleading for her son’s future at stake. A son who does not have any academics. A son who is on the verge of having all the doors of opportunity closed right across his face. Perhaps I was too young to realize the implications it was going to have in my life. My mom knew well.

Finally, the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) accepting me after months of going to many schools. Before I could ride on that happiness comes a new setback. The school fees were very expensive. Coming from a middle class family, my dad was the sole bread winner.

I decided to work this out. I would go classes in the afternoon from 10am to 2pm . Upon returning from class, I would be helping out my dad to supply beverages to supermarkets and functions. I saved that hard earned pocket money as part of my allowances

Back in the new school, as my course mates took down their notes in their MacBook and laptops during lectures, I took mine on a simple jotter book. Often my peers laughed at me for this.

The diploma in film making was a 12-months programme. During the course of study, I had financial problems. I realized that after 10 months of studying. I could no longer continue with my diploma course I understand that I could not depend on my parents to support me. Thus, despite having no certificates, I knew that I need to work harder.

This time I went to restaurants to do pipe cleaning services for their beer machines. Often the hard labour took a toll on me physically and mentally. After one year of hardship I managed to save the necessary finances. I retook one more year to complete my diploma in film studies. I graduated the following year with a diploma in film making.

Today I am an editor who is actively engaged with the Tamil media in Singapore in editing projects ranging from commercials to dramas. Many people often ask me what is my secret for being able to make myself a small but respectable position in society without strong academics.

The answer is simple. Passion fueled with love. Love means family. Love means Parents. Love means my sibling. When things fall apart, all that was standing was only love to hold me up. You may give up on yourself. With passion fueled in the right way, opportunities will be created by you.

I believe that there are many Stevens out there like me struggling in their own way to fight the odds in order to achieve a goal or vision, (could be in any field or industry). If you are one of them, please do not give up. When there is a will, there is always a way.

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