Never give up. Keep going. Conquer your obstacles.
Kristina Liu, a recipient of our Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship personifies all of the above.. Currently a first-year undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics and Multi-lingual Studies, Kristina is an inspiration to many.
You would not have noticed anything different about her. The only difference is not on the outside, but the spirit she carries on the inside.
Kristina has a condition termed Nystagmus, which causes involuntary and repetitive movement of her pupils, reducing her ability to see things in a distance. She recounted the times in school when she had difficulty seeing the writings on the whiteboard and projector screens, even when she was right at the front of the class.
It was difficult, no doubt. She had to find other ways to keep up, such as copying her classmates’ notes and asking more questions. With the disability, she was forced to be intentional. In primary school, she got bullied by a few classmates due to misunderstandings which resulted from her disability. Ever the positive, Kristina mentioned that although there were a few bullies around, most of the people she met in school were really kind, and helped her along the way.
Despite the challenges, she still managed to emerge as a top student for her GCE ‘O’ Level examinations.
That was not the end.
Life dealt Kristina another blow when she was 17. A speeding van knocked her over, causing her to fall into a coma for a few days. The impact damaged the frontal lobe of her brain and she was later diagnosed with an organic brain syndrome, which requires long-term medication to help reduce the risk epilepsy seizures. Along the way, Oscillopsia, which is the oscillating, or violent movements of objects in her visual field also occurred. It caused her occasional dizziness and nausea.
One might ask if she ever felt like giving up. The answer is yes. Time and time again. The road to recovery from the road accident was a long one, which lasted close to seven years. In the seven years, Kristina had to leave her school, relearn many skills, which included communications, language, problem-solving, memory and motor coordination.
“I had to relearn many things, such as words, their meanings and associations. Very often I would have to ask ” she said.
Kristina recalled that it was one of the toughest and lowest points in her life, as she faced many difficulties trying to get back into the routine she was used to. It was then that she felt like giving up.
She tried many times, and failed many times. Through all the pains and tears, she found encouragement from her faith and stayed the path. Kristina is especially grateful to her mother for her unyielding love and support, and the friends who had witnessed her tears and stood by her. In all her triumphs, she attributed them to God.
Subsequently, Kristina was enrolled at Ngee Ann Polytechnic where she excelled.
Every word she utters is accompanied by a thoughtful smile. She counts every ordeal a blessing and an opportunity to learn and better herself.
“Through the accident, I learned many things including empathy, and it has also helped her grow into a more mature and better person. I am also inspired to be a speech and language therapist,” said Kristina.
Having personally experienced the benefits of good speech and language therapy in her own rehabilitation journey, she wishes to help other people regain their ability to communicate and live a fulfilling life.
What a story of undying perseverance and encouragement to all.
Kristina, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours. May you continue to shine and be a beacon of light to those around you!