2019 Valedictorian Speech - Specialist Diploma in Educational Therapy - Nur Diana

Distinguished guests, colleagues, fellow graduates, families, ladies and gentlemen.


Like so many of us here today, I came to DAS having deep passion in my heart. I started out volunteering in the educational field and later moved to assist in educational research projects. What affirmed me into pursuing teaching for children with learning difficulties was when I was working with a group of students who struggled with reading and had great difficulties in developing their number sense. Back then, I had very little knowledge of what dyslexia and dyscalculia was. But throughout the 1.5 years on that project, I knew what I wanted to do. Fast forward to 1.5 years after, here I am standing before you. 

The start of this journey was a challenging one. I remembered the very first skill that every therapist must have is time management: juggling with assignments, attending lectures, handling different profiles of students and understanding them and at the same time dealing with our own emotions. But as time passes, I realized how important the work of an educational therapist was and how I was playing an important role to make a change in their lives. I especially love the start of a lesson when I asked my students how their day was. Some would narrate from the beginning with a full conclusion, some would build just enough courage to say that their day was ok, some would struggle to sequence their thoughts but everyone would patiently wait, some were excited to share about this pretty girl in class and some would share about the debut of a KPop artist. But at the end of the day, it tells me two things, that one they’ve found a safe space with no judgments to confidently share their life stories no matter how long it takes them to find the right words and two, they see this small class as trusted close friends although we only meet once a week. 

While today commemorates the end of us formally learning how to be an educational therapist, the truth is that today is only the beginning of a more exciting journey. I firmly believe that educational therapist isn’t just made through a 101 course, they’re made through experience. We became educational therapists when we re-considered many aspects of our teaching; the lessons, the questions to ask in class, the tasks we set for students. We became educational therapists through many discussions with our colleagues on what works best for the students. We became an educational therapist when we try our very best to cater to each unique child and want the best for them.

But our presence here today is not possible without the support of our families and friends. We have received so much support from our dedicated lecturers, who never got tired of seeing our faces every Wednesday for a good one year. Thank you, STs, CTs and educational advisors for guiding us from the very beginning of our career and listening to the rants we spewed during mentoring sessions. We also want to extend our greatest appreciation to our colleagues. Like Pele, the talented footballer said a great player is a player who can do everything on the field. He assists, encourages his team and gives them the confidence to go forward. Thank you, colleagues, for being that great player. Giving us the assistance, encouragement, confidence and unwavering support during our ups and downs. We are also very thankful to our families. Your irreplaceable love and understanding are our source of strength. It was your involvement in our lives that helped us persevere through difficult times.

To my fellow graduates, we’ve laughed, we’ve learned and maybe secretly tear. We have leapt over many hurdles. We fell, we bruised but we got up and we persisted. Let us be reminded of how we got here and the reason why we are here today. We educate but we are also advocates. Despite whatever challenges that come next, let us remind ourselves of our purpose and press on to teach and serve. 

Fellow graduates, congratulations!