For close to four decades, Patrick Goh Seng Huat travelled the world as a flight steward with Singapore Airlines.
Now, the 60-year-old has embarked on a different adventure. He is back in school and pursuing a Diploma in Information Technology as a full-time student at Republic Polytechnic.
Patrick said he decided to further his learning as he searched for a new meaning in his life after 37 years working at Singapore’s national carrier. “I found that there was something more I could do, achieve or contribute,” he said.
Patrick’s keen interest in computers, iClouds and cyber security first led him to apply for a place in the Diploma in Infocomm Security Management course at RP. Unfortunately, he did not meet the qualifying criteria and was offered a place in the Diploma in Information Technology course instead.
But Patrick found a silver lining amidst the disappointment. He said: “I did not appeal for Security Management as I felt what was given to me in the end might be the best for me. What I understand is that Information Technology can work as a foundation of sorts.”
Although the ex-cabin crew member is no stranger to dealing with stressful situations, Patrick found that adapting to the surroundings at RP was an issue in the beginning. The last time he was a full-time student was in 1976 – the year Apple Computers was founded, the first commercially developed supercomputer was released and the supersonic jet Concorde made its first flight.
“To assimilate with the students, I had my apprehensions at first,” said Patrick. “But I can learn from them. They give me energy! In turn, I can impart my experiences.”
The skills he acquired through training workshops from his previous career meant that modules such as Organisational Behaviour are not only a breeze, but enjoyable as well.
Mathematics, however, proved to be a challenge as he had not taken the subject for some time. “So, there’s a struggle, but I enjoy that. I found them challenging, yet I found there was so much I enjoyed,” he said.
Patrick’s attitude has been lauded by those around him. School of Infocomm lecturer Julian Wong, Patrick’s mentor, called the 60-year- old “daring”. “I think there’s a desire to learn, a desire to acquire new knowledge and it’s very admirable,” said Mr Wong.
The lecturer added: “I don’t think there are many people out there who are as daring as Patrick…When you are young, you can do it, but when you come to that stage, you want that stability. For him, that’s amazing. He’s so lively, he’s so enthusiastic, he challenges himself.”
Patrick, who is married and has an 18-year- old son, vows to take his new education journey at RP a step at a time.
“I thirst for knowledge,” he said. “There are perhaps more skills or talent embedded in me that I have yet to uncover.”