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Toh Zhi Hao's Time to Shine


Like refreshing flowers that bloom in winter, Zhi Hao’s journey to success brushes like a fresh breath of air that brings joy to those who have seen him grow and invigorates others who come after. A self-professed late bloomer, Toh Zhi Hao has definitely sprung from the earth in an explosive way, scoring a Bachelor of Science with Honours (Highest Distinction) in Chemistry at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and earning the President’s Graduate Fellowship to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry, all at the age of 24.

It was a day his childhood dream came through, in as magical a way only science can be. Toh Zhi Hao was a typical, albeit slightly reserved and awkward youth, struggling with teenage problems like the rest of his peers. Armed with a fantasy sort of intrigue about science and chemistry from his fairy tale-watching days, he was eager to learn what kind of magical potions he could concoct in science practical lessons.

However, he soon learned that reality departs from imagination. There were no blasts to be made and he couldn’t grasp his concepts and answers right the way his teachers wanted. He languished in the middle rungs of academic performance in the sciences in the lower secondary years.

In Secondary 4, something magical struck him that altered his impression of science, in particular chemistry and rekindled his passion in the subject. Like an epiphany, he woke up one day determined to make the grade. Setting to work immediately, he started to practice and perfect his chemistry concepts, paper after paper. Zhi Hao left Outram with a noteworthy distinction in Combined Science.

Applying the same formula of rigour and self-discipline, he ploughed through piles of practice papers, secured help during consultation clinics and even started coaching his classmates. Unsurprisingly, Zhi Hao graduated from the then Pioneer Junior College with Distinctions in H2 Chemistry and H1 Physics. Finally finding his footing in his passion, the budding chemist enrolled in the NUS Science faculty harbouring hopes of becoming an educator, spreading the love for Chemistry in young people.

With his characteristic vigour, he plunged into the daily workings of higher learning, adapting to the more dynamic and challenging system of tertiary education from 2016 to 2020. Zhi Hao certainly transited well by all accounts. He was on the Dean’s List thrice from 2018 to 2019 and the rest is history.

The ardent academic has 5 tips to share with his juniors in Outram:
    1. Pursue your passion with all courage
    2. Fear not hard work
    3. Seek help unabashedly
    4. Strengthen others with your knowledge
    5. Build competency and confidence through practice, practice and practice

Zhi Hao’s proud secondary school Chemistry teacher in 2011, Mrs Vivian Tan, credits his achievements to what he has always believed in: “Zhi Hao’s road to success was paved with determination and diligence. He is totally deserving of all his accomplishments.” 

Determination and Diligence. Magic starts with the letter “D”.