Despite having learning difficulties, Theia Chong is on her way to realising her teaching dream, thanks to JCU’s pre-university programme
By Liling Koh
January 13, 2021
As a student, Ms Theia Chong struggled to stay focused in class due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The difficulties she faced have made her determined to become an educator — she hopes to take an active role in children’s learning journeys and make a difference in their young lives.
“Being around children brings me great joy and excitement,” says the 17-year-old who has worked part-time at a pre-school.
But due to her learning difficulties, Ms Chong did badly in her O levels. She was worried that her teaching dream would be dashed. She reached out to a senior from her secondary school who was enrolled in James Cook University (JCU).
That was when she learnt about JCU’s Pre-University Foundation Programme, which would prepare her for an undergraduate degree and offer the possibility of studying overseas in Queensland, Australia, where JCU’s other campus is located.
The eight-month full-time programme focuses on entry to JCU undergraduate degrees in business, business and environmental science, psychology, and information technology.
The programme also requires students to complete 10 subjects, including critical thinking, economics and English.
Ms Chong enrolled in the programme in July last year. “I have ADHD, so I need more time to grasp some concepts,” she says. But thanks to the conducive learning environment, the teachers’ enthusiasm and the lively delivery of lessons, she is able to stay engaged in class.
For example, her English language teacher got the students to make decisions by walking to the left or the right side of the classroom. The constant movement allowed Ms Chong to focus on the subject and learn more effectively.
“The teachers made me feel so comfortable that if I had any confusion (about my lessons), I would not hesitate to ask as often as I needed,” says Ms Chong. She has also decided to stay on at JCU and pursue a three-year Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Education), which would take her one step closer to her teaching dream.