S’porean youth shares how he regained confidence after being made fun of for his skin, which affected his N-level results

His parents never gave up on him.

| Candice Cai | Sponsored | December 21, 2022, 11:03 AM

He was made fun of by his peers in school due to a skin condition which caused his skin texture to be uneven.

“I wasn't treated well by my classmates because of the psoriasis patches on my face,” shared 18-year-old Brendan De Silva.

“When they saw me they would call me names,” said Brendan, sharing how the hurtful words cut deep.

“It made me feel very sad,” expressed Brendan.

Being picked on by some of his classmates also made him dread going to school.

Brendan changed from being someone who was focused at school and excelled his tests, to a student who was demoralised.

His damaged self-esteem caused his N-level grades to plummet.

His mother, Brenda De Silva, 46, recounted how Brendan would often give her excuses such as having a headache so as to avoid going to school.

Despite failing to move on to the ‘O’ levels by a single point, Brendan eventually pulled through with the help of his mum, completing the Preparatory Course for Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) Examination (Intensive) and finding a community in which he was able to thrive at PSB Academy.

Breaking point

Brendan recalled how the taunts from his classmates in secondary school bordered on the physical at times.

“Some didn’t like how I kept answering the teacher’s questions correctly or how I’d get high scores on my tests and try to pick fights with me,” shared Brendan.

This interview with Brendan was also the first time that his mother had heard about the extent of the torment endured by her son.

And while Brenda had taught her son to take the insults in stride as just “sticks and stones”, knowing the proverb didn’t make their jeers hurt any less for Brendan.

Brendan shared how he would keep mum on what went on in school as he didn’t want his parents to worry.

That is, until he reached breaking point.

“That’s when he broke down and told me everything,” said Brenda, admitting that the pair share a very close bond.

She added that in the months leading up to the N-levels, she and her husband were “very, very worried” for Brendan, the third of their four children.

“Brendan is someone who, if not motivated, won't study, won't touch the books, and will just sleep his days away.”

Missing the cut-off requirements to progress to the O-levels by one point was the last blow to Brendan's self esteem.

“I was very distraught and felt hopeless.”

Brenda added: “He was very devastated. I remembered fetching him and he was crying and telling me, “Mummy, what am I gonna do now?”.

It is something no parent would want their child to go through.

Determined to figure out a way, she gave Brendan the hope that there were “other options out there”.

One private school she’d hoped to enrol Brendan in, however, left her with a bad taste in her mouth.

“They were not very nice because he didn’t do that well in the N-levels,” she recounted.

Upon a friend’s recommendation, Brenda was introduced to PSB Academy’s IGCSE programme.

The turnaround in Brendan’s demeanour was almost immediate.

Brendan with his mother, Brenda. Image credit: PSB Academy

Brenda could see a drastic change in her son’s attitude towards school and his studies.

Subsequently, his performance did too.

“He was excited to go to school and for the first time in a long time, he actually did really well and was very proud of himself,” shared Brenda.

The change was so drastic that Brenda couldn’t help but be incredulous when Brendan showed her his first top score.

“I said, ‘Are you sure? That sounds like you scored badly,” shared Brenda, when her son showed her his ‘C’ grade — which is the highest grade one can attain in the IGCSE core syllabi examinations.

She was only convinced when she received confirmation from Brendan’s lecturers at PSB Academy, where he’s currently studying for a Certificate in Business and Management.

From scoring Bs and Cs as well as having ‘ungraded’ subjects in secondary school, Brendan now regularly gets scores among the top of his class.

Throughout his time at PSB Academy, Brendan also discovered his knack and passion for numbers and is even looking forward to pursuing a diploma and eventually a degree in accounting.

Expressing astonishment at her son’s change, Brenda said, “I was really shocked, that the boy who didn’t know what he wanted to do and preferred his bed to books was ready to prepare for what he wanted to do in the future.”

“I was surprised that PSB Academy could do in one year what I didn’t manage to do for 15 years,” said Brenda laughing.

“I guess he has found his niche and found something he really loves. I’m very proud of him,” she added.

Brenda also described how unlike in secondary school, Brendan now looks forward to going for classes and is even up and ready ahead of time.

“Sometimes he asks to go to school early and I’ll ask him if he is going to see a girl,” she joked.

Regaining his confidence

The PSB Academy campus has also become somewhat of a sanctuary for Brendan, where he would study or just chill with his new-found friends.

Most importantly, Brendan has found an environment where he can be completely himself.

“In PSB Academy, my friends see me for the kind of person I am,” Brendan confided.

The focused and conducive classroom environment compared to secondary school is also what makes him enjoy life at PSB Academy even more.

“No one judges you, no one calls you names and everyone just makes friends with each other,” expressed Brendan.

While Brenda believes she made “the best decision” in placing her son in PSB Academy, she claims no credit for the drastic change in Brendan.

“He made the decision to stay on in PSB Academy to continue his education journey,” she explained.

Brendan with his parents. Image credit: PSB Academy

Sharing a little more about her parenting philosophy, Brenda added: “I always tell Brendan that ‘it’s really all up to you’.

“I’m just there to facilitate and guide him on how he can achieve what he wants. But at the end of the day, I tell him ‘you need to own that, it’s what you want and what you’ve done, and not what mummy or daddy wants you to do’.”

The future certainly looks bright in Brendan’s eyes, aspiring to be an accountant or eventually pursuing his dreams as an entrepreneur.

Brendan admits he couldn’t have done it without the support from his mother and his family, including his two elder siblings.

“My entire family is very supportive of me. Even after my N-levels when I felt hopeless, they didn’t stop supporting me and even found an alternative pathway for me to complete my studies. I’m really grateful for them.”

PSB Academy’s Preparatory Course for Cambridge IGCSE Examination (Intensive) is a five-month programme designed for N-level graduates to enable them to progress on to a certificate, followed by diplomas across 13 disciplines.

To find out more, head over to PSB Academy’s website.

This is a sponsored article by PSB Academy.

Top image via PSB Academy