Pride and joy: Phugeneswaran being congratulated by his parents Kanniappan Munusamy (right) and Wigenesuri Kanapathy at his school.
KUALA LUMPUR: Seeing tears of joy on his teacher’s face when he scored an A for Science two years ago is the driving force behind a student’s string of 7As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exam.
K. Phugeneswaran was so moved by his teacher’s reaction to his only A in the Penilaian Menengah Rendah test that he harnessed it as his motivation to study hard.
“From then on I wanted to make all my teachers happy,” said the former SMK Seri Bintang Selatan student.
But it wasn’t easy for the boy because there is no water and electricity in his house as his parents are too poor to provide that comfort.
So the boy, the eldest of five children, studied and slept in the school canteen or the assembly area for two years.
His father is a school clerk while this mother is a security guard at another school.
Two months before the SPM examination, Phugeneswaran took up a part-time job as a pizza maker in a supermarket to pay for books for extra classes and tuition.
“My teacher Puan Raja Faziatul Hanim Raja Azie also stayed after school hours to tutor me.
“I want those who are poor to know that as long as you have the will to do well, you can do it,” he said, adding that he wants to become a lawyer.
Raja Faziatul said Phugeneswaran was well-mannered and always came to class neatly dressed with his school shirt tucked in.
“Even when he was bullied by the other kids, he smiled. He was never seen pitying himself despite his difficulties,” she said.
“Most of the teachers knew about his situation and wanted to help him with money but he never accepted because he didn’t want to trouble us.”
She said it was a testimony to his strength and will to succeed.
Another teacher, Salina Abdul Manaf, said Phugeneswaran was the only student who went looking for all his teachers to thank them after he received his results last week.
His story went viral on Facebook when teacher Zaireen Zainal Abiddin posted it and it was shared more than 7,000 times.