School Advisor Articles

The Making of a Chemical Engineer: Lance Simandjoentak’s Journey Through Diverse Learning Landscapes

Published by SchoolAdvisor | Jan 30, 2024

Lance Simandjoentak’s educational path paints a vibrant picture of a curious mind nurtured by supportive environments. His story transcends mere academic achievements, revealing a young man shaped by a love for learning, a commitment to personal growth and a passion for engineering ignited by a world beyond borders.

Lance studied in elc, GIS and Abbey College before pursuing chemical engineering at UCL

ELC International School: A Nurturing Ground for Exploration

The early years at ELC International School (elc), from Year 1 to Year 5, were not just a phase of academic growth for Lance; they were a holistic experience that shaped his character. Co-curricular activities (CCAs) played a pivotal role in broadening his horizons. Lance reminisces, “Solely dedicating periods in our timetables to attending CCAs helped me discover my enjoyment in other core aspects of my life such as physical activity and education, reading, drawing and much more.”

The learning environment at elc was a crucible for academic and personal development. Lance credits the teachers for their comprehensive and enjoyable lessons, making complex concepts accessible.

“I would have never imagined that I could process such detailed concepts as a young student; however, it was purely a success in the end, thanks to the teachers and pastoral support provided by elc.”

Participating in extracurricular activities at GIS allowed Lance to refine many of his soft skills.


Garden International School: A Leap Forward

Transitioning to Garden International School (GIS) marked a significant leap forward in Lance’s educational journey. Despite the initial apprehension of leaving familiar grounds at elc, GIS embraced him with state-of-the-art facilities and a supportive community. He reminisces, “I recall my first memory of visiting the campus in Mont Kiara, being astonished by all the facilities and welcoming staff and teachers that they fostered.”

The teachers at GIS played a pivotal role in Lance’s academic journey, ensuring constant monitoring and support. As IGCSE exams approached, extra support sessions were organised, contributing to Lance’s success.

“Many teachers took time after school to arrange additional support sessions for students, which I found contributive to my stronger performances in GIS. This also gave me a confidence boost outside of the classroom to strive for more, regardless of the challenges I faced, whether academic or external,” he says.

Despite focusing mostly on his studies, Lance still allocated time to participate in extracurricular activities, including the GIS golf team and the Make-A-Wish CCA, which fostered a work-life balance and enhanced his communication skills. These experiences became valuable assets for university applications and shaped him into a well-rounded individual.

For the IGCSE at GIS, Lance opted for a diverse range of subjects. “My future aspirations and what I wanted to pursue were very unclear. Hence, I believed that sampling a variety of subjects was the approach I wanted to take during my IGCSE.”

From triple science to English literature and business studies, he sampled a variety of disciplines, excelling in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. While other subjects brought Bs, Lance believes grades are only one piece of the puzzle. Lance is grateful for the supportive learning environment at GIS, especially the teaching departments that offered guidance and encouragement. He believes his enthusiasm for STEM subjects found its roots during this period.

Reflecting on his time at GIS, he says, “The past 7 years have formed many of my core memories and forged many of my long-lasting friendships up to this current day, which made learning in GIS so memorable.”

Abbey College's outstanding pastoral services and teaching excellence instantly made Lance feel at home upon his arrival.

Choosing Abbey College Cambridge for A Levels

Pursuing A-Levels at Abbey College, a top-performing boarding school in Cambridge, UK, was a deliberate step towards independence and cultural immersion. Leaving Malaysia wasn’t just about academics; it was about testing his wings, developing resilience and experiencing life outside a protected environment.

“With a top-performing institution like Abbey, which shines in pastoral services and teaching ability, everyone made me feel at home within days of arriving,” Lance says. “The house parents/boarding staff were amazing in doing their job in hosting weekly activities, engaging with students, settling any urgent matters and taking care of our wellbeing.”

By immersing himself in British culture and interacting with diverse ethnicities, Lance sharpened his perspective and networking skills. Abbey wasn't just about textbooks; it was about embracing the world outside his comfort zone.

The ‘Abbey Inspires’ talks and the Pre-Degree Diploma (PDD) further ignited Lance’s passion for chemical engineering. Reading about advancements in the field and presenting the works of pioneering engineers solidified his calling. Moreover, winning the best presentation award in his PDD group was pivotal, proving his aptitude for his chosen path.

Such an excellent learning environment led Lance to score A* in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics in A-Levels.

Lance believes having a larger network provides increased access to knowledge and resources, facilitating career growth, professional development, and guidance for broader career options.

International Education’s Impact

Today, Lance is pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering at UCL.

Having studied in international schools shaped Lance into a well-rounded individual. The emphasis on a balanced work-life experience and exposure to diverse cultures enhanced his perspective, while interacting with expatriate students improved the quality of his education, thus fostering a global mindset.

Lance believes that international schools allow local students to broaden their horizons. He shares, “I enjoyed the emphasis that elc and GIS placed on engaging in arts and crafts, volunteering, sports, wellbeing, and various other forms of personal development outside of the classroom. Simultaneously, they also focused on teaching us how to strive inside a classroom.”

Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Students

With graduation from elc, GIS, and Abbey behind him, Lance offers wisdom to those treading the path he once walked.

“Help will always be there for you, but you must be the one to seek it.” Admitting that he may not be the poster child for academic excellence, he attests his journey was paved with support from teachers, friends and family.

“Consistency is key,” he says, reflecting on the ups and downs of his academic journey. His secret was showing up and giving his best, even in the face of challenges. The sporadic bursts of inspiration might fade, but steadfast consistency was the beacon guiding him through academic storms.

Networking was another linchpin of Lance’s success mantra. “The bigger your network, the more access you have to knowledge and resources, and this will only help you strive for more career options, develop yourself on a professional level and gain guidance and encouragement to go further.”

Above all, Lance encourages seizing opportunities and remembering, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass by, but rather learning to dance in the rain.”