Nur Istiqamah – iStudySmart™ Alumnus

Hi, my name is Nur Istiqamah, also known as Isti for short and I have just graduated from Lasalle College of The Arts with a Diploma certificate in Design Communication and Experiences. At the moment, I am doing my own artwork and participating in an abstract art competition.


In my three years at Lasalle College Of The Arts, I discovered my passion for abstract art despite initially being in a Design Communication course without a Fine Arts background.


During my final year project on inclusivity, focusing on dyslexia, I faced challenges explaining my ideas to my lecturer and broke down in tears due to feeling overwhelmed. I hadn’t informed the school about my dyslexia. However, after reaching out to my lecturer Shawn and creating a mind map to tackle challenges, Mrs. Joanne’s support encouraged me to disclose my dyslexia to the school. 


At that point, I joined the iStudySmart™ programme and Mrs. Joanne helped me navigate my end-of-year project, where I found solace and healing in art. The poster I created conveys a powerful message: “I am not stupid,” using digital and hands-on elements by having the alphabet erased, duplicated, and rotated. Experiencing frustration is what happens when you’re mocked, and that’s exactly how I felt.


In primary school, I faced exam failures without my parents knowing about my dyslexia struggles. The principal eventually informed them, leading to support recommendations. Although I attended DAS, financial constraints led to discontinuation. I attended free tuition to help me prepare for PSLE and it helped me progress to Secondary School, where three years of persistent bullying left me lacking confidence.


My pronunciation, grammar, appearance, and everything else were made fun of by some of my classmates. Unmotivated and feeling intellectually inadequate, I endured the demoralizing experience of being separated by grades. After secondary school, I enrolled in ITE College Central for a 2-year NITEC Space Design Architecture program. There, I found a supportive circle of friends who altered my perspective, fostering a positive environment. Enjoying my time at ITE, I secured an internship at Swan & Maclaren, a renowned architectural firm in Singapore.

In my generation, support was scarce compared to the wealth of resources available today. Teaching approaches have evolved significantly. I faced financial challenges, leading to discontinuation of tuition, and encountered numerous obstacles, often feeling uncertain about my actions. The label of being “slow” haunted me, triggering doubts about my intelligence and future success. I take criticism with a smile and strive in my beliefs and my dreams. 

A lesson I learned the hard way is to avoid excessive self-indulgence. Instead, establish a timetable to organise your daily routine—craft one that suits your comfort and needs. When in need, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Voicing your struggles might feel challenging, but it’s crucial to recognise that if you don’t seek assistance, others won’t know you’re facing difficulties. It’s okay to take time to become comfortable with asking for help. Parents should avoid being harsh, especially when their child faces failure. Instead, offering words of encouragement can uplift their spirits and motivate them to improve in their exams. 


I lacked significant support during my time in school, unable to confide in anyone, including my parents, about the bullying and academic struggles. Keeping all those emotions to myself inflicted deep pain. I wished for someone I could trust and feel comfortable sharing with. As I’ve matured, art has become my closest companion; a means through which I express my life story. 

I told myself, “you have the choice to choose.” I may be slow but I never give up. Your talents are within you. Adversity can be overcome with this powerful weapon. Never doubt what you can achieve if you allow belief to be your best friend. When grappling with instructions, consider recording and replaying them repeatedly. This was a technique I employed both in class and during my internship at STPI Creative Workshop Gallery.

Raising awareness about dyslexia is crucial to foster understanding of the challenges faced by dyslexic individuals. In my generation as a Normal Technical student, I had limited subject choices compared to other streams. There’s a need to provide more options for exploration, similar to what Normal Academic and Express students have. Teachers can enhance the learning experience by adopting creative and diverse teaching approaches. The current generation is fortunate to have a wealth of resources to aid their struggles, and it’s essential not to overlook or squander this privilege.

Passionate about art, it has transformed my perspective and boosted my confidence. Pablo Picasso’s use of art to express feelings was inspiring; it showed me I’m not alone and can convey myself uniquely. In secondary school, a friend claimed I couldn’t draw well, and I agreed. However, studying at Lasalle College of the Arts shifted my perspective. I learned that art isn’t limited to drawing; it can encompass virtually anything. 

View failures as stepping stones toward success, and allow yourself the space and time needed for healing and self-love. In the midst of an existential crisis, I remember taking a solitary walk at the Gardens by the Bay. Enjoying my own company, I reassured myself, saying, “It’s okay, Isti. You’ve conquered many challenges. At 22, I’m not expected to have life completely figured out.”


Your emotions are valid. Strive to shift your perspective towards the positive. Remind yourself that if others can achieve it, so can you. Acknowledge and embrace your own pace in reaching your goals. Life unfolds in chapters, akin to a story; stay curious and explore what it has in store. Go beyond your comfort zone, for it is on this journey that you’ll uncover more about yourself. A quote by Tony Hadley has helped me and it will help you too, “Be open-minded so you can always see the other side of the coin.”


The iStudySmart™ Programme aims to empower students to become confident and independent individuals through the acquisition of time management and prioritisation skills, planning and organisation skills, tertiary writing skills and presentation skills, critical in building a strong foundation for success in higher education and beyond.

Click here for more information on the DAS iStudySmart™ programme and how it can help you.