DJ-actor Dennis Chew, who goes back to school at age 49, says he was touched by a word from his classmate

DJ-actor Dennis Chew, who goes back to school at age 49, says he was touched by a word from his classmate

It has been a few weeks since DJ Dennis Chew goes back to becoming a student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The popular radio personality and actor said going back to school feels like “drinking fresh orange juice every day and getting infused with vitamin C!”

In case you didn’t know hor, the 49-year-old made the surprise announcement that he would return to campus and would be pursuing a diploma in Chinese Media and Communication at Ngee Ann Polytechnic while accepting his All-Time Favourite Artiste Award at the Star Awards on 24 April.

He officially went to school the next morning on 25 April.

According to Zaobao, he goes to school every weekday, except Tuesday, and his school hours are usually from 8am until 6pm. Even when class ends earlier at 1pm, Chew would stay back in school for discussions with his classmates.

Classmates in school all sibei young

Sharing some of his anecdotes with Shin Min Daily News, the 49-year-old said: “My classmates are mostly aged between 17 and 22 years old, and some of their parents are even younger than me!”

But in order to upskill himself, he decided to return to his studies last year.

He said: “I applied for admission through formal procedures, including sending my resume and letter of introduction.”

In January this year, when Chew met up with the school’s lecturer and director. The director said to him, “Do you know that your classmates all go to bed early?” To which, Chew replied, “I also go to bed early at 10am and get up at 4.30am the next morning.”

The director then told him, “Your classmates don’t go to bed until 4:30 am…”

After a round of “interviews”, on the 1st of last month, which is April Fool’s Day, Chew received a call from the school congratulating him on his admission. At that moment, Chew said he couldn’t help crying knowing that it was not an April Fool’s Day joke.

“My dream of many years has finally come true!” Chew cried.

Initially, Chew was mistaken for a new lecturer. But he clarified that he was there to study.

Chew said that he goes to school every day full of expectations and joy, “To me, every day is like drinking a glass of fresh orange juice, filled with vitamin C!”

Loss of income means dipping into his own savings

Chew allocates his time for school and work according to the ratio of 4:6.

With such an arrangement, Chew said that his income from his radio job was greatly reduced as a result. Also, going back to school also meant that he would have to miss out on two variety shows and “lose” a movie contract because he won’t have the kind of flexibility he used to have anymore.

“I have to say frankly, I am really grateful to my company. Under such circumstances, the company is still willing to take me in and let me continue to stay at the TV station. I am really grateful!”

When asked if the sharp reduction in income will pressurize him financially, Chew said, “Well, I dared to make this decision because I checked my bankbook, hahaha!”

According to Chew, his mother is also very supportive of him going back to school. His mother told him as a matter-of-factly, “Studying is good, as long as you continue to contribute to the family, hahaha!”, Chew laughed.

Classmates don’t gossip about the local entertainment industry

When asked about the age and generation gap with his classmates, Chew thought about it and replied, “More or less, there would be some gap.”

However, Chew, who mocked himself as an “old man”, was deeply touched by the words of a classmate. A classmate, who is young enough to be his son, told him that since they are classmates, they have the same identities. They will not see him as an ‘older person’ because they are all classmates.

There are 20 classmates in his class, Chew, who has always been very child-like said he is the most shameless student in class, and his memory is not an obstacle to his learning. However, he said that his only trouble is when it comes to operating the computer.

In the almost paperless era, Chew, who is already familiar with using the computer said he still needs time to get used to it when it comes to using the editing software, etc. When asked about his course, Chew said, “This semester includes Chinese and English essay writing, photography, and media studies.”

When asked if his classmates are interested in the local entertainment scene, Chew’s answer is no. In fact, they don’t gossip at all. “My classmates are watching Chinese dramas and Korean dramas,” he said. Even though they do watch some local dramas selectively he revealed.

“My classmates prefer to watch more beautiful and larger-scale dramas, so I was thinking, should there be more local idol dramas? Can the state subsidize a little more production cost? Relax the regulations to allow local shooting of bolder themes?” Chew reflects.

When asked how Chew “separate” 24 hours a day while studying and working, he said: “I will have to plan my time every day and allocate my time properly. Because of this, I have less time to shop. I had to take my mother home as soon as we finished eating Japanese food on Mother’s Day because I have to go home to do my homework. Hahaha!”

Say real one lah hor. It is very admirable of “Auntie Lucy” to be willing to go back to school at the age of 49 leh. Imagine being the oldest in the class with such a huge age gap with all your classmates. Not easy ok!

It takes a lot of courage to do it. But we believe that the outcome of it will be very rewarding because like what Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said recently at Republic Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony, no one can take your knowledge and skills away from you one!

So hor, for those of you who keep thinking of wanting to upskill yourself but feeling too kiam kanna to spend money to invest in yourself, don’t say bo jio ok. Now your chance is here.

From now till 31 May, NTUC members can subscribe to LXP for a year and get one more year of subscription for FREE. This LXP app is so convenient until you can attend webinars and asynchronous bite-sized courses anytime and anywhere. You can also use your SkillsFuture Credit to pay for your full LXP subscription leh.

Don’t Say Bo Jio: NTUC celebrates May Day with lots of special deals and offers!


Mai tu liao, faster chop chop curry pok go sign up for this ‘Netflix of Learning‘! If you need more information hor, you can refer to this website:

If you’d like to contribute your story to us, drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll review it. We read each submission that comes to us within two weeks of receiving it.



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