Monday 17 October 2016

Kevin Ngo

Happy birthday for tomorrow Kevin.

Here's a small token of appreciation for you below, the truthfulness and accuracy of which I know you will probably deny and/or dispute.


Kevin is something of a legend in these parts..

I met Kevin in one of my first ever uni tutorials for a subject by the name of "Foundies" as everyone (except for me) used to call it.

Little did I know it at that time, but I had just made friends with one of the most intelligent^ students in the grade. It is funny sometimes how paths can just randomly cross like that.

And here's the thing: Don't take this the wrong way but, I would never have guessed that he was that smart. There certainly were no flashy icons hovering above his head or other indicia warning me of the same --- but what I DID realise over time, and what became extremely obvious to me and everyone else, was that Kevin was friendly, jovial and full of laughter. And that was what counted.

So what am I trying to say? Well..based on the little life experience I do possess, it seems to me that there is often a tradeoff between intelligence, on the one hand, and social skills, friendliness & humility on the other. Quite remarkably, there is no such thing with Kevin. He is balanced. Often you will get incredibly smart but arrogant people. Or you might get bright but reclusive individuals. Not with Kevin. The tradeoff doesn't apply to him. I think people in our group of friends can attest to this without blinking their eyes.

On this note, there's another thing about Kevin that I want to talk about.

The fact of the matter is, and I can say this without hesitation: I certainly would not have survived uni without Kevin's help.

During 4th and 5th year, when the going got tough, I relied extensively on Kevin's 'counsel' and notes to get through the horrors of uni exams and assignments. We'd share notes together and discuss difficulties with our studies.

I do not know why Kevin chose me to be privy to this note-taking regime, but I'm grateful for it. In a very strict academic sense I can tell you quite honestly, without feeling guilty about any notions of false humility, that I had very little to offer Kevin in return.  On this point, before I get accused of being too humble or that I'm not really telling the truth about how capable I am etcetra etcetra, I just want to say that I'm not being humble at all. I see it as the objective truth.

The objective truth of the matter is that Kevin was at least a few levels higher in class than me. Kevin was an A; and if Kevin was an A, then any fair and objective assessment would determine that I was probably a C+ or a B- at best.

Of course, as I have already foreshadowed in an earlier tribute, Jason Wong was another invaluable ally that I could not have survived uni without but that is an entirely different story.

So, if there was one attribute I learnt about Kevin over those years, it was that he was loyal to the cause. I helped where I could in a limited capacity, but he helped me more than I helped him.

Even today, when I face some kind of issue, Kevin is always quick to jump to the rescue. A quick message about a particular hypothetical scenario (often without much context!!) to Kevin results in a very quick and detailed response. His second opinion is invaluable to me.

Of course, moving aside from all that, no write-up on Kevin would be complete without mentioning the fact that Kevin is also a sports fanatic like most of our friends. Unfortunately he falls into that special (but not uncommon) category of people who support the Sydney Swans* and Manchester United* LOL

My prejudices aside*, don't look at Kevin like that though, he is very knowledgeable with most sports. You can start a conversation with him about many sports and he will usually have a fair amount of background knowledge of it even if he doesn't actively follow it. I think this reflects on him well overall, as his general knowledge is also up there.

Kevin also always seems to me to be quite respectful to elders, and to his friends in general. But that doesn't mean he doesn't know how to have fun. He knows where the boundaries are and how to act in different situations.

I'll close now for fear of this becoming too long and disjointed. I take the opportunity now Kevin, to wish you all the best and many happy returns. Thank you for the comradery you have shown to all of us.

Andre Lim

^ How intelligent? I made a promise not to disclose this so I'm not at liberty to say. What I can tell you though is that I once saw his WAM and nearly fainted.

* They aren't that bad really, I'm just fooling around.

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