FEATURE: Supported by friend, student graduates top of his year

By Lee Li-fa and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - Page 5

After four years of hard work and perseverance, Chen Po-hsueh (陳柏學) graduated from the Yung Ta Institute of Technology and Commerce in Pingtung County last week as his year’s top student in the Department of Management Information Systems.

Although graduating top of his class is an achievement in itself, Chen’s efforts are even more laudable considering that he has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair.

However, some credit must also be given to Lo Yen-chi (羅彥智), who has been Chen’s best friend and helping hand over the past decade.

It is a story of true friendship that has touched the hearts of many.

The two boys have been best friends since elementary school. When Chen’s health began to deteriorate, Lo chose to attend the same junior-high school as Chen and requested to be placed in the same class so that he could take care of his friend.

This friendship and volunteering service continued throughout vocational high school and into their time at college.

For more than 10 years, Lo has remained a true friend, pushing Chen’s wheelchair and carrying him up and down the stairs at school.

“It is wonderful to have Lo as my best friend. I feel blessed. I never felt alone throughout my school years,” Chen said.

Lo said that “before Chen developed muscular dystrophy, he was just like me, playing and running around, full of youthful energy, but after he became ill, his muscles began to weaken, and he had to use a wheelchair and endure a lot of pain.”

“I felt bad seeing him suffer like that. So I decided to stay by his side and help him,” Lo said.

“At school, I became Chen’s feet. After school, we often went shopping or to the cinema. I hoped to lift his mood by helping him,” Lo added.

Chen’s classmate Liu Chia-tsun (劉家村) said Chen’s family drove him to school every day, and then Lo would take over and look after his friend’s needs during and between classes.

“All the students were touched by Lo’s considerate assistance. He carried Chen up and down the stairs on his back, and also carried him to the bathroom,” Liu said.

“We all feel that Lo is a very kind-hearted, exemplary person. Following Lo’s example, the whole class helped take care of Chen. Everyone tried to help out,” Liu said.

He added that Chen has an optimistic personality, is very studious and gets along well with everyone.

Institute principal Chen Lien-tung (陳連棟) said this commendable friendship helped Chen face any difficulties with courage.

The principal added that during his four years at the department, Chen passed 27 qualification examinations including software applications, hardware testing and repair, and Web page design.

“Now he is graduating as the department’s top achiever. Despite his muscular dystrophy, he has a lot of determination. We expect his future to be bright,” the principal said.

Speaking about Lo, the principal said: “We praise his spirit of sacrifice in service of a fellow student. He is like a lit candle that burns to brighten up the lives of others. His kindness is an example for everyone.”

When he was awarded the top student honor, Chen encouraged his fellow students as they said goodbye at the graduation event on Friday.

Chen said he would never forget their help and constant support.

He wished the best for all his fellow students and said he would try to find a job to support himself.

“I believe Chen will achieve even more outstanding accomplishments as he heads into society. I am sure our friendship will not change, it will always be strong,” Lo said.