Bubbly and outgoing, Sophie Soon may seem like any other 19-year-old you meet. However, her slew of achievements, musically and athletically, bear testament to the determined spirit and hard work of this extraordinary teenager.
Diagnosed with cone rod dystrophy as a child, which results in deteriorating vision that may lead to eventual blindness, Sophie’s visual impairment has not stopped her from pursuing her interests and taking up new challenges. Her flair and passion for the violin saw her performing alongside The Sam Willows at the 2014 President’s Star Charity. She also represented Singapore in swimming at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games where she bagged a personal best timing in the 100m-butterfly event.
These days, Sophie balances her pursuits in music and sport alongside her workload as a business management student at Nanyang Polytechnic. She tells us more.
How do you go about daily life with cone rod dystrophy?
Cone rod dystrophy is the deterioration of retina cells starting with the ‘cones’, which give you day and colour vision followed by the rods, which help you see at night. I have always been happy-go-lucky and my condition is not something I think about that much. I wasn’t responding to things at a young age until they were brought a lot closer to me. For example, when I read, I would put books really close to my face.
I might not be able to take the bus because I can’t see the bus numbers and sometimes have difficulty seeing what’s written on the whiteboard in class. I also sometimes require assistance when I’m out. However, in terms of my morale, I don’t think that it has affected me that much.
How do you keep up with your varied interests and commitments on top of academic studies?
I believe in enjoying life and everything you do. I don’t see the things I have to do as chores but rather areas that that I am interested to pursue further. For example, in school, I really enjoy the subjects that I’m studying and am always up to finding out more. You may not have a choice in some instances. However, in those cases in which you do, you should choose what you have a passion for and commit to it.