Burdens eased by a bursary

24 October 2019 | Community
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From right: Alex with his bursary provider Mr Yeo

Alex Yang was wrapping up two years of National Service (NS) and gearing up for life as an NUS Business student in 2016 when his family was struck with bad news.

His mother, a clinic assistant, was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and had to leave her job to focus on her recovery.

With his limited NS savings and by taking up part-time jobs, Alex was determined to overcome all odds and excel at school.

“However, the school expenses and tuition fees gradually added stress to an already trying situation at home. There was always this nagging sense of guilt that I was a financial burden to my family,” the final year student said.

This year, Alex was selected as a recipient of the 2019 NUS Business School Alumni Association – Lim Pu Leh Bursary, which has eased his family’s financial situation. Today, Alex has a 4.22 grade point average and takes part in hackathons to develop his love of coding. In December he will travel to South Korea for a winter academic programme.

“I cannot emphasise enough how relieved my mother looked when I informed her of my bursary award, and how happy she was when I assured her that I was doing well in school,” he shared.

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(From left): ASAC member Mr Yeo, ASAC Chairman Mr Seah Cheng San, Prof Ho and NUS Alumni Relations Director Mr Bernard Toh with the cheque of funds raised by alumni donors

Alex took the opportunity to tell his story and thank his bursary provider, Mr Yeo Keng Joon (Business, ’85), at the NUS Alumni Students Advancement Committee’s Donor Appreciation dinner on 17 October. The event at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House honoured the more than 200 donors who have raised over $370,000 for needy students. The amount raised will be matched by the Tote Board and government, bringing the total sum to up to $900,000.

NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost, Professor Ho Teck Hua, thanked the donors and emphasised how seriously the University takes its stewardship of donated funds. As the donations are put in endowments, the returns are able to fund bursaries in perpetuity. 

Prof Ho also explained that donations have to be used only for the purposes intended by the donor. “Endowments and gifts are all with restricted purposes. If you give an endowment, let’s say, for cancer research, it cannot be used for bursaries. If you give for professorship, I can’t use it for scholarship. If you give for a bursary for medical school, I can’t use it for a bursary for engineering school,” he added.

Last year nearly 4,500 bursaries and scholarships were awarded to NUS students, with about half the recipients coming from the lowest 20 per cent of Singaporean households.