“Make the most of the opportunity. Enjoy life. Be the best you can be. Give back when you’re ready.” These words of advice that the National University of Singapore (NUS) alumnus Mr Seah Cheng San (’82) shares with bursary recipients may well reflect his life.
Mr Seah, who championed the establishment of the Dunearn Road Hostels/Sheares Hall (DRH/SH) Alumni Endowment Fund and the Engineering Class of ’82 Bursary Endowed Fund at his alma mater, received a Singapore Armed Forces (Local) Scholarship to study Engineering at NUS. He went on to a fulfilling and enriching career that enables him now to help others.
Mr Seah says, “In those days, about three percent of the cohort made it to university. Most of us came from poor families. We were the lucky ones who made it and I want to give back and help students in need. My feelings are shared by many of my friends, so it was not too difficult to gather support for these bursary funds.”
The DRH/SH Alumni Endowment Fund, set up in 2009, has benefitted 26 students in the last two years (FY 2010 and FY 2011). Thanks to the very successful Charity Golf event, held recently to commemorate 60 years of Dunearn Road Hostels and 30 years of Sheares Hall, the DRH/SH Alumni Endowment Fund, initiated by Mr Seah, will be able to support 27 bursaries annually for Shearites in need.
The Engineering Class of ’82 Bursary has been awarded to 20 students since 2010. This is the first bursary fund at the Engineering Faculty (FoE) to offer *sub-naming opportunities. For instance, Chew Wen Xuan, a Second Year student at FoE received the Eng @ 82 – Yeoh Oon Teng Bursary in FY 2011, established by Mr Steven Yeoh in his father’s name. Sub-naming has been a growing trend among Class gifts being set up at the University.
Buoyed by these successes, Mr Seah wants “to do more” as he feels there are many other students that he could help.
He says, “The Bursaries help students who are at the margin. They are making ends meet by working at part-time jobs or tutoring and their grades suffer because they’re too tired to apply themselves to their studies. The Bursary can take some of the pressure off them or even allow them to experience life in a Hall, which may otherwise be out of their reach.” And, as he says, by helping these students graduate and enter their professional life, one helps an entire family gain access to a better quality of life.
Mr Seah is a strong proponent of students experiencing life in a Hall. He lived at Dunearn Road Hostels and Sheares Hall and has many warm memories of the Reading Room in DRH and having supper at a sarabat stall at the Adam Road hawker centre. He developed many strong friendships there and he still meets his core group of friends regularly, including taking holidays together with their respective families. And best of all, he met his wife there, who was a fellow hostelite at Dunearn Road Hostels.
As Mr Seah sums up, “I enjoyed my time at the University. I benefitted from it. Now, it’s time to give back.”
*Sub-naming allows individual donors who are a part of a collective gift of $250,000 or more to create bursaries in the name of someone by making a minimum contribution of $25,000.