Philanthropy is a journey. At the Annual Giving Appreciation Night 2018, Professor Ho Teck Hua (’85), Senior Deputy President and Provost, commented that the why of giving is steadfastly lived and breathed by our annual giving benefactors. Assured of their own voices in the journey of giving, on this occasion, Prof Ho chose to share the voices of the recipients to illustrate the impact of giving – a later part of the journey that entails reflection and affirmation by both donors and recipients.
One of the stories that Prof Ho shared was of Ms Mak Shin Yi (’14), who hailed from a humble background. Besides giving tuition, she was taking on part-time jobs, working in cafés to pay for her school fees at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Law school. It was the Kwa Geok Choo Bursary that made it possible for her to stretch her wings, enabling her to take part in the NUS Student Exchange Programme, where she studied in Madrid, Spain in her third year. Additionally, she also interned with the United Nations in Geneva over two summers.
Upon graduation from law school, Ms Mak started her career with one of the big four law firms. When she received her first paycheque, she contributed a portion of it to NUS Giving, ever emphatic about giving back so that others may flourish as well.
In honour of the graduating students who made donations to assist their juniors at NUS, Prof Ho then presented this year’s Commencement Class Giving awards to the top faculties, halls and class champions who gathered the highest number of graduating peers to participate in class giving.
Another highlight of the evening was the gift of classical and pop sounds by the Lorong Boys, whose members came from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Donors, alumni, faculty staff and friends, along with NUS bursary and scholarship recipients were treated to engaging arrangements and performances of uplifting music.
The evening also saw fourth year Psychology student, Joey (chosen name), share her tale of overcoming great odds: an unemployed, abusive father loomed over her days whilst her mother struggled with cancer. When they could not afford chemotherapy, she saw her mother fade and eventually pass away when she was 14 years old.
Ever in danger of falling through the cracks, it was with grit and determination through years of adversity that Joey finally plucked up enough courage to leave home when she was 19 years old. She then embarked on her first year of study at NUS, with financial assistance from NUS. In her third year, she was awarded a bursary by NUS to go on a student exchange programme, where she stayed at Vancouver, Canada for a year.
Joey was keenly aware that her transformative experiences were made possible through the donations of benefactors and expressed her heartfelt gratitude, promising to pass on such kindness in the future. (For Joey’s full speech, click on the link at the end of this article.)
In many ways, this year’s Annual Giving Appreciation Night communicated the journey of giving and came full circle as recipients affirmed the gift of annual giving by donors, and they in return, embraced the start of their own journey of giving.
For indeed it feels and rings so true for the many who believe in giving and have been personally transformed by it, by donors and recipients alike. For we rise when lifted by others. We rise again by lifting others.
For information on Annual Giving, or making a gift to NUS, contact us at 1800-DEVELOP (1800-338-3567) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.