The pool of funds in the Tay Teck Eng Dental Bursary, set up to remember and celebrate the life and values of the late dental surgeon Tan Sri Dr Tay Teck Eng, never seems to deplete despite two bursaries being awarded every year since it was set up in 2007. To date, the Bursary, which supports promising dental students at the National University of Singapore (NUS), has benefitted eight students.
There isn’t a magical formula to this though. Mr Tay Wei Lien, the son of the late philanthropist, dentist and academic, has been adding to the pool each time a “milestone” birthday comes around.
“Instead of receiving gifts that I might not need, I thought I’d ask my family and friends to give to NUS instead on a “no obligation” basis,” said Mr Tay, who raised S$12,000 for the Bursary at his recent 65th birthday celebrations. He had raised S$14,000 on his 60th birthday in the same manner.
Mr Tay, whose father was an alumnus of the King Edward VII College Of Medicine, a predecessor institution of NUS, is a strong believer in philanthropy and giving back, particularly to education. “The university was responsible for Dad’s education and set him on the path to break out of the poverty cycle and to make a success of his life,” he said.
Dr Tay had come from a humble background and would have dropped out of college if not for the generosity of a stranger who paid his dental course fees in full. After he graduated, he actively supported the advancement of dental and medical education in Singapore and Malaysia and played a part in the setting up of the School of Dentistry at the University Of Malaya. He was also a stalwart supporter of charities such as the Society for the Physically Disabled, the Singapore Cancer Society as well as Rotary and Rotaract Club community service activities.
Mr Tay hopes that recipients of the Tay Teck Eng Dental Bursary will emulate his father’s “spirit of community service and willingness to return blessings to the needy, in gratitude of blessings received”.
His advice for recipients of the Bursary?
“Work hard as God only helps those who help themselves, and be mindful of needs around you. Be content and grateful for the little blessings that come your way and remember Health is better than Wealth!” he says.
This year, in tribute to the 90th birthday of Singapore’s Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, NUS will dedicate gifts and pledges recorded by the University from 1 January to 31 December 2013, with the consent of our donors, to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In addition, NUS has set up the Lee Kuan Yew Endowed Fund which will go towards bursaries for financially needy undergraduate students.
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