Having faced many setbacks and obstacles in her life, National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Ong Yi Ling, a recipient of the Howe Yoon Chong Bursary, refers to the financial aid she receives as a ‘life-saver” for her and her family.
The Bursary was set up by The Straits Trading Company Ltd in honour of its late chairman, Mr Howe Yoon Chong, and it supports undergraduates facing financial difficulty pursuing the undergraduate Economics programme at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Yi Ling comes from a low-income family with two younger siblings currently studying in a local polytechnic and primary school. Her parents worked as hawker sellers, but due to escalating rental costs and deteriorating health conditions, they were unable to work full-time to support the family.
“My father took on odd jobs while my mother became a full-time housewife to take care of my younger siblings. Our household income was very low and we could barely survive. We were lucky to receive help from our relatives and the government,” Yi Ling shares.
To add on to the family’s woes, Yi Ling’s mother passed away unexpectedly in 2014. Her family was devastated at the sudden loss and her father’s health condition also worsened.
“Things were very hard for the first few months but we managed to get our life going as usual. It is definitely different without my mother, who was in charge of our household chores and our meals. Now, we have to do everything by ourselves,” she reflects.
With a heavy financial responsibility on her shoulders – being on a study loan for her University fees and having to pay for household bills – Yi Ling took up part-time jobs during the school holidays and during term time to help supplement the household income. Receiving the Bursary has provided timely relief to her family in difficult times.
“I am very grateful for the Bursary as it has helped us a lot financially, especially at this point in time when we do not have a stable source of income and university fees are definitely not cheap,” she expresses.
Despite the many difficult obstacles she faces, Yi Ling continues to be positive and is currently having a fulfilling life both within and outside of campus. Yi Ling is part of the NUS Cultural and Activity Club and practices hip hop dancing. In addition, she volunteers her time as a Grassroots leader with the Kaki Bukit Grassroots Organisation, planning events and activities for needy children, youths and the elderly.
She shares, “I am really motivated by the sense of satisfaction and contentment when I do my part to improve the lives of others. I am really thankful for all the help and assistance that I have received and being a member of a low-income family myself, I hope that I am able to contribute and help others who are in need, just as how much as I needed a helping hand in difficult times.”
With a giving heart, Yi Ling not only hopes to strive for academic success at NUS, but also, continue to do her part and serve the community to the best of her abilities. Her positivity and undaunting spirit towards life’s challenges is highly commendable.
“It is also the satisfaction that you gain from helping people that makes you understand that happiness is actually not difficult to achieve,” she says.
Fascinated in the interconnections between the financial markets and human behavior, the Year one Economics major hopes to work in the banking and finance industry after she graduates from NUS.
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