Entrepreneur, visionary and pioneer of a number of industries in Indonesia, Mr Sukanto Tanoto, and his wife Mrs Tinah Bingei Tanoto, both had to leave high school before graduation in order to support their families and their businesses. Together, they founded the Tanoto Foundation which aims to reduce poverty and advance human achievement through scholarships, teacher training, building schools and the provision of healthcare.
The Foundation made a gift to the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM) to set up a scholarship fund to help needy undergraduate medical students with their tuition fees and medical expenses. In the words of Mr Sukanto Tanoto and Mrs Tinah Bingei Tanoto, “all people should have the opportunity to reach their full potential…Making a difference in people’s lives is, perhaps, the most satisfying thing one can do.”
An encounter with a cancer doctor inspired medical student Faith Leong to pursue medicine as a lifelong calling. For Faith, medical school could have meant her parents taking on an enormous loan to afford the fees, with years of debt after she graduated. Thanks to the Tanoto Foundation Scholarship, Faith is able to study medicine without any financial worries and can apply herself fully to studies.
“I am immensely grateful for all the financial aid that I have received thus far and will definitely be willing to give back to others who require similar aid in the future,” she says.
Faith may not have started working yet, but already she is giving back in other ways. In 2012, she was co-chairperson of the Public Health Screening programme, an annual free health screening organised by students of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Under her leadership, more tests were added to the screening to make it more useful to those being screened, typically less educated, lower-income individuals.
Faith believes deeply that medicine is not just a job, but a calling. While in pre-university, she was inspired, during an attachment to an oncologist in private practice, by the level of care and effort he made for his patients. During a power outage, he climbed 10 flights of stairs to personally retrieve heat-sensitive chemotherapy drugs and store them properly.
“He showed me the standard of care and ethics I would want to provide for my patients in the future as a professional,” she shares.