“I am where I am today because of Singapore’s meritocratic society and the PSC Bursary, which enabled me to go to University,” says the soft-spoken Dr Chan Kin Ming (’83). Over the last few years, Dr Chan, a geriatrician, has been giving regularly to support bursaries and scholarships at his alma mater, the National University of Singapore (NUS), through the University’s Annual Giving* campaign.
Dr Chan, who set up Singapore’s first geriatric centre at Alexandra Hospital, says, “When you go through university on a bursary, you are mindful that your education has been made possible thanks to someone’s generosity. It ingrained in me the need to help other students like me improve their situation and get on with life.”
Dr Chan believes in supporting both scholarships and bursaries – the first to reward excellence and the other to give a chance to those whose true potential remain unfulfilled due to financial constraints. “There are many such students and that is pure waste,” he says.
Dr Chan knows what he is talking about. He grew up in a “one-room, half-hall” flat with his parents and two siblings. His father, a book-keeper, passed away when Dr Chan was in secondary school. “Without the Bursary, I could not have gone to University,” he says.
A firm believer in the power of education to improve lives, Dr Chan says, “I believe that education is the only way in which one can move out of poverty and make a positive contribution to society. That is something you can ignite and it can spread. You help one person and that person helps another, leading to widespread impact.”
Dr Chan’s advice to the recipients of his gifts is simple. He says, “Be grateful. If we have been recipients of an act of generosity, we owe it to ourselves to extend the same to someone in a similar situation in a show of our gratitude. If the gift that we have received stops with us, the cycle of giving ends.”
He ends by saying, “It is a worthwhile cause and each of us has a part to play.”
Dr Chan is part of the Tan Jiak Kim Circle, which recognises donors who make an annual gift of S$10,000 and more to NUS. The Circle is named after the University’s founding benefactor.
*Annual Giving is a yearly fundraising campaign that supports NUS students in many ways, from bursaries and scholarships to funding books, sporting events and the arts. In Academic Year 2012, NUS awarded 3,768 bursaries and scholarships with significant support from Annual Giving.