A gift from alum and former scholar, Mr Raymond Goh (Business ‘89), is helping Jazmin Quek pull through difficult times and is inspiring her to give back in her own way.
Eleven-year-old Jazmin Quek’s world crashed when her elder sister passed away in a motorcycle accident. Hounded by reporters, the family went through difficult times.
“My mother became depressed and both my father and elder brother had difficulty coping with my sister’s passing as well. Overnight, my family grew cold. There were no more breakfasts and no more laughter,” recounts Jazmin, of the adversity she had to face at a very young age.
Today, Jazmin is going into her third year as a student at the NUS Business School and a proud recipient of the Kwai Fong and Raymond Goh Scholarship.
“I came from a very ordinary family. While we did not toe the poverty line, my family was not wealthy either. One of my fondest childhood memories is the simple activity of eating steamed buns as a family on Saturday mornings, followed by porridge with tofu and vegetables for lunch,” Jazmin reminisces fondly.
Between taking care of her family and managing household chores, Jazmin grew up fast. She also had one other thing to worry about, earning pocket money for daily expenses. The creative and enterprising young girl started making bracelets to sell to her friends, and later moved on to creating hand-drawn name stickers, which sold for more money.
Having lost her sister who had helped her with Mathematics, she plucked up her courage and sought help from friends in church to prepare for PSLE. Her determination paid off and she managed to do well enough to enter the express stream in a neighbourhood school.
“My family’s financial status often made me feel self-conscious and different from my classmates, who had the luxury of asking their parents to buy toys for them. But this experience allowed me to discover my passion for drawing and craftwork, and I learnt how to manage my time efficiently between schoolwork and ‘business’,” says Jazmin, whose father worked long hours to fund her university studies.
The Scholarship not only lightened the financial burden for the family, it also inspired Jazmin to focus on the most important aspect of university life – learning.
“The generosity from the donor inspired me to similarly give back and help others in the community, hence I joined many different activities in the Community Service Club,” explains Jazmin, who headed marketing activities for a community service project which aimed to refurbish the houses of the elderly who are living in single rental rooms flat in Singapore.
She also led a team of 18 to Cambodia to undertake volunteer work.
“We raised S$3,000 in a single week, and then over the course of two weeks in Cambodia, we built a bridge, conducted 64 lessons and organised Christmas parties for the children,” she shares.
The thoughtful and creative business student is constantly looking for ways to spread some kindness, from purchasing bread and leaving encouraging notes for the homeless and construction workers, to distributing bananas to strangers. She even took the time to hand paint greetings cards for donors.
“It was such an honour to meet my scholarship donor, Mr Raymond Goh. I was inspired and encouraged by his account of how he used to be poor and how he too benefitted from a scholarship when he was a student, which enabled him to be where he is today. I am privileged to have had this opportunity to express my gratitude to him in person, as well as to hear his story. My goal is to do the same one day,” she adds.
“I was fortunate to be a recipient of scholarships when I was an undergraduate at NUS. This is just my way of paying it back. I always cherish the opportunity to meet up with the scholarship recipients. On top of putting a face to the name, it also allows me to get to know them more intimately. Just like Jazmin, they are all well selected and invariably are smart, hardworking and passionate individuals.
I would say to the recipients: Take full advantage of the scholarships/bursaries to free yourself from your financial worries and focus on getting as much as possible out of your university education. And one day when you are ready, help others who are similarly in need of financial aid. Pay it forward.”
Mr Raymond Goh (Business ’89)