Just a year after she joined NUS, Shinyi Mak’s education fund, which she and her parents had painstakingly put together, was running low. Shinyi, now a Second Year student at the NUS Faculty of Law, was reluctantly considering asking a relative for a loan, when she received news that she was to be awarded the Kwa Geok Choo Bursary.
The Bursary is one of four initiatives established at the Faculty of Law to honour the memory of Madam Kwa Geok Choo (also known as Mrs Lee Kuan Yew), an illustrious NUS alumna, with gifts from Drew & Napier, Keppel Corp, Ngee Ann Kongsi, Rajah & Tann, Sembcorp, Singapore Press Holdings and Wing Tai Foundation (by Wing Tai Holdings Limited) . Their gifts also support Graduate Scholarships, a Professorship and a Distinguished Visitors Programme.
Shinyi says, “The Bursary came as a huge relief for me. My father has been unemployed for the last few years and I was doing my best to be financially independent by juggling the rigours of law school with tutoring and part-time jobs. It was extremely stressful. Thanks to the Bursary, I’m coping a lot better now, specially since it saved me from borrowing money and living with the emotional burden of being in debt.”
Alvin Ee, a First Year student at the Faculty of Law, is also receiving the Kwa Geok Choo Bursary. One of two children of a taxi-driver, Alvin has been contributing to the family income for the last three years. He would have continued to do so while at NUS by taking on part-time work. Now, thanks to the Bursary, he says, “I can focus on my studies and spend some time with my friends.
“Singapore gives people equal opportunities to succeed. I am grateful for the financial assistance that I have received. This Bursary has reinforced my belief in helping disadvantaged people who may not have as many opportunities as others.”
Shinyi agrees, adding, “No matter how meritocratic the system is, a person’s true potential is limited by circumstance. Just as education is empowering, lack of money is crippling. I have experienced this first-hand and I would not be where I am today without the financial aid that I have received from the government and altruistic individuals. My own experience has taught me that giving to educational institutions is an essential complement to Singapore’s meritocratic system. Without financial support, I may well have been left behind.”
For Academic Year 2011/2012, six students are benefitting from the Kwa Geok Choo Bursary, while two students have been awarded the Kwa Geok Choo Graduate Scholarship. The legal fraternity also welcomed Professor Kevin John Gray, Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge, as the first Kwa Geok Choo Professor in Property Law. And recently, Mr Gary Born, an authority on international commercial arbitration and international litigation, was Visiting Professor and first Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitor.
For more information on making a gift to NUS, please call Ms Ho Yuen Kwan at 6516 5755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.