An evening of lively conversation, catching up with old friends, good food, speeches and jazz provided the setting for the Leadership Giving Appreciation Dinner held to thank National University of Singapore (NUS) donors, alumni champions and faculty and staff who raise funds tirelessly for the NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Campaign. The event was also an opportunity for guests to meet the students who have benefited from their selfless fundraising drives and benevolence.
The evening began with a speech by Professor Tan Eng Chye, Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost. He thanked the Alumni Student Advancement Committee (ASAC) whose unwavering belief in the value of an education is a key driver behind the NUS Alumni Bursary Fund Campaign.
ASAC is made up of four dynamic and passionate alumni fundraisers, Mr Johnny Tan (Science ’82), Mr Seah Cheng San (Engineering ’85), Mr Yeo Keng Joon (MBA ’85) and Mr Soh Yi Da (Arts and Social Sciences ’14). Their efforts, along with those of the Deans, Hall Masters and administrative staff, have resulted in close to S$13 million having been raised for the Campaign. This will translate into bursaries for up to 500 students in financial need every year.
Addressing all the donors, Prof Tan said, “Your generosity continues to spur us on to ensure that no student will ever be impeded in their NUS experience, just because of financial circumstances. Your generosity changes the lives of so many of our students. Our bursary students today will be the alumni fundraising champions of tomorrow. I am very grateful for the contribution that each of you has made to the Alumni Bursary Fund Campaign.”
He also encouraged other future fundraisers to come forward and to lend their support to the Campaign. “We look forward to continuing the good work with you, our dear donors and fundraising partners. I know that some of you have inspiration or the seed of an idea for a fundraising project. I would urge you to come forward with your idea; and please know that you will have our full support in realising your plan,” he shared.
Qinyu Goh, a fourth-year Real Estate student at the School of Design and Environment, and the recipient of the Building and Estate Management Alumni (BEMA) Bursary, shared her story. Qinyu faced great adversity and financial hardship at home as her mother was gravely ill for much of her childhood. She found her passion however in her studies and her family’s life changed for the better when she was awarded the Bursary.
“So dear donors, do you still remember the very moment when you decided to make a donation? Please know that that was the same moment that helped change our lives forever. I believe I speak for the recipients of the financial aid programmes here today when I say that we can never fully express in words just how grateful we are to have that lifeline extended to us, at a period of our lives when things might have seemed bleak and uncertain,” she explained.
Mr Yeo Keng Joon, a veteran fundraiser for NUS, recounted how he found his ‘second career’ as an alumni champion. Hailing from a humble family, his father passed away when Mr Yeo was six years old. His mother took on domestic work to support her three children. Mr Yeo’s education was funded by financial aid. When he and his wife decided to commemorate their son’s marriage by setting up a bursary, he had to find nine other donors within a short timeframe to meet the minimum bursary requirements. The rest is, as they say, history. Since then, Mr Yeo has been the driving force behind many fundraising initiatives such as the NUS Campus Couples Fund and the NUS Alumni – Wong Ah Long Bursary.
Mr Yeo urged any fellow alumni and friends of NUS not to be put off by the idea of running a fundraising campaign. He assured them that the time commitment is never as great as you expect; the joy of giving and the sense of gratitude when friends and colleagues lend their support are indescribable; and the experience strengthens friendship.