The year was 1963. He sat behind her in Lecture Theatre 1 in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Bukit Timah campus for their very first lecture. They were both studying Zoology at what was then the University of Singapore (NUS’ predecessor institution), she the daughter of a clerk, and he, the son of a missionary. Both of them were receiving bursaries.
Forty-eight years later, Mr and Mrs Ewing-Chow have set up a bursary at the Faculty of Science to help students who are facing challenges similar to the ones they had once faced. The John & Lydia Ewing-Chow Bursary will be awarded to Life Science students over approximately the next 10 years. In the Academic Year 2011/2012, five students will be benefiting from their gift.
The John & Lydia Ewing-Chow Bursary gift will also attract the *matching government grant, which will be channelled to the Science Student Overseas Exposure Fund (SSOEF), enabling more students who are financially strapped to take advantage of the many overseas opportunities that NUS offers.
“The bursary I received gave me the opportunity to study at university and if I can give someone else the same, I will be very happy,” says Mrs Ewing-Chow, a retired biology teacher. “Our families were poor then. My brother and I were entering university at the same time and my father could only afford to send one – the son. I wanted so much to go to university, so my father saved for my education by carrying a packed lunch to work instead of eating out. I am very grateful to my late father as well as for the bursary, which helped pay for my fees and pulled me though.”
Mrs Ewing-Chow went on to win the Fulbright Scholarship to study at Columbia University, US, graduating with a Masters degree in Education.
During his university days, Mr Ewing-Chow supplemented his bursary money by stacking books every night at the university library, which enabled him to contribute to his family’s monthly expenses. After graduation, he started working as a school teacher and then went on to be Acting Zoo Director and Director of the Civil Service Institute before joining the private sector. He retired as Vice-President, Training, OCBC Bank. While at the Civil Service Institute, he was awarded the Colombo Plan Scholarship to study for a Masters in Administration at Monash University, Australia. “We were both doubly blessed,” says Mr Ewing-Chow. “The bursaries helped us to go to university and that led to other opportunities.”
The Ewing-Chows recently visited the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) and the laboratories at the Kent Ridge campus. “As students, we used to sit side by side in the lab in the Bukit Timah campus and we were looking forward to reliving those memories,” says Mr Ewing-Chow. “But what we saw was a different world. We were astounded by the curriculum, the equipment and the vision of the Department. We came away feeling very excited by the future as painted to us by Head of DBS, Professor Paul Matsudaira. We feel confident that the bursary will nurture students who will make a contribution to society.”
In talking about their life, Mr and Mrs Ewing Chow say, “Looking back to where we came from, we are thankful and very happy to be able to give to NUS.”
*All eligible gifts to NUS attract the prevailing 1:1 matching government grant and endowed gifts for undergraduate studies receive the enhanced 1.5:1 matching.
For more information on making a gift to NUS, please call Ms Ho Yuen Kwan at 6516 5755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org