Alumna Madam Gan Guat Ching (’74) was offered a helping hand at a difficult time in her life. Now she’s helping others.
More than 40 years ago, a young woman joined the University of Singapore, National University of Singapore’s (NUS) predecessor institution, thanks to a gift of S$300 that she received from a priest. It was a gift that was to reap a rich harvest.
The young woman, now a cheerful sexagenarian, not only went on to have a successful career as a civil servant and educator, she is helping to further many a young student’s dream by supporting bursaries and scholarships at her alma mater. The Gan Eng Teck and Maria Tan Ah Ho Bursary, named after the parents of Madam Gan Guat Ching, and the Gan Guat Ching Medical Scholarship have helped 17 NUS students so far.
And what of the priest, who had dug into his savings to help? He was Father Domingos Lam, who went on to become the first Chinese-born Bishop of the Diocese of Macau. As Madam Gan later learnt, Father Lam had been saving up to help his sister build a house.
Madam Gan says, “I never forgot his kindness. Later, when I started receiving the PSC Merit Bursary at the University of Singapore, I tried to return the money to him but he declined. Those gifts helped me through four years of tertiary education and I want to return to society the blessings I received.”
Liu Hao Quan Darren, a Third Year Chemical Engineering student, is receiving the Gan Eng Teck and Maria Tan Ah Ho Bursary. He says, “It has been very helpful. I can take care of my expenses and I can cut down on the hours I spend giving tuition to focus on my studies. I admire Madam Gan for her passion in helping others and aspire someday to be like her.”
Madam Gan graduated with an Honours degree in Economics. She talks animatedly of her time at the University of Singapore… of studying history with Prof Wong Lin Ken, who became the Minister of Home Affairs in 1970, participating in the Annual Float, field trips, Economics and Geography societies and the University Choir.
She says, “Education is a good avenue to lift people out of the vicious cycle of poverty. By making a gift to the University, you can help generations of students long after you are gone. It is a good legacy to leave behind. ”
She also wanted to commemorate her parents’ generous spirit. “They were always stepping up to look after widowed aunts and their children and family members in financial trouble. Every Sunday, they would invite elderly relatives over for lunch and dinner,” she reminisces.
She adds, “My parents inspired me and I hope to pass on that giving spirit. I have two hopes for the recipients of my gift: They should look after their parents and not forget the less fortunate.”
To know more about making a gift to NUS, please firstname.lastname@example.org