For Mr Darren Tan Kim Poh (’97), going to school was not just about receiving an academic education. During the years he attended the Delta Circus Primary School (DCPS), Raffles Institution (RI), Saint Andrew’s Junior College (SAJC), and the National University of Singapore (NUS), he was on a heart-warming journey of extraordinary learning, character-building, and soul-nurturing.
To reciprocate, he made a bequest – naming all his alma maters (except DCPS, which regrettably, has been defunct since 1992) beneficiaries of his CPF, insurance payouts and cash.
Legacy giving is a good way of planning one’s estate so as to make an impact that can be felt for generations and allows donors such as Mr Tan to support causes close to their hearts. Each bequest, large or small, has its own story, and Mr Tan’s story is a simple one of appreciation and gratitude.
“I have fond memories of my years spent at school. My alma maters have all been instrumental in moulding my heart and soul beyond the academic aspects. Therefore, as a gesture of gratitude, I am pleased to make a legacy gift to NUS,” says Mr Tan, who grew up in a humble family.
Mr Tan’s father was an odd-job labourer while his mother was a housewife.The family struggled to make ends meet during his and his sister’s schooling years. Bursaries he received from primary to tertiary levels took him through the difficult times. He now empathises with less well-off students encountering similar challenges and is particularly enthusiastic about giving towards bursaries.
“I can relate to the struggles that some bursary recipients may experience. Just like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar -if anyone tries to cut open the cocoon with the intent of freeing the struggling butterfly, it will result in underdeveloped wings that will never fly. The struggle to emerge makes the butterfly strong. The butterfly then rests for a few hours before soaring with the fully-developed wings. So, my advice to them is to look at the positive side of the struggles they may encounter and appreciate how adversity makes them stronger,” Mr Tan advises.
The Business Administration alumnus believes very much in the importance of education and its holistic influence on one’s values and character.
“I believe the fundamental outcomes of education can be succinctly summarised with the following Chinese idiom 品学兼优, that is, equally excellent in both character and learning ability. The values and competencies which are acquired during education provide “tools in a menu” for a person to achieve his or her goals in life, which can include transcending career and financial goals by contributing to the extended family and larger community,” he explains.
To Mr Tan, well-known community leader and businessman Mr Lee Kong Chian is the paragon of philanthropy, and like him, Mr Tan is mindful of one’s duty in giving back to society. He hopes to encourage fellow alumni to give back or even consider making bequests as well.
“Yesterday is the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present. The future – generations of NUS students – cannot change their past, but your present can make a difference to their future,” he adds.
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