As a poor university student, Mr Teo Kee Meng (’79) took on a part-time job repairing home dialysis machines to make ends meet. Today, as Managing Director of high-tech healthcare company Transmedic, he is supporting his alma mater in training doctors by giving to the Khoo Teck Puat Advanced Surgery Training Centre (ASTC) at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Mr Teo studied Science at the University of Singapore, which was NUS’ predecessor institution.
“Touch one, touch many – that’s the magic of giving to education,” says Mr Teo, who comes from a humble hawker family; the first to attend university. “Education is the route by which people improve themselves, become financially self-reliant and connect with others. You teach one person and that person teaches another – the impact is multifold.”
ASTC lives true to this message, offering a high-tech training platform for doctors in Singapore and the region. They work with international institutions and on research programmes to develop new technologies for surgical training and clinical practice. Their state-of-the-art facilities include sophisticated surgical simulators to HDTV endolaparoscopic sets to neurosurgical operative microscope to robotic devices and more.
Giving to ASTC made perfect sense to Mr Teo both as a healthcare professional and as a proud alumnus. “ASTC is the only formal surgery training centre for minimally invasive surgery in ASEAN,” he says. “The University’s role is to advance knowledge, provide avenues for better training and platforms for exchange of ideas – all these are being done very well at ASTC. It is a really good investment.”
Private philanthropy can play an important role in improving quality of life by “kick-starting meaningful projects”, believes Mr Teo. The Khoo Teck Puat gift is a case in point as is the Goh Foundation’s support for the National Cancer Centre, he says. “This vision has the power to impact and improve many lives.”
Mr Teo has also given to various funds across the University, including the Annual Giving Fund, which supports bursaries. “I remember too well my student days when money was scarce. I was blessed to have found a well-paying part-time job but that may not be the case for some students,” he says. Despite having to work hard during University, he has much to be thankful for. His Science training encompassed all aspects of the scientific world, which stands him in good stead today; his Faculty and Dean, Dr Ang Kok Peng, were very understanding of his need to work; he had a great set of friends whose notes he borrowed and who helped him catch up on missed work; and he met his wife, Ho Gek Hua, a Faculty-mate, on campus.
“Education helps one to step out of poverty and I believe that God’s blessings have to be shared,” says Mr Teo. He knows. He lived it.
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