National University of Singapore (NUS) alumnus and Mayor of the North West District Dr Teo Ho Pin (’85) quotes the Singapore Life Saving Society’s motto as his inspiration to help others in need. Dr Teo, who is a trained lifesaver and the President of NUS’ Building and Estate Management Alumni (BEMA), recently rallied his fellow alumni to establish the BEMA Bursary to help needy students at NUS’ Department of Building and Department of Real Estate.
“Lifesaving has always been my inspiration to help others. In lifesaving, we have this spirit of helping others in distress. I am just applying this to land. I feel that if it is within our means, we should try our best to help others in need,” Dr Teo says.
Dr Teo attained his lifesaving qualification certificate during his pre-university days when he was a cadet inspector, and has been interested in lifesaving ever since. He went on to start the University Lifeguard Corps at NUS with three of his friends when he was studying at the University, and describes the times he spent training lifesavers at the NUS swimming pool as most memorable.
Dr Teo and BEMA contribute regularly to various fundraising activities. Since he took over as President of BEMA in 1999, Dr Teo has organised annual fundraising golf events to raise funds for financially disadvantaged students. Since 2005, BEMA, who also has an ongoing BEMA financial assistance scheme, has helped eight students from the Department of Building and Department of Real Estate.
Second Year student Alvin Loke, one of the students who received help from BEMA at a very difficult point in his life, says, “I was completely surprised by how much people cared. I used to think this was a dog-eat-dog world. But now I believe the world is not such a cruel place after all.”
Dr Teo also shares how his mother inspired him to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. He says, “My mother has always helped people in need – the handicapped, people with Down Syndrome and others. I was used to strangers living in the house. This has influenced me to do good to help others. The more people I help, the more meaningful it is. This is something I want to inspire, where people do things not for their own benefit, but for others’.”
So what are Dr Teo’s hopes for the recipients of the BEMA Bursary?
“I hope that students will have a sense of gratitude so that they will be able to do good for the community and society in the future. Those who have benefitted should think about benefitting others in years to come when they are in a better position. This is the kind of spirit I am trying to encourage,” Dr Teo says.
Besides establishing the BEMA Bursary, BEMA has also given to various causes at NUS, including setting up book prizes at the Department of Building and Department of Real Estate, as well as giving to University Town.
The BEMA Bursary is an initiative under the newly formed NUS Alumni Bursary Fund, an alumni-for-students undertaking led by NUS alumni that provides financial support to financially disadvantaged students.
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