Published on 22 Jan 2022

‘Triggered’ to bridge inequality gap

Reading a book by an NTU professor prompted alumnus Jason Thian to find a way to ease the financial burden on needy students while they are in school.

Text: Jasmine Tiong and Suki Lor | Art direction: Don Tan | Photo: Mohamed Fadly

For alumnus Mr Jason Thian (NBS/ Class of 2010), a book by an NTU professor triggered him to establish a bursary at the University.

Mr Jason Thien with parents


Titled "This is What Inequality Looks Like" by Assoc Prof Teo You Yenn, Jason says he initially felt “perplexed and conflicted” after reading the book.

Assoc Prof Teo wrote: “We who have the power to make choices disproportionately shape outcomes and limit options for people who don’t have the power to make choices”.

“When those of us who have the means maximise our own children’s and our own families’ advantages, we are contributing to strengthening norms about achievement, success/failure, that undermine our fellow citizens’ wellbeing.”

The passage left a deep impression on Jason – deep enough for him to begin exploring ways that he could help others who are less fortunate.

He then decided to pledge S$150,000 to start a bursary at NTU named after his parents, Thian Tai Loke and Cheak Seok Noi.

The aim was to help needy students to bridge the inequality gap.

His bursary will assist NBS undergraduates with family members who are unwell and require long-term care. He hopes that providing such needy students with timely financial aid will give them more time and opportunities to participate in university activities that can beef up their resumes and help in their subsequent professional development.

"The book was the trigger that led me to establish the bursary. I really think it is a good reminder to everyone that we can do more and we are already very privileged,” says Jason.

"I believe that education is one of the best ways to break out of the poverty cycle. That is why I decided to give back to education,” he adds.

The 36-year-old financial consultant, who is married to his NBS classmate, says: “Now that we lead a relatively comfortable life, we hope to give opportunities to those who are less advantaged.”

The couple has two young children and hope to inspire more people to contribute and pay it forward. “Giving is important and should play a big part in our lives,” he says.

"The kindness of donors has supported me with my school allowance so I can work less and focus on my studies and spend more time with my family. The bursary also helped pay utility bills." - Mohamad Salihin Bin Mohamad Kassim, NTU Bursary beneficiary

Bursaries are awarded to financially disadvantaged full-time NTU undergraduates. This Bursary Fund is supported by students,  alumni and friends. If you would like to make a positive difference to help needy students, you can make a donation of any amount today.


This article first appeared in the first issue of U, the NTU alumni magazine.