A Seed of Hope for Students in Need
6 April 2020
The champions of the NBS Equal Opportunity Fund — Ms Carolyn Choo (1st from left), Mr Henry Tan (1st from right) and Mr Danny Yong (2nd from right).
It can often be easy to take for granted the wealth of opportunities accessible to many of us on a regular basis. For some, however, opportunities that are available to their peers may happen to lie just beyond their reach. Such is the reality for financially-disadvantaged students hoping to further their learning journey through platforms such as overseas exchanges and internships.
An integral part of the student journey, these programmes offer NTU undergraduates real-world exposure to a spectrum of industries and experiences that lends them the edge to succeed in the new, globalised economy. Overseas exchanges and internships also have positive effects on the personal development of students and leave an indelible mark on their lives — many alumni are likely to recall fond memories of their own experiences and count these as milestones in their varsity days.
However, the truth of the matter is that one in five students is unable to take advantage of these opportunities due to his or her financial circumstances.
Rallying to provide equal opportunities for such undergraduates, three accomplished alumni of Nanyang Business School (NBS) contributed to the founding of a fund that is set to give students from underprivileged backgrounds access to life-shaping overseas exchanges and internships.
Launched on 24 April 2019, the NBS Equal Opportunity Fund is an initiative by the NBS Alumni Advisory Board that was made possible thanks to a collective donation of $250,000 by NBS alumni Mr Danny Yong, CIO & Founding Partner, Dymon Asia Capital; Ms Carolyn Choo, Managing Director, Worldwide Hotels Pte Ltd; and Mr Henry Tan, Group CEO & Chief Innovation Officer, Nexia TS.
Mr Henry Tan, who is the acting Chairman of the NBS Alumni Advisory Board, recalls learning at a meeting with the school that a segment of students was unable to afford the monetary expense of an overseas exchange. Soon after, he reached out to his fellow alumni with a bead drawn on making a change.
"I decided to share the idea of the Equal Opportunity Fund with our advisory board and also spoke to Danny and Carolyn to seed fund this," he said. "We believe that all students should have equal opportunities," added Mr Tan with conviction.
Awards from the Fund will support NBS students' overseas exchanges or internships, as well as their participation in international case competitions and community projects. Made possible due to the initial seed donations by each of the three alumni, the Fund has grown to $311,506.20 in total since its inception, thanks to the generous contributions of numerous donors.
For Mr Danny Yong, it was simply the right thing to do. "Giving back is the right thing to do, given the good fortune I have had in my career with the opportunities that have come my way," he shared. "Going overseas broadens one's mindset and experience, adding to one's confidence. By setting up a Fund to provide opportunities for overseas exchange and internship programmes for students, I hope that students can further develop their self-awareness, and work on their overall personal development."
Mr Tan and Mr Yong both cited their own treasured experiences from university days as reasons they felt so strongly compelled to give back to the NTU community.
"Personally, I have fond memories of my formative years spent at NTU, having forged lifelong friendships and partnerships in school, especially that with my classmate and co-founder of Dymon Asia, Keith Tan," Mr Yong reminisced. "My time at NBS taught me to stay curious and hungry for knowledge so that I never stop learning."
"We benefitted from the education and experience in school, and we should do our bit for the cohorts that come after us," echoed Mr Tan. "Personally, I was a scholarship recipient in university and found the support extremely useful."
Each year, the Fund aims to support up to 37 students in need of financial assistance. The Fund has already benefitted its first beneficiary, supporting NBS student Mr Tan Wei Lun’s dream of embarking on an overseas internship experience. Wei Lun, who is in his second year of study pursuing a Double Degree in Business and Computer Science, expressed his deep gratitude.
"I would like to say a big thank you to NBS for providing the generous financial aid in my overseas internship with the Thales Group, via the NBS Equal Opportunity Fund. Living in Paris is certainly stressful with the high cost of living. This is why I am truly grateful for the school's help and support in making this whole experience possible," said Wei Lun.
Speaking to his fellow students, he further shared, "The Equal Opportunity Fund is just one example of the aid NBS provides to encourage our pursuit of an overseas work experience. I can't emphasise enough how fortunate we are to have access to resources that support us in school and beyond."