By Sadia Roohi
Ng Tze Kean, a second-year student at NTU School of Computer Science and Engineering, is busy with school work and is also involved in co-curricular activities and outreach events organised by the School during term time. Outside of school, he gives tuition lessons to five students and helps out in the School’s activities to earn some pocket money through NTU’s work-study scheme.
The courteous young man does not have the luxury of going for overseas holidays. His hands are tied because of the financial circumstances at home. With both parents unemployed at the moment and a younger sister pursing her studies at Nanyang Business School, the elder brother is tasked with providing for the family.
Siblings Ng Tze Kean (left) and Ng Sin Ru (right) received bursaries to help them overcome financial hurdles and pursue their academic and personal goals.
“The passing of my grandmother in 2018, coupled with the immense pressure my father faced at work, has negatively affected his mental state, so he stopped working. My mother also lost her job during the pandemic but is now seeking part-time employment on top of her volunteering stints. Admittedly, the start of the pandemic was a tough period for our family as my sister and I just began our university studies, and our family had little savings, so we needed to plan our finances carefully,” said 23-year-old Tze Kean.
Help came to the pair of siblings in the form of student bursaries. Tze Kean received the Higher Education Community Bursary while his sister, Ng Sin Ru, 21 years old, received the NTU Bursary and Higher Education Community Bursary to cover their tuition fees. The NTU Bursary is funded by donations from NTU alumni, faculty and staff, students and their parents as well as well-wishers.
The bursary programmes provided them with financial relief and freed up their time to focus on studying. Tze Kean is currently doing a local exchange programme at another university. “Without this bursary, I would be swamped with other commitments to ensure that my family has sufficient financial capabilities to tide over the next month. A lot of stress and pressure has been alleviated. I am able to embark on other exciting opportunities such as working in a start-up to gain some experience during school term, and I am enrolled in NTU's Undergraduate Research Experience on Campus (URECA) programme," Tze Kean said.
As for Sin Ru, the bursary has helped relieve her of financial worry. “I am able to do considerably well in my studies, and recently I received an internship opportunity to work at a major accounting firm which I am very much looking forward to. It is better for me to take on internship roles to build my resume instead of doing multiple part-time jobs,” she explained.
Against all the odds, Sin Ru and Tze Kean are determined to see through their university education and pursue their dream jobs after graduation. Tze Kean’s ambition is to develop accessible AI technologies to enhance learning and make education accessible to everyone, while Sin Ru, who has an interest in fraud investigation, aspires to work as an auditor in one of the Big Four accounting companies.
Tze Kean (seated, 2nd from right) participates in the School’s outreach events which provide him with event management experience and remuneration through the work-study scheme.
To alleviate the financial burden on their family, the Ng siblings manage their expenses wisely and made lifestyle changes, such as using second-hand clothing and tapping food bank distribution.
Paying it forward
Ms Lien Siaou-Sze, Vice President for University Advancement at NTU, said: “A bursary provides a transformative opportunity to students facing financial challenges. Beyond financial assistance, it instils confidence and hope, and inspires them to pursue their dreams with passion and determination.”
In addition to their personal ambitions, both Tze Kean and Sin Ru share a common goal of giving back to the community. Tze Kean urges students to recognise the impact of giving to benefit another person.
“Many a time, we may throw away our possession without a second thought. We do not stop to consider if someone else could benefit from our simple act of donating an item. Similarly, any amount, no matter how small it is to you, can make a world of a difference to someone in need. The collective efforts of many can change lives,” said Tze Kean.
Thanking donors who contributed to the NTU Bursary Fund, Sin Ru said: “Your donation means a lot to us, and our educational ambitions would not be possible without your support. We will keep persevering to reach our goals. One day when we succeed, we aspire to be donors to aid others in need.”
The NTU Giving Day is happening on 23 March 2023 to raise funds for NTU Bursary Fund, NTU Priorities Fund, NTU Sustainability Fund, NTU Wellbeing Fund and School Advancement Funds through a live concert and donation challenges. Consider making a gift towards education online.