Published on 12 Mar 2022

Giving and receiving the gift of education

School of Art, Design and Media student Marc Yap, who achieved commercial success with his NFT start-up, is supporting the inaugural NTU Giving Day. He tells us about his motivation while beneficiaries describe how various funds have supported them.

By Sadia Roohi

NTU Giving Day on 23 March will unite the OneNTU community to celebrate the impact of giving and support critical causes of the University. Every gift made towards the NTU Bursary Fund, NTU Priorities Fund, NTU Sustainability Fund and School Advancement Funds will make a big difference.

Marc YapADM student Marc Yap who is the Art Director at Dark Zodiac, learnt from his parents that giving back is a must, should one succeed in life. He will be making a generous donation towards the ADM School Advancement Fund.

Final year School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) student Marc Yap, who is also the Art Director at his start-up Dark Zodiac, learnt from his parents that giving back is a must, should one succeed in life. Dark Zodiac is a non-fungible token (NFT) collectible project inspired by the 12 Chinese zodiac folklore. In November last year, his team made nearly S$1.4 million in cryptocurrency just one hour after the launch of their digital trading cards.

Marc will be making a generous donation towards the ADM School Advancement Fund in support of NTU Giving Day. 

“My time in ADM was actually the best time of my education journey. When I was 16, I already knew that Art-Design was my calling. In my four years at ADM, I woke up happy every day, knowing that I am pursuing my dreams,” he explained of his motivation to give to his School.

Marc added: “ADM provided a very coherent and supportive curriculum for us craftsmen to choose our pathways and absorb different aspects of Design and Art. I truly believe this is the way to go. It has allowed me to be the craftsman I am today.”

He believes that with the advance of NFTs, cryptocurrencies and the metaverse, Art and Media will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the future. “If there’s anything that has been constant in our daily lives, it is the improvement of technology. It is imperative that education keeps up with the current times, and ADM has the capability to do so. I have walked the path as an undergrad and I would say that ADM provides the necessary facilities and utilities to its students to stay at the forefront of technological progress,” said Marc.

When he was a teen, Marc’s secondary school provided financial assistance to underprivileged students, some of whom have become very successful today. Seeing how some bright individuals are in dire need of financial help, he was further motivated to give back. “Some of them are brilliant, smart and talented, but they aren’t given the best hand in life. That does not mean that they cannot break their mould…all they need is an opportunity. A little help and support could be absolutely life changing for them,” he explained.

When asked what advice he would like to give to current students and alumni in the Art and Design field given his recent success with the NFTs, Marc emphasised that they must adapt and stay relevant. 

“During the boom of the NFTs in early 2021, I was always constantly updating myself about how the industry was moving and how Art shaped and moved the landscape. Another area which was relevant and constantly shifting was Technology. Technologies for crypto were also moving rapidly with blockchain technologies and smart contract development was quickly advancing. Staying relevant with an industry outside of your own is very important. A lot of new developments will continue to be on the rise in the digital space and one must be ready with relevant knowledge and skills to adapt and take up the challenge.” 

Receiving the gift of education

One of the funds NTU Giving Day will support is the NTU Priorities Fund established in April 2020. Driven by private philanthropy, the NTU Priorities Fund addresses urgent needs identified by the University’s leadership and its first use was to offer financial assistance to the neediest NTU students from Singapore and abroad, who were affected by COVID-19 and who have no other recourse for help.

Fang Jan FattThe NTU Priorities Fund provided much needed financial assistance to Jan Fatt who is now giving back to support other NTU students.

Alumnus Fang Jan Fatt, who graduated with an Accountancy degree last year, was one of the beneficiaries of the NTU Priorities Fund. He described how the Fund helped him through some of his immediate financial difficulties caused by the pandemic, coming from a family dependent on only his single mother’s income. 

“The NTU Priorities Fund helped many students from less privileged families overcome financial difficulties especially during the peak of the pandemic. It also demonstrates the University’s generosity and readiness to aid students in aspects of life outside of education,” said Jan Fatt.

He believes in the importance of supporting NTU causes as doing so will help create a cycle of giving and receiving, which will eventually benefit more students in the future. Jan Fatt has already started donating to the NTU Priorities Fund and NTU Bursary Fund and aims to continue doing so more regularly.

Currently on a two-year Graduate Talent Programme at UBS, a global investment bank, Jan hopes to see more of his peers contributing during NTU Giving Day. “It does not take much effort to donate as you can do so with just a few clicks online. No matter the amount, it will make a difference,” he said.

Final-year School of Humanities student Handayani Indah Bte Hassan (Indah) survived some tough circumstances growing up. Her father, the sole breadwinner, lost his job during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. To make ends meet, the family moved to Johor Bahru, renting out their HDB flat in Singapore. Her father, a taxi-driver, worked every day to support the family. However, when he was diagnosed with colon cancer, the family moved back to Singapore before he passed on. Indah’s mother took over the taxi and the breadwinning responsibility. 

IndahFinal-year School of Humanities student, Indah, who received financial assistance from the NTU Bursary Fund, will be singing a song during NTU Giving Day.

At NTU, Indah’s grades suffered when she had to take on part-time jobs. She applied to receive financial assistance through the NTU Bursary Fund which greatly reduced her financial difficulties. With the security of a bursary, Indah was able to enjoy the full experience of student life.

In 2020, Indah’s mother was diagnosed with lymphoma. But Indah and her siblings are keeping their chins up and working through their struggles. She recently released her first single on Spotify and is looking forward to performing at NTU's upcoming Giving Day. 

Join the OneNTU community at the inaugural NTU Giving Day on 23 March. 

Register for the live-streamed opening ceremony from 10am to 11.30am with Guest-of-Honour Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad, followed by a panel discussion “Impactful Giving: Your Gift in Action” where NTU Bursary recipients will describe the positive effect philanthropy has made in their lives.

During the 12-hour online fundraising event, you can look forward to appearances by Stefanie Sun and Liang Wern Fook, and enjoy performances by many other talents who have pledged their support for our underprivileged students and critical needs of the University.