Mr David Chia Kai Wen ('21) from the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and recipient of Chen Su Lan Bursary, penned a letter of gratitude to the donors who have supported him.
"Hi everyone, my name is David. I hope that you are able to receive the heartfelt thanks not only from myself, but from every recipient of the scholarships, bursaries and various forms of financial aid only made possible through your giving.
I think in dire times like these, it helps us, more than ever, to count our blessings.
I am a Year 3 Political Science student at NUS. I come from a family of six and have three siblings. The environment my family provided was not the easiest place to grow up in. Neither of my parents completed any tertiary studies and they struggled to raise a young family. We were at risk of being evicted from our home at times, and we never had the money for tuition or enrichment classes. But I did not grow up embittered or feeling disadvantaged in any way because we had a lot of help from people like you, from relatives, and from our family. Far from feeling disadvantaged, I grew up witnessing kindness and grace in this world.
A story that really illustrates this was when I was in Junior College. I was a strong achiever who was in the Student Council and also a House Captain. I grew to love my studies and I pursued good results relentlessly. However, when I received my GCE ‘A’ Level results, I was in shock. I scored poorly for the examinations even though I had always been performing well. My teachers were very concerned.
I think the truth was, I was feeling completely lost. At the back of my mind, I knew that I was not going to be able to afford a university education without a scholarship.
I then applied for the discretionary admission programme at NUS. I managed to get in but did not think that I would be offered any scholarships. While serving National Service, I juggled giving tuition three times a week to save up for my education.
Never did I imagine that when I entered the University, there would be such an abundance of support. Not just for those students who excelled academically, but for anyone who was financially in need. I think bursaries are an act of grace, made possible by enormous generosity. I remember the first time I cashed in a cheque from the University, it felt like a huge load was taken off my shoulders. You may not know this, but year after year, students like me will be asking one another: “Hey, has your bursary arrived yet? Have you received the money?” Because for so many of us, this is the money we depend on for the whole year.
I hope you recognise that your gift is not just a number, but it is a lifeline for someone; someone like me.
Receiving this Bursary was like a breath of fresh air for me. It allowed me to not only continue with my studies, but also to devote my time to help other young people like me. It spurred me, it encouraged me, it allowed me to focus.
My appreciation is for you, and for the NUS community. I want to appreciate you for giving me and many other students the chance to shine. I managed to secure an excellent internship with a top company. I volunteer with my church’s youth ministry, reaching out to young people, organising events and outreach for the underprivileged.
This year, when COVID-19 hit, my parents were greatly affected again. My father is a taxi driver and my brother was very worried as he did not manage to get a scholarship this year. So we sat down as a family to discuss what our financial plans were for the next few months. I remember how great I felt to assure my brother that he did not have to worry. With the Bursary relieving my burden, I could use my savings to help him.
I hope that you see beyond the statistics. I want you to see my story and know the impact of your giving. It is more than you imagine.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each and every one of you. I wish you good health during these challenging times."
David Chia Kai Wen (Class of 2021)
NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Recipient of Chen Su Lan Bursary