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Feb 15, 2022
The dentistry community came together to raise funds for a bursary in honour of Emeritus Professor Chew Chong Lin
A new NUS bursary set up amid the pandemic will put gleaming smiles on aspiring dentists’ faces. The Chew Chong Lin Dental Bursary will provide financial aid to dentistry undergraduates, and solve their teething problems in their journey to become full-fledged dentists.
The altruistic idea for the Bursary was inspired by Emeritus Professor Chew Chong Lin, and initiated by Associate Professor Jennifer Neo. Both are professors and alumni of the NUS Faculty of Dentistry.
“Prof Chew wanted to raise funds for the undergraduate students. They make up the foundation of the dentists in our nation, as we are the only dental school in Singapore. The tuition fees for dentistry, currently at S$29,300 per annum, is the same as for the medical faculty and is the highest of all the courses at NUS,” shared Prof Neo.
“It would be great to assist financially strapped students who have to contend with this burden whilst undergoing their studies in the dental course. Prof Chew himself came from a family who had to come together to pool their savings to send him to dental school,” she continued.
Armed with a big heart, a can-do spirit and a contact list, Prof Neo reached out to over 150 alumni and friends, who jointly contributed over S$800,000 to date.
“I personally called up 95 per cent of the contacts I had on my mobile and their response for Prof Chew was overwhelming. Big or small, the gifts were a testimony to the respect for him. The bulk of the gifts came from his former dental students, overseas dentists, medical colleagues and personal friends,” revealed the dental academic, who has fond memories working alongside Prof Chew at the Faculty.
Prof Chew is regarded as the doyen of dentistry in Singapore. An educator, practitioner and public servant, he has made indelible contributions over 45 years — from teaching students in classrooms to treating patients in clinics, and from conducting impactful research to formulating public policies.
His outstanding leadership did not go unnoticed and he went on to assume senior appointments in the various divisions within the Ministry of Health, such as Deputy Director of Medical Services (Dental), President of the Singapore Dental Council (2009-2021), and Chair of the Planning Committee, to oversee the setup of the National Dental Centre (1989 -1995).
Prof Chew’s illustrious career has come full circle at NUS. He trained to be a dentist and graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery at the then University of Singapore, which later became NUS. Subsequently, he returned to mentor dentistry students and took on several key appointments at the University, including Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry. Today, Prof Chew has a student bursary named in his honour at the Faculty where it all began.
“Never in my dreams did I expect a bursary to be set up in my honour. I am humbled by their very generous gesture and am overwhelmed by the amount they have raised to establish this Bursary. I am very grateful. It is comforting to know that we have successful and caring dental professionals,” shared Prof Chew, expressing his gratitude towards fellow faculty members, alumni and friends who have contributed to the Bursary.
He is proud of his former students who fly the Faculty’s flag high — not only with their achievements, but also their kind acts, such as providing free dental services for the less fortunate.
Heartened by their spirit of giving, Prof Chew’s wish is to see the Bursary’s ripple effects turn into a “Pay It Forward” movement.
“This Bursary was established to provide help to students who need financial assistance. I am happy that this Bursary is set up as an endowed fund, so that more students will benefit from this fund annually, which will help them to successfully complete their training. When they start their practice, I hope they will generously contribute to the financial need of future students and remember our alma mater,” Prof Chew said.
The Faculty of Dentistry continues to accept gifts to the Chew Chong Lin Dental Bursary. Make your gift online today.
Keep up with what’s going on around campus. Every day brings new possibilities to discover, experience and learn what makes us unique. Here are some of the upcoming events to promote leadership in philanthropy and raise awareness of this impact happening across NUS and the community.