Yale-NUS: Staff and faculty’s gifts positively impact the Yale-NUS community

Senior Programme Manager (Career Services), CIPE, Alicia Chew. Image provided by Senior Manager Chew.


Senior Programme Manager (Career Services), CIPE, Alicia Chew. Image provided by Senior Manager Chew.

*All photos were taken before the implementation of COVID-19 safe management measures.

At Yale-NUS College, the community is made up of committed staff and faculty who not only dedicate their time to provide a good learning environment on campus but also give back as donors to positively impact the lives of our students.

For Senior Programme Manager, Centre for International and Professional Experience (CIPE), Alicia Chew, giving means more than just contributing money, it is also her way of showing that the Yale-NUS community cares.

As a member of the Career Services team in CIPE, Senior Manager Chew helps to provide career support for students on a daily basis by coordinating internships and organising professional skills workshops. Yet, as a first- generation student herself, she believes giving goes beyond one’s job scope and that financial aid could go a long way in supporting students in need. This spurred her to contribute towards the Yale-NUS College Financial Aid Fund. She said, “All students should have equal opportunities to receive the best possible College experience.”

The same mindset has encouraged her team at CIPE to give actively to the Faculty and Staff Giving campaign and the team has won the Team Giving Challenge for highest team giving participation in the last two years.

Head of Studies and Professor of Social Sciences (Urban Studies) Jane Margaret Jacobs with her students in London for LAB


Head of Studies and Professor of Social Sciences (Urban Studies) Jane Margaret Jacobs with her students in London for Learning Across Boundaries (LAB) back in 2019. Image provided by Prof Jacobs.

Similar to Senior Manager Chew, Head of Studies and Professor of Social Sciences (Urban Studies) Jane Margaret Jacobs is also a strong proponent of giving, and particularly believes in the importance of travel for experiential learning. By supporting the Yale-NUS College International Opportunities fund, Prof Jacobs hopes to encourage students to experience the world in all its differences and universalities. As a geographer, Prof Jacobs understands that some knowledge can only be gleaned through experiencing other cultures. Through travel and by putting oneself in a foreign position of ‘Otherness’, Prof Jacobs hopes students will not only learn about their destination, but also of themselves and the place they come from.

Prof Jacobs sees giving as a way to mould Yale-NUS into what it seeks to be. “This is a young institution that I have been a part of building. I want to give back to an institution that has shaped my life for the past decade,” she shared.

As for Visiting Professor of Social Sciences (Economics) Pareena Gupta Lawrence, giving is an extension of a larger mission of addressing issues of accessibility and inequality in higher education. As a developmental economist by training, most recently at Yale University specialising in women and development, Prof Lawrence is passionate about issues of agency and inequality. Throughout her academic career as a first-generation student and later a professor to students from diverse backgrounds, Prof Lawrence has seen many promising and capable students like herself turn down incredible experiences because they simply could not afford them.

“It is critical that we provide students with access to resources if we are serious about addressing issues of equity and access,” she said.

Visiting Professor of Social Sciences (Economics) Pareena Gupta Lawrence. Image provided by Prof Lawrence.


Visiting Professor of Social Sciences (Economics) Pareena Gupta Lawrence. Image provided by Prof Lawrence.

Hence, Prof Lawrence has remained committed to this cause and has donated to the Yale-NUS Student Programme Fund, to enhance student experiences at Yale-NUS College, including supporting various programmes and student organisations, which form an integral part of campus life at Yale-NUS.

Prof Lawrence sees giving as an investment in the future. “I see gifts irrespective of size as investing in a student’s and by default a nation’s (and the world’s) future. It goes towards building the hopes and aspirations of the next generation,” she added.

For Prof Lawrence, giving ought to transcend giving back just to one’s own community. Instead, giving ought to be universal – aimed at supporting an entire generation of students around the planet because the solutions for our planetary challenges will come from across the world. The diversity of the Yale-NUS student body, and the College’s unwavering commitment to support talented students across the globe, further convinced her to make a gift towards Yale-NUS.

Lecturer of Humanities, Dr Lee Chee Keng and Ms Wang Li Ping


Lecturer of Humanities, Dr Lee Chee Keng and Ms Wang Li Ping, a top TV drama writer in China who helped lead a segment of the Week 7 programme – Popular TV Media and the State in China. Image provided by Dr Lee.

Lecturer of Humanities (Theatre), Dr Lee Chee Keng concurred. “I don’t see giving to the College as just giving money. I see it more like chipping in and improving the College constantly.” Gifts of any size make a difference in enriching the small but vibrant college community. “Yale-NUS is such a tightly-knit community. Any positivity, no matter how small, ripples across the community and institution,” he said.

At Yale-NUS, there are many funds that support different causes, ranging from the Counselling Support fund for mental health resources to the Yale-NUS College International Scholarship Fund. Within an intimate community, a little goes a long way – be it bringing in a new face who would otherwise not be here, or on a greater scale – preserving a vibrant and intellectual campus culture.

“Knowing that my gift has contributed to someone’s growth and development, and that person will in turn contribute to the growth of others further down the road. It is an ’investment’ with continuous exponential growth.” Dr Lee reflected.

This story was first published on the Yale-NUS College Website.

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