Campus couples give back to alma mater

SINGAPORE - Lovers of the Ridge can now relive their days of campus romance by donating to their alma mater.

The National University of Singapore, whose main campus is at Kent Ridge, is appealing to alumni who found their spouses on campus to do their part by providing bursaries for needy students.

Mr Yeo Keng Joon and Ms Kong Yuet Peng, who studied at the university's Bukit Timah campus in the 1980s, have already heeded the call.

The couple of 39 years has given $25,000 to set up a bursary for needy NUS undergraduates.

"To be able to get to where we are, we owe it to the university for giving us a tertiary education," said Mr Yeo, 63, who runs an aquaculture business. His wife, 65, is an adjunct lecturer.

They are among those who have donated a total of $107,000 to the NUS Campus Couples Bursary Fund since this was started two months ago.

This is part of a larger alumni bursary fund campaign started last July and led by the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS), the varsity's largest alumni body.

"We hope that 40 couples will come forward this year," said Mr Johnny Tan, chairman of the NUS alumni student advancement committee, which is looking into the fund-raising efforts.

NUSS, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, has more than 15,000 members, many of whom are in their 40s and 50s. It will officially reopen its new guild house at Suntec City Tower 5 next Friday.

Alumni can also set up bursaries named after their late parents. In addition, NUSS has pledged up to $250,000 per year to the alumni bursary fund, which may also house bursary funds from other alumni groups.

"We want to unite the alumni community here and reach out to younger graduates," said NUSS president David Ho.

"It's a challenge trying to get younger members, as many don't feel a sense of belonging to the school. We want to pass down this tradition of strong alumni support to the younger generation."

Mr Yeo and his wife, who studied at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and later NUS, cherished memories of their university days.

"We were very 'rah rah' (enthusiastic) students, active in sports and hall activities. She played badminton, I played basketball and volleyball," he said of their time at the university in Malaysia.

They moved to Singapore later after taking a Master of Business Administration course at NUS.

Both are Singapore permanent residents now and have a son and daughter in their 30s and two grandchildren.

"We decided to name the bursary after our children - Suan Yeo - as they are the result of our union," said Mr Yeo.

He said the bursary was about giving back.

"We're blessed with a blissful marriage and career. We should give back to help needy students so they don't miss out on education," he said.

ateng@sph.com.sg

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