Going the distance — Senior Class Gift committee member’s thousand kilometre running pledge

18 December 2020

By Liam Hoo Zhong Han

Phil Hie Guan Jie is a Senior from the Class of 2021, majoring in Global Affairs. Photo taken by Tan Shan Min.

Since 2017, the graduating classes of Yale-NUS College have contributed an annual Senior Class Gift (SCG) in celebration of their graduation. As a cohort-based giving initiative, the SCG nurtures the College’s culture of giving and encourages alumni to continue paying it forward, even as they move on to the next phase of their lives.

All proceeds to the SCG 2021 campaign will go towards the Yale-NUS College Financial Aid Fund to help students who require financial assistance in pursuing an education at Yale-NUS.

Senior, Elm Residential College Chair for the SCG committee and financial aid recipient, Phil Hie Guan Jie (Class of 2021) brings new excitement to an old tradition — Phil’s passion for giving has spurred him to make a thousand kilometre running pledge in support of SCG 2021.

For every kilometre that Phil runs, he intends to make a matching dollar-for-kilometre gift to the SCG, bringing his potential contribution to a total of a thousand dollars. Phil has completed 350 kilometres so far.

Photo taken by Tan Shan Min.

“I was inspired by Terry Fox, a Canadian cancer survivor who ran from East to West Canada with a prosthetic leg for more than 140 days, clocking a total of 5,000 kilometres. I absolutely loved this story and I wanted to do something similar,” Phil shared.

Such generous support is crucial in ensuring deserving students are able to enjoy a quality education without financial qualms, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges to colleges and economies across the world.

According to Phil, finding the time to clock the mileage was a challenge amidst the demands of a busy semester but he saw it as a way of practising self-discipline.

“When it is time to run, I run. The running gets a bit easier when I know that my efforts will result in a greater gift for the College community,” he added.

As the Elm College Chair for the SCG 2020 Committee, Phil hoped that his pledge would not only help Elm Residential College (RC) to secure the RC trophy for highest participation, but most importantly, encourage fellow senior ‘Elmighties’ to contribute towards the campaign.

As a recipient of the Yale-NUS Study Award, a College-provided grant for students who require financial aid to reduce the cost of tuition and residential living fees, Phil knew first-hand, the difference that giving could make in a student’s life and is grateful to be able to help more students through his pledge.

“I am extremely thankful that the Study Award has alleviated the financial burden on my family and allowed me to focus on my studies and pursue my interests. I am starting to give back gradually in my own capacity and I would like to continue this cycle of giving. It feels great when I give because I know that the funds are going towards financial aid, which will ensure more students can benefit from a good university education and experience,” he explained.

At Yale-NUS, giving remains one of our strongest traditions and has helped to provide necessary support to our students during difficult times. Phil, like many of his peers, was motivated to uphold the tradition and ignite the spirit of contributing back to the community.

“Giving has enabled so many students to study at Yale-NUS which is incredible because these students provide unique and diverse voices to the community. Students are also empowered to pursue their academic or personal interest without worrying about their finances,” he said.

Photo taken by Tan Shan Min.

“I believe that we are intrinsically altruistic and giving is second nature to us. We give to one another in different capacities and it is important that we continue doing that. The College has given us so much and it is time we do our part by giving back. No matter how big or small, every bit counts,” added Phil.

*If you would like to make a difference to someone’s life through the Senior Class Gift, you can do so by clicking here. Yale-NUS faculty and staff who would like to support Phil’s challenge by making a matching gift are welcome to contact Ms Jenany Nathan at jenany.n@yale-nus.edu.sg.