Alumni give back to support fellow students

25 June 2021

By Liam Hoo

As our alumni go on to make waves in different fields across the world, they continue to give back to the College by contributing generous gifts for future generations of students.

Started by the inaugural Class of 2017, the Alumni Giving Campaign has grown from strength to strength each year. In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and global uncertainty, a total of $13,727 was raised across three alumni classes.

For many alumni donors, giving comes intuitively and naturally out of love for the College community and the desire to pay it forward.

Ryan Yoong (Class of 2020) in blue, participating in a Catan competition during board games night at the Elm Buttery in 2018. Image provided by Ryan.

“I think the entire Yale-NUS experience was one of the best I’ve had in my life. Since I had such an enriching time, I figured, why not give a little to help others experience something like that too,” said Ryan Yoong (Class of 2020).

Agreeing with Ryan, Tinesh Indrarajah (Class of 2018) remarked that he also wanted to ensure that future generations of Yale-NUS students were able to appreciate the wonderful opportunities he had and “build meaningful relationships, learn from a variety of intellectual sources, and grow in important personal ways.”

Second from right, Tinesh Indrarajah (Class of 2018) participating in a badmintion match during the 2015 Inter-Residential College Games. Image provided by Tinesh.

“I give back with the hope that another person’s Yale-NUS journey could be as accessible as mine was for me,” he said.

Giving is also deeply personal for some of our alumni donors, who find great meaning in giving back to the community because of what they have received.

Lynn Lee (Class of 2017) in Denmark in December 2020. Image provided by Lynn.

For Lynn Lee (Class of 2017), giving back is a tangible way of expressing her gratitude for the opportunities she was given.

“I want to make giving a habit for myself, whether it is to the College or society in general. I find giving important because it serves as a reminder to myself of how much I have received—often undeservedly—from the generosity of others,” she added.

Similarly, Maline Bungum (Class of 2019) believes that she is able to gift her time, labour, money and experience as an alumna only because she “first received them from the many open-handed people who have poured into the various arenas of my life.”

First from right, Maline Bungum (Class of 2019) with her friends in Boston in 2018. Image provided by Maline.

“I was stoked to learn about the newly established Student Emergency Aid Fund this year. Experiencing financial difficulty in the midst of a family, personal, or emergency health crisis—not to mention during a school year—is a situation not too unfamiliar to me, and it was through the incredible practical and personal support of very many loved ones and strangers that my family’s story turned out to be one we can look back on with thanksgiving,” said the past recipient of the Saw Swee Hock Study Award.

“I hope that this fund will play a part in reducing the burden for current and future Yale-NUS students going through especially trying circumstances during which finances should be the last thing on their minds,” Maline added

For Tamara Burgos (Class of 2018), an alumna now living abroad, giving is a great way to strengthen and maintain her ties to the College community even after graduation.

Tamara Burgos (Class of 2018) believes giving to Yale-NUS helps her stay connected to the community. Image taken in 2019 and provided by Tamara.

“Giving is a great alternative I’ve found to stay connected to the Yale-NUS community and make a direct, significant contribution towards it,” she shared.

Beyond their individual gifts, our alumni donors also collectively expressed hopes to build a sustainable and caring culture of giving that would continue to buoy the aspirations of the College community. Among these, recognition of one’s privilege and paying-it-forward rank highly as aspects that alumni donors hope to cultivate in the college’s giving culture.

“The most enduring legacy we can support at Yale-NUS is the breadth of opportunities available to students. Contributing financially to ensure they remain accessible to everyone is extremely important,” Tamara said.

“My thoughts on a giving culture is centered on my feelings of gratitude for Yale-NUS in providing me ample learning opportunities in all facets of my life,” Tinesh added.

Rather than contributing out of an obligation, our alumni donors also believe giving should arise out of a sincere and meaningful desire.

“I think it’s important that folks give out of sincerity—not just because it’s ‘what everyone else is doing’ or that it’ll make you seem more ‘dedicated’. If it feels right, then go for it—if not, maybe wait a little and see what others who have given are saying about the experience.” Ryan said.

“Someone once said that you should “always leave a place better than when you found it”—I found the College in pretty great shape and I hope to do what I can to make it better,” he added.