Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Celebrates a Decade of Support for Students with Disabilities Pursuing Higher Education

SINGAPORE, 8 October 2014 – With their stellar academic performance and passion for learning, four young Singaporeans rose above their disabilities to receive the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities from Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information. The presentation ceremony was held this morning, marking the 10th year of this scholarship programme.

The APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities was launched in 2004 to recognise students with disabilities who have excelled not only in their studies, but who are also all-rounders who demonstrate strong leadership abilities in their community. The scholarship does not carry any bond and the awardees receive an annual allowance of $12,000 to cover course fees for the duration of their studies at any of the six recognised local universities.

To date, APB Foundation has committed over $1 million over the last 10 years to help 31 youths with varying disabilities in their university education, enabling them to reach their fullest potential.

“We recognise the importance of a good education and understand the uneven playing field that persons with disabilities may encounter. Through this scholarship we aim to build an inclusive society and help youths with disabilities fulfill their aspirations and contribute to society,” said Mr Roland Pirmez, Chairman of APB Foundation Board of Trustees and Advisory Committee, and President of HEINEKEN Asia Pacific. “We hope that their achievements will inspire other young people to realise their dreams too,” he added.

Among the scholarship recipients this year is 23-year-old Alwyn Keng. A swimming incident two years ago left him with a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis from the waist down. He now relies on a wheelchair to get around. Unable to move his fingers, Alwyn cannot write with his hands anymore. Instead, he labours over the computer keyboard to string sentences together one letter at a time. Despite all these, Alwyn found the courage to continue school and is now a freshman at the National University of Singapore (NUS) pursuing a degree in Business Administration.

“I am thankful for this scholarship as the confidence and faith that I have received from the scholarship panel as well as my family and friends have given me the courage to overcome what is ahead of me,” said Alwyn.

Lewina Tan, the first APB Foundation scholar who is studying for a university degree while working full-time, is no stranger to adversities. At birth, she was diagnosed with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that resulted in her abnormally short stature. In addition, the 26-year old also has genu valgus, a condition which causes both knees to touch one another, and conductive hearing loss. The path she took to university was an arduous one – from the Normal Technical to Normal Academic stream, to a higher National ITE Certificate in Information Technology (IT) and then IT at Singapore Polytechnic. She has been working as an IT support officer at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology since 2011.

“With the help of many people, I was able to get through school. I am grateful to APB Foundation for this scholarship as it helps to lighten the financial burden so that I can concentrate on doing well in my studies. I hope to motivate people who are undergoing difficult circumstances to continue trying and to never give up,” said the first-year Information and Communication Technology student at UniSIM.

Dickson Tan and Lisa Ong are the two other recipients this year. Born legally blind, 20-year-old Dickson was active in extra-curricular activities and made it to the Director’s List at Nanyang Polytechnic for four consecutive semesters from 2011 to 2013 with a near perfect GPA score of 3.92. He is a first-year Computer Science student at NUS. Despite her hearing impairment, Lisa developed a love for music and is an accomplished pianist and cellist. The 21-year old was also very active in extra-curriculum activities – the Guitar Ensemble at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School and Touch Rugby at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). A third-year student pursuing a degree in Accountancy at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, Lisa currently interns at PwC Singapore.

“Education is a key social leveler that gives people with disabilities higher chances of integrating successfully into mainstream society and getting gainfully employed. We thank APB Foundation for sharing our belief and for continuing to invest in the future of students with disabilities,” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director, SPD.