Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholars Lauded for Resilience in Overcoming Challenges

SINGAPORE, 14 October 2015 – Achieving academic excellence over and above facing challenges from disabling conditions and having to deal with bullying, taunting and even a life threatening situation were what made three young Singaporeans stand out among others to be awarded the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities.

Bryan Chong, Shalom Lim and Josiah Ong received their awards from Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education and Mayor, South West District, and Guest-of-Honour for the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities Award Presentation Ceremony. The event was held this morning at the SPD Ability Centre.

The APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities, now in its eleventh year, supports students with varying disabilities including physical and sensory disabilities as well as speech impairment, who excel not only in their studies, but who are also all-rounders who demonstrate strong leadership abilities in their community. APB Foundation Scholars each receive an annual allowance of $12,000 to cover course fees for the duration of their studies at any of six recognised local universities. Although the Scholarship is bond-free, Scholars are encouraged to contribute to the social service sector in one way or another after they graduate.

22-year-old Bryan was often a victim of bullying in both his primary and secondary schools as he was the only student with profound hearing loss in his class. When an intervention from his school did not help, Bryan conquered his introverted personality and began initiating conversations with his classmates, winning their understanding and consequently, putting a stop to the bullying. Undeterred by his disability and with his newfound confidence, Bryan went on to pursue a diploma in Psychology Studies and managed to attain an impressive GPA score of 3.71. Now a second-year student pursuing a degree in Psychology at the Nanyang Technological University, Bryan hopes to contribute back to society by advocating for persons with disabilities and disadvantaged children through talks and volunteering activities. “I am honoured to receive the APB Foundation Scholarship and hope to be a motivation to people who are undergoing difficult circumstances and to help them find the courage to overcome their obstacles and achieve their potential,” said Bryan.

Growing up was no mean feat for 22-year-old Josiah as people would often stare and mimic his behaviour, or whisper among themselves. He experiences involuntary movements or tics due to Tourette’s Syndrome and was also no stranger to bullying in school. His teachers would sometimes think that he was cheating whenever he twitched while sitting for his tests and examinations. This caused Josiah to feel inferior among his peers. However, with the strong support of his close friends and family, Josiah’s self-confidence and belief improved and he has since excelled in many areas including achieving a top 10% placing in his cohort for General Paper, and being selected to be a youth translator for German-speaking athletes at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games. The second-year Business Administration undergraduate at the National University of Singapore hopes to excel in a fast-moving consumer goods company after graduation to give his parents a comfortable retirement, and also to raise more awareness on and inspire others with Tourette’s Syndrome.

Shalom Lim was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at four months old. Due to the muscle degenerating nature of his condition, Shalom requires assistance in all activities of daily living and uses a motorised wheelchair for mobility. Despite his condition, Shalom was already using his talent in contemporary Chinese painting at 12 years old to help raise funds for an organisation serving people with muscular dystrophy. Shalom had a health scare in Secondary Four when he almost lost his life after choking on his phlegm due to a severe bout of pneumonia. Subsequently hospitalised for nine days and fully recovering only two months later, Shalom managed to score well in his GCE ‘O’ Levels with help from his teachers and friends. Shalom is now a first-year student pursuing a degree in Criminology and Security at the Singapore Institute of Technology. Determined to live life to the fullest, he says, “I’m honoured to have received this scholarship. I hope to be a teacher so as to impart knowledge in the area of my expertise, as well as to contribute actively towards supporting the disabled community.”

“We believe that every young person deserves the opportunity of a good education, which would ultimately pave the way for excellence in life. Through this Scholarship, we aim to level the playing field for youths with disabilities, provide a path for them to become future leaders and inspire others in society,” said Mr Mark Campbell, Regional Corporate Relations Director of HEINEKEN Asia Pacific. “Every young person has the right to realise their dreams and we at APB Foundation are happy to help make their dreams a reality,” he added. The APB Foundation has supported 34 scholars, including Bryan, Shalom and Josiah, since the APB Foundation Scholarship was first awarded in 2004.

“We are proud partners of APB Foundation and applaud them for continuing to believe and invest in unlocking the potentials of students with disabilities, and providing them with a platform for success. We hope that through this partnership, our society will become more understanding and accepting of differing abilities and diversity in our community, thereby creating an inclusive environment for people with disabilities,” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director, SPD.