Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Scholars with Disabilities Excel Beyond Academics, Aspire to Impact Society

SINGAPORE, 22 September 2016 – Even as many students struggle to find balance between their academic responsibilities and co-curricular activities, the three recipients of this year’s Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities excelled in both while overcoming conditions that would have discouraged many.

The trio with ‘invisible’ disabilities, or disabilities that are not apparent, Sarah Lim, Joshua Ong and Teo Zi Lin, received their awards from Guest-of-Honour Mr Ang Wei Neng, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC, at the APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities Award Presentation Ceremony held at the Enabling Village this morning.

The scholarship programme is managed by SPD, an organisation that supports people with disabilities. The scholarships are awarded to students with disabilities who have excelled in their studies and demonstrated strong leadership abilities in their community. Each scholar receives an annual allowance of $12,000 in the bond-free scholarship to cover course fees for the duration of his/her studies at any of six recognised local universities. From this year, the Foundation will also be extending additional financial assistance to its scholars facing financial hardships. Under the new Special Assistance Fund, eligible scholarship recipients will receive $3,000 annually in addition to their scholarship money.

Zi Lin, who has hearing impairment and speech impediment, is one of the scholarship recipients this year. Despite the nature of her disabilities, she signed up for film and media studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic and excelled in her course. Besides getting on the Director’s List in the first two years of her diploma studies and bagging numerous awards such as the Mediacorp Gold Medal & Prize, the Batey Ads Prize and the Singapore Press Holdings Prize, the 20-year-old completed her polytechnic studies with a valedictorian speech that drew overwhelming applause and cheers on graduation day.

“I hope to be a good example to the disability community, especially for people like me who have hearing impairments and wear hearing aids. Do not to be afraid of being discriminated or ridiculed. We have our strengths and should not give up in our pursuit of success,” said Zi Lin, who is now a first-year Communications and New Media undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Inspired by her father who always taught her to help the less fortunate, 20-year-old Sarah aspires to pursue a doctorate in human rights and ethics in order to be an effective advocate for those in need. She was diagnosed with dyslexia, motor coordination difficulties and Asperger’s Syndrome when she was in primary school. Now a second-year political science student at the NUS, Sarah plans to use her knowledge to research how Singapore’s social and political climate affects people with disabilities. “My father had a massive stroke early this year. This experience has highlighted for me the need for better support for persons with disabilities who require medical help as they could be disadvantaged by their circumstances,” said Sarah on what motivates her to pursue her dreams.

Joshua Ong has been told numerous times that the condition affecting his vision – Juvenile Open-Angle Glaucoma – would limit his career options and his suitability for certain courses of study. The optimistic 21-year-old never allowed such advice to divert him from the goals he sets his sights on. “Being awarded the APB Foundation Scholarship is among my greatest achievements. I hope to make the most out of this privileged opportunity by giving back to the disability and visually impaired community through advocating for more educational institutions to tailor-fit curriculums and make provisions for students with special needs,” said Joshua who is a second-year Linguistics & Multilingual Studies undergraduate at the Nanyang Technological University.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the APB Foundation, Mr Frans Eusman, was all praise for the Sarah, Joshua and Zi Lin. “The three new scholars have shown great tenacity and resilience to rise above their circumstances. I believe that they will be excellent role models and make meaningful contributions to society. The APB Foundation is delighted to recognise and empower these outstanding youths to pursue a university education and fulfil their fullest potential.”

The APB Foundation has supported 37 scholars and committed more than S$1 million towards the APB Foundation Scholarship programme since its launch in 2004.

At the awards ceremony, SPD also shared a new youth mentorship programme that it is developing for youths with disabilities between 17 and 35 years old. Supported by APB Foundation, this new initiative – Youth Development Programme – aims to equip youths with practical skills and seed-funding to give back to the society through community projects.

“The APB Foundation has consistently believed in the potential of youths with differing abilities, by investing and nurturing them, as well as providing them with a platform for success. Beyond the scholarship programme, we are confident that our collaboration through the Youth Development Programme will enable us to do more to empower our youths,” said Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director, SPD.