SINGAPORE, 28 September 2018 – Staying positive and optimistic even when life throws you a curveball must be one of the hardest things to do. But four young individuals, with their indomitable spirit, spurred by their hopes and dreams, did just that.
The four university undergraduates – Caleb Tay, Justin Kueh, Lionel Lee and Brenda Khoo – overcame their disabilities to excel academically and were rewarded with the Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities. Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education, and Mr Andy Hewson, Managing Director of Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore, gave out the scholarships this morning.
The youths joined the rung of 40 alumni who had benefited from the bond-free scholarship programme since APB Foundation launched it in 2004.
“The Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation is proud of our long-standing and flagship programme with SPD which underpins our giving back to Singapore. Through the APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities, we want to recognise and help outstanding youths with disabilities to pursue a university education and fulfil their fullest potential. We believe in investing in these youths and this has been, and will always be, a privilege for us,” said Mr Hewson.
The only female recipient this year, Brenda was diagnosed with cerebral palsy which affected her mobility and hearing. Despite the challenges, Brenda remains optimistic about life and has a cheerful demeanour which endears the 20-year-old to her peers and teachers. Her compassion and empathy for others, through her voluntary activities, stood out distinctly. A Bachelor of Laws undergraduate at the Singapore Management University (SMU), Brenda dreams of setting up a pro-bono legal clinic for people with disabilities.
Caleb Tay is another scholarship recipient. Diagnosed with cone dystrophy, a rare eye disorder that reduces the ability to see colors and an increased sensitivity to light, Caleb’s peers had labelled him a “copy-cat” as he could not see the whiteboard and often had to rely on his classmates’ notes. Because of this, Caleb was often alienated in his early school life. Instead of backing into a corner, Caleb showed true mettle and perseverance, choosing to focus on the positives. A business management undergraduate at SMU, the 21-year-old dreams of changing society’s perspectives on the special needs community through influencing today’s youths.
“Receiving the scholarship was a pleasant surprise and truly an honour. Having been supported by my parents for my entire educational life, I believe this award has empowered me to take my first steps towards independence,” said Caleb.
Lionel Lee, 22, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and studying mathematical sciences at Nanyang Technological University, and Justin Kueh, who has profound hearing loss and a social science, politics, law and economics bachelor degree student at SMU, were the other two recipients this year. Justin, 20, received the SPD Youth Aspiration Award (YAA) in January this year and the grant helped him in his double-bass music training.
The APB Foundation Scholarship for Persons with Disabilities is fully sponsored by the APB Foundation and managed by SPD, an organisation that helps people with disabilities. The scholarship recognises students with disabilities who have excelled in their studies and demonstrated strong leadership in their community. To date, more than S$1.5 million have been committed towards the education of students with special needs. Through this scholarship programme, the students receive $12,000 annually to cover their course fees in any of the six recognised local universities.
The APB Foundation also funds SPD’s Youth Development Programme (YDP) and the Specialised Case Management Programme (SCMP). A mentorship programme, the YDP aims to empower and equip youths with disabilities with life and technical skills so that they can give back to the society by furthering inclusion in Singapore, while the SCMP aims to provide holistic support to persons with disabilities and their caregivers and help them lead fulfilling lives.
Grateful for the long-standing partnership, Mr Abhimanyau Pal, Executive Director of SPD, said: “APB Foundation’s willingness to explore areas that require support is indeed laudable. They have propelled students towards their ambitions, and for close to 15 years have turned the lives around for many individuals with disabilities and their families through their open-hearted contributions. We are indeed thankful for organisations like APB Foundation for their commitment to serve and to improving lives in Singapore.”