Students with Disabilities Get a Boost from Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation

Back row: Chairman of APB Foundation Board of Trustees and Advisory Committee and President of HEINEKEN Asia Pacific Mr Roland Pirmez, SPD Vice President Mr Winston Ngan, Dickson Tan, GOH [...]

Back row: Chairman of APB Foundation Board of Trustees and Advisory Committee and President of HEINEKEN Asia Pacific Mr Roland Pirmez, SPD Vice President Mr Winston Ngan, Dickson Tan, GOH Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information Ms Sim Ann Front row: Mdm Eunice Chua Lisa Ong’s mother, Alwyn Keng

Dickson Tan, 20, was born legally blind with a rare degenerative disease Leber’s congenital amaurosis. Although he has severe loss of vision, it did not deter him from doing his best in his studies. Dickson was the first legally blind student to pursue a diploma at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) in 2011. Through sheer hard work and determination, the business management studies student made it to the Director’s List for four consecutive semesters with his good grades as well as a place at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to study Computer Science.

With his stellar academic performance and passion for learning, Dickson, along with three other 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 Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communications and Information. The presentation ceremony was held on 8 October, marking the 10th year of this scholarship programme.

Dickson (left) and Alwyn (right)
Dickson (left) with Alwyn (right) after the presentation ceremony

This year’s scholarship cohort also included 23-year-old Alwyn Keng who mustered all his courage to go back to NUS after a swimming accident that left him paralysed from the waist down; 26-year-old Lewina Tan, whose route to UniSIM was an arduous one due to her disabilities and financial hardships, and finally 21-year-old Lisa Ong, an all-rounder who has not allowed her severe hearing impairment to hamper her zest for life and love for music. An accountancy student at the Nanyang Technological University, Lisa plays the piano and cello, and she hopes to encourage people with hearing impairments to enjoy music like anyone else.

Lewina (left) and Lisa (right)
Lewina Tan (left) and Lisa Ong (right)

For Dickson, he intends to give back to society after he graduates as he feels that people with special needs need equal opportunities, especially in employment. It is an area he has a particular feel for as he had difficulties securing an internship placement due to his disabilities, despite his good grades, “I’m pursing a course in technology in the hope that I can come up with inventions that would help improve the lives of people with visual impairment.”

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.

“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.