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NUS iGraduAID Aims To Touch More Lives

At 20 years of age, Sarah Lavinia Joseph has never had a day off. To the second-year psychology student at the National University of Singapore, part-time work has always been part and parcel of being a student — until now, that is.

Tired of having to juggle her studies with part-time jobs, Joseph successfully applied for the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Student Advancement Bursary. Where once she worried about the lack of funds to complete her university education, Joseph now dreams of being a clinical psychologist. She hopes to pursue her master’s and Ph.D. degrees to realize her dream.

“I am so thankful that there is some money now. Money is always an on-going thought in the family,” Joseph said. “This is actually the first semester where I haven’t had to work part-time.”

Joseph is far from being alone in this financial struggle. She is one among hundreds of students who have benefited from the university’s Commencement Class Giving project since its conception in 2007.

The fundraising project is typically handled by NUS staff members to encourage graduating students to donate to help NUS students in need. This year, however, the FASS commencement giving team has launched the iGraduAID campaign, which is the first time fundraising is being helmed by graduating students from the faculty.

Phua Pei Pei, manager of donor relations for the FASS Commencement Class Giving project, said she hopes the new student-led iGraduAID campaign will garner more support from the faculty’s students.

Our aim has always been to encourage the graduating cohort to donate to help their peers in need, so what better way of encouraging this spirit of giving than having a campaign helmed by graduating students themselves? I am very happy that these students are stepping up to encourage their own cohort to donate.

Liu Xiaoxuan is campaign director for iGraduAID. Currently pursuing her final semester in business administration and communications and new media, she and five of her classmates have worked together on the campaign since August 2011.

“Stories of students in

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need are not often talked about, and most NUS students go through university life not knowing how they can help,” Liu said. “We want to create awareness

through the iGraduAID campaign and let students know that they are able to help touch another student’s life in tangible ways.”

He Peifen, bursary recipient and final-year sociology student, said this tangible help is felt not just by the individual, but by the entire family. Her life had taken an unexpected turn in 2010 when her father was diagnosed with liver cancer and Hepatitis B.

“When my father was diagnosed, I had to give up my application for the student exchange programme. I was supposed to leave for Germany right after that semester, but I postponed it to the next academic year,” she said. “With my father’s medical condition, it actually put a lot of strain in my family, and with the NUS academic fee being quite high, it was taxing on my family.”

Unlike Joseph, He could not work part-time because she was the primary caregiver for her father. She used money from the bursary to pay off her NUS tuition fees and course materials so that her parents could focus on her father’s medical treatments.

“I just want to say a very big thank you to those students that donated. It actually doesn’t just improve my life, it also affects and improves the lives of my family members as well,” He said.

Liu said she believes more lives can be touched like this through the new iGraduAID campaign this year.

“We aim to raise a minimum of $11,250 to sponsor at least five bursaries this year,” Liu said. “The new iGraduAID campaign is different from fundraising efforts in previous years, because we plan to utilize fun and innovative ways to encourage the graduating cohort to donate.”

She said the campaign will feature an exciting graduation party, Final FASStasy, the first graduation party for FASS. The team will also set up a Polaroid photo-taking booth during the semester. All proceeds from the graduation party and photo-taking will go toward the FASS Student Advancement Bursary Fund.

Apart from innovative and fun tactics, Phua said, the aim is also to assure students that all donations raised will be used only for students in need.

“We want to assure all students that the commencement giving team will utilize their donations in an appropriate and meaningful manner, and every cent will be put to good use,” Phua said.

The iGraduAID campaign will use a website and Facebook page to provide weekly updates on all donations collected, a first for any fundraiser in NUS.

In addition to weekly progress reports, Phua said, the criteria for selecting bursary recipients will be disclosed on the iGraduAID website and Facebook page. At the conclusion of the fundraising campaign, an email will be sent to donors informing them of the amount of donations collected and the number of bursaries created.

“Our aim is to raise enough money for five bursaries, but at the same time, we want to do it in an accountable and fun way,” Phua said.

Joseph said she agrees with the need for accountability, especially for the benefit of student donors.

“I mean these are students, after all, and they are not earning much. So, if they give back, it is important for them to know that the money is going back to students who really need them,” she said.

Joseph said she is currently looking forward to her first overseas internship in Vietnam at the end of this semester and hopes she can get “as much as (she) can from her university experience.”

“I feel proud actually that students are running this campaign instead of adults. I think it’s great that they are going beyond what they would normally do as students to help other people as well,” she said.

Donations are being accepted from now till the end of commencement in July.

For more information on iGraduAID and how to make a donation, log on to the iGraduAID website at

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About the NUS FASS Commencement Class Giving team

Introduced in 2007, the Commencement Class Giving project is an extension of the NUS Annual Giving campaign under the NUS Development Office. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Commencement Class Giving targets the faculty’s graduating cohort, encouraging them to give back to the university in support of their juniors. All funds collected by the FASS Commencement Class Giving team will go toward the FASS Student Advancement Bursary Fund for students in financial need.

Sarah Chiang Media Relations Director
Tel: (65) 9894 2160

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