The OCBC Bank has long been an active philanthropic advocate, as seen through its many sponsorship initiatives and programmes. Among these is the OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship, which was founded on the sole belief that every individual should have the opportunity to pursue a university education. To date, the scholarship has helped over 400 talents of various academic backgrounds to fulfil their aspirations. Many of these young talents have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, engineers and musicians.
Perhaps the most unique bond-less scholarship option, Donald feels very thankful to have received the OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship. Not only would it allow him to pursue music immediately upon graduation, but it has also helped alleviate the financial burden from his parents, who are retirees. Well on his way to fulfilling his dreams of becoming a musician, Donald is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music with Honours at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). An opportunity made possible only with the strong support from his parents and the OCBC Local Undergraduate Scholarship.
Early Encounters with Music
For Donald, music and in particular playing the piano has always been a very personal affair. Although he was taking piano lessons since the age of five, his love for music was only sparked a few years later when he heard a piece by Richard Clayderman. “I love the way he expresses his emotions though his music. Wanting to learn and mimic his music was what initially motivated me to take my piano lessons more seriously,” he says candidly.
Fast forward a couple of years to Donald’s Junior College days. In order to stay ahead of his academic and co-curricular commitments, he was left with no choice but to forgo his piano lessons and practice. “I remember feeling withdrawn, like I had lost my sense of direction. It was then that I realised my real passion was in music and that spurred me on to make it my career choice,” says Donald.
Despite his strong passion for music, Donald’s decision to formally pursue music in university was met with a few obstacles. Many of his relatives and friends do not view music as a good career choice and tried to persuade him otherwise. He recalls, “I was certain that I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming a musician and tried relentlessly to convince them of my choice. After many failed attempts and seeing how determined I was, I am very thankful that my parents eventually decided to respect and support my decision.”
Bachelor of Music with Honours student, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
OCBC takes pride in ensuring each scholar is provided with ample developmental opportunities, to interact and learn with other scholars about its organisation. Among its many curated programmes are Scholars @ CAMP-us, Scholars Day Camp and Scholars Day @ Work, which seek to introduce scholars to the OCBC family.
For a musician like Donald, the induction programmes have provided him with a rare all-access pass to experience the dollars and cents of the banking industry. “They are extremely interesting and serve as a great platform to introduce scholars to the organisation. Being so unfamiliar with the finance sector, the experience has opened my eyes and given me new insights to the challenges faced by professions in the sector,” he shares.
Aside from industry-focused programmes, OCBC also organises other programmes like Scholars @ CAMP-us. It provides a platform for OCBC’s current and alumni scholars to come together to network, exchange ideas and understand more about the OCBC family. Donald muses, “Being able to interact with my peers and seniors from different academic disciplines has certainly been refreshing. These programmes have also provided me with new perceptions, and insights which I can definitely learn from and implement to my studies.”
Donald has considered a few career paths upon graduating. Most of them circle around the idea of reciprocating the generosity which he has been given and actively contributing to Singapore’s art scene. With that in mind, he intends to not just be a musical practitioner who performs on stage, but also a music teacher. He believes that by nurturing and educating future music enthusiasts, it would help bring music to the masses and help secure the next generation of musicians for the ecosystem.
When asked what aspiring OCBC scholars should look for in a scholarship, Donald has a few words of advice. “I would advise them to definitely understand what it is they are seeking for in a scholarship. Is it only for the financial assistance, or for the great scholarship internship and induction programmes – like those OCBC organises? Additionally, the bond tagged to most scholarships should be another key consideration for any scholar. I feel that if they have considered and understood these important factors of a scholarship, they will be able to make a well-informed decision.”