He helped a young woman pay for her studies at Kaplan Singapore when she could not afford the course fees.

Yesterday, Kaplan rewarded him in kind – by sponsoring his own daughter’s tertiary education.

A few months after their chance encounter in late 2013, technician John Shu, 50, gave about $6,000 to Ms Jaycie Tay, 32, a single mother who needed the money to study for a diploma.

She wanted to improve her lot and in 2014 she completed a diploma in marketing management from Kaplan Higher Education Institute.

Ms Tay is twice divorced and has been twice incarcerated for drug offences. It was on a bus on her way back to halfway house The Turning Point that she first met Mr Shu.

He helped pay for her studies. About a week after Kaplan learnt about his kindness in a Sunday Times report, it decided to return the favour by paying close to $20,000 for the tertiary education of his daughter Shermin Shu, 21.

Kaplan invited Mr Shu and his family to the Kaplan City Campus @ Wilkie Edge yesterday, where the school surprised him with news of the sponsorship.

Ms Shu is currently on holiday in Thailand, so her father received the sponsorship on her behalf from Kaplan Singapore president Leon Choong.

Speaking from Thailand, Ms Shu said her family was “on cloud nine” and that Kaplan had called her in the morning with the news.

“I thought I was dreaming, because who would have thought that the simple kind gesture of giving by my dad would give us such a good reward in the end?” said the recent graduate of a three-year diploma course in visual communication at Nanyang Polytechnic.

“One of the struggles for my parents is the school fees for my university studies… With this money from Kaplan, it (serves as) motivation for me to work harder and, most importantly, lessens the stress for my parents.”

Ms Shu plans to go to university to pursue her passion in art and design.

Kaplan will reimburse the costs of her entire polytechnic education, worth about $8,000 to $9,000. It will also contribute $10,000 towards her university degree, wherever she chooses to go.

Mr Choong said he was touched by the story of Mr Shu and Ms Tay, and called an emergency board meeting to see how the school could help Ms Tay.

Upon learning that she was already receiving aid from the Yellow Ribbon Fund Star Bursary, they turned to Mr Shu instead.

“John had set in motion a chain of kindness and, in the concept of paying it forward, we didn’t want it to end there,” said Mr Choong.

He highlighted that Kaplan sets aside $250,000 yearly in scholarships and sponsorships, usually for studies at Kaplan itself, “but in this particular case… we went above and beyond what was the norm – that’s why we had to convene a board meeting”.

Ms Tay had felt bad because she could not repay Mr Shu, but she is now grateful. She said: “When Kaplan told me that they wanted to recognise his kind heart, I felt like God had sent something to help me repay (him).”

Speaking in Mandarin, Mr Shu said he did not have any needs and that he is very happy for his daughter now that she has the money for her further education.

He said he is very grateful to Mr Choong. “I just want to thank him for giving my daughter this opportunity to study at a university.”

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Article by Jose Hong
Source: The Straits Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.