Philanthropy runs deep in my family. My paternal grandfather, who emigrated from his village in war-torn China to Singapore, contributed to several charities, including educational programs for young girls in Singapore. I’ve always been surrounded by generosity and have witnessed its impact on my whole life, which is why I knew I always wanted to do my part — not just for Singapore, but for the world.
Giving to Massachusetts General Hospital seemed the most natural way to make a difference. I have been connected to the hospital since 1994, with 19 of those years spent as an official employee. After finishing my PhD degree, I knew Mass General was the ideal place to pursue a career. In 2001, I interviewed for a position with John H. Growdon, MD, the founder of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mass General. I knew it was a match made in heaven when he asked during the interview if I liked chocolates.
I love chocolates.
Over my 19 years at Mass General, I learned so much about Alzheimer’s disease (AD) — a condition I had been naïve about aside from knowing my maternal grandmother had suffered memory loss prior to passing. Dr. Growdon really stood as a mentor to me. He believed in me and helped launch my career. During my time under his guidance, I was able to meet extraordinary professionals, learn everything there is to know about AD, create outreach programs for Asian communities in Boston to increase awareness and facilitate a speaking event in my home country of Singapore featuring Dr. Growdon. I felt, and continue to feel, deeply honored to have such a “giant” in the field as my mentor, and I know I can always count on him.
My gift to create an endowed fund through my will — one I hope will become an endowed chair by the time I’m 101 years old! — is in honor of my role models, including two pioneers in the field, Psychiatrist Elissa C. Kleinman, MD, and Psychologist Linda Luz-Alterman, PhD. It is also a tribute to one of the leading Alzheimer’s disease centers in the country, a place I called “home” for such a huge part of my life. It will provide important support to drive innovative research in AD, as well as training opportunities for promising clinician-scientists. I hope that my giving makes a significant impact on communities that are often overlooked, including Asian and Asian American populations.
Since returning to Singapore to spend time with my aging parents, I often reflect fondly on my years at Mass General. I have always been impressed by its diversity and compassion. Every person working there is so talented, whether they are a physician or someone working in a supporting role. Every person brings their dedication, expertise and resources to the table for the benefit of the patients they serve. It’s admirable.
I miss Mass General, but I hope this gift functions as a small legacy and a way to say, “thank you.” Thank you for 19 wonderful years!