Jul 30, 2011
Nursing teacher's $250,000 gift to ITE
Former employee's bequest will be used to help top students
Ms Gui, in her 60s, with her sister's former students Marcus Chia, 24, and Carolyn Choo, 23, at a training room in ITE. Ms Gwee's bequest of $250,000 is the largest that ITE has received from a current or former staff member, and will be used to create awards for top nursing students. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING
MS GWEE Mui Boon worked as a nurse for nearly 40 years, and also taught student nurses as an instructor at the former School of Nursing and a nursing course manager at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
In her last days, as she battled ovarian cancer, she wanted to do even more for the profession she loved so deeply.
As her final act of commitment to nursing, she bequeathed $250,000 of her life savings to ITE in her will. It will be used to set up awards for top nursing students.
Ms Gwee, who was single, died in April last year at the age of 58.
Last Saturday, her elder sister Gui Siew Boon presented ITE chief executive Bruce Poh with a cheque in a ceremony at ITE College East in Simei. Starting next year, two of its top nursing students every year will each receive $500 in cash and a medal.
Ms Gwee's bequest is the largest that the institute has received from a current or former staff member.
Ms Gui, who is in her early 60s, told The Straits Times that her sister's gift to ITE had surprised their family.
'She wanted to do more for nursing, and she always felt strongly for ITE students, many of whom come from low-income families. She wanted to make their journey easier,' said the retired senior executive.
Ms Gui said her sister discovered she had cancer in 2002, but she loved her job and was determined to work even while undergoing treatment.
She finally had to retire in 2008 as her health was deteriorating.
Before joining ITE, she was principal of the School of Nursing then run by the Ministry of Health. She also worked as a nurse at various hospitals.
Ms Gui said her sister set her heart on becoming a nurse after she was admitted to hospital with diphtheria, an upper respiratory tract disease. Then a teenager, she was cared for at the hospital by a kind-hearted nurse.
Ms Gui said her sister took up teaching after excelling at a midwifery course and being selected by her tutor to be a clinical instructor. She also went to Wales and Scotland for courses in nursing education.
Madam Mary Low, 64, a senior nursing lecturer at ITE who had known Ms Gwee for about 30 years, said: 'She was very thrifty and would not spend extra money on clothes or shoes, but she was so generous when it came to helping her students - that was the kind of person she was. She was always thinking about others.'
One of five children, Ms Gwee was raised by her mother, who worked as a washerwoman. Her father died when she was young.
Ms Gui said: 'We were brought up not to spend money unnecessarily. But I knew my sister felt strongly for her students - she would use her own money to pay for their meals when she knew they had no money.
'It was my sister's wish for the award to inspire and motivate nursing students, so they would continue their quest for further education and contribute conscientiously to their chosen profession.'