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NBS Alumnus Sponsors The Sellappah Scholarship In Memory of his Late Grandfather

If you graduated from the NBS MBA programme in July 2018, you would have had Pravin Raj as your fellow course mate. In addition to being the President of its Executive Committee, he is also outstanding for another reason: For sponsoring the Sellappah Scholarship.

Initiated in honour and memory of his late grandfather K.N. Sellappah, it aims to provide financial aid to students from Southeast Asia (excluding Singapore), Africa and South America, who are committed to making a positive contribution towards the development of their respective home countries and communities.

“It has always been a dream of mine to help underprivileged and deserving students achieve their academic aspirations,” said Pravin. “I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to obtain a quality education, to give them the stepping stone they need.”

That he chose to name it after his grandfather was no coincidence. Sellappah was Pravin’s mentor and a staunch advocate of the importance of education. “His life story is an inspirational one, which could motivate the future generations,” said the 34-year-old, who is the Strategic Planning Manager, Asia Pacific at automation solutions provider Emerson.

Born in 1913 in Sri Lanka into a poor family, Sellappah became a school teacher before selling what he could to journey to Malaya in search of a better life. During the Second World War, he was kidnapped and forced to work on the construction of the infamous Thai-Burma Death Railway.

Fortunately, he survived that ordeal, much to the joy of his family. Undeterred by the challenges life threw him, he pushed on. Sellappah was as a “calm and composed” person whom his family could always turn to for advice, “He was not a strict disciplinarian, but did things with a lot of love, and inspired you to do better.”

Pravin remembers how one day, after coming home from school, he went up to his grandfather to show him a test result where he had scored full marks, “He looked at it and said, ‘You can improve on the handwriting’. I smile when I think about it today.

“That was something he instilled in me: It is good to pat yourself on the back when you have done well, but also constantly strive to be better, not just for yourself, but for other people. Always think about how you can do more.”


8th Nanyang MBA Olympics

Sellappah passed away in 2006 at 92, but left behind valuable lessons in the importance of discipline, education, contributing to the community and perseverance to his grandson, “He played a big role in my life. I always looked up to him.”

It is against this backdrop that influenced Pravin to set up the scholarship with NBS. In fact, this is the second one he has established in Sellappah’s name; the first is at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, where he received his Bachelor degree. Having had prior experience made the process even easier.

“The NBS team was very helpful and fantastic from the start to end. They made it happen quickly and always kept me in the loop so I was aware of the progress. The important thing is when you have the right people with a similar mind-set and desire to make things done, it’s easy,” revealed Pravin.

What also propelled him towards this decision was the enriching time he had during the MBA programme, “We worked hard and played hard. It was easily one of the best decisions I made. I like to think it has made me a better person. I’ve made some friends for life.”

To encourage others to follow him in his footsteps, Pravin had this to say, “There are many ways through which one can contribute back to one’s alma mater. Identify what resonates with you and just make it happen. The positive impact you can create in the lives of others cannot be underestimated.”


To find out more about Nanyang MBA and The Sellappah Scholarship, click here.