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News > The Oakham School Foundation > A Series of Happy Coincidences

A Series of Happy Coincidences

Dr Ken-Soon Tan ('94) talks about the events that led to him joining Oakham School on a bursary, the life-changing opportunities, and why he now supports The Oakham School Foundation.

Dr Ken-Soon Tan is Assistant Director of Renal Medicine at Logan Hospital in Brisbane, Australia. After initially joining Oakham School as a Music Scholar on a bursary, he was later awarded an Academic Scholarship. Ken left Oakham in 1994 to study Medicine at the University of Cambridge and after graduation he moved to Australia where he initially worked as a flying doctor in Alice Springs in Central Australia. In 2007 he moved to Brisbane where he has been ever since.

It was a lucky coincidence that I ended up at Oakham. Whilst taking my Royal School Music exams in Malaysia, I was spotted by a music director who recommended me to Graham Smallbone, the Headmaster of Oakham at the time. A bursary was then arranged for me and, following this, an Academic Scholarship (courtesy of the Jerwood Foundation).These enabled me not only to complete my education at Oakham School, but also supported me as an undergraduate of Medicine at the University of Cambridge.

The support was incredible when I was at Oakham. People always went out of their way to help and encourage you and you learnt to take up all of the opportunities offered to you.

Oakham gave me this sense that you can just go for things, even if the odds seem against you. That was the sort of can-do attitude that the School cultivated; it’s the sense of grasping an opportunity and just going for it. And I learnt that sometimes the results really will surprise you. Oakham instilled that in me and it’s still with me today.

I’m very invested in supporting bursaries and scholarships. It’s impressive to see what the Foundation has achieved, especially with its offering of bursaries and it means a lot to me to see this as I know it will offer pupils the same “leg-up” I was privileged to receive. I like to think that people should try and give back where they can. We as a family all do our part and donate to what we believe in; as such, I am committed to supporting the Foundation and I’m proud to be part of the 1584 Society.

Oakham School helped me to develop a good social conscience. The jobs that I've done have generally been in areas where there's a high amount of social disadvantage. Growing up at Oakham School, with its focus on charity and community, helped me to develop a real sense of empathy and compassion. The School has always had a good social conscience and I know that this is something that is instilled in students today. 

During my time at Oakham, I won a cross country award by accident which was a funny story. We were asked to do a walk around Rutland Water to support a charity and as the youngest, the group thought I was going to fall behind. Everyone started walking and for some reason I started running a little bit and walking a little, and at the end of it I finished about 10 or 20 minutes before the next person, so everyone was really surprised – as was I. I couldn’t walk for a week afterwards! They asked me to be in the cross country team, but I never repeated the feat again.

I still like to keep up with OOs and School news. I would have loved to have watched Jack van Poortvliet (‘19) when England played in Brisbane this summer, but I wasn’t able to get tickets. I also recently saw the events Oakham did for Pride; that moved me quite a bit and it was really nice to see the School supporting the event.

Some schools are all academic or sporty, but Oakham has always been more balanced. I think the 50:50 gender split helps to develop your emotional intelligence. When I went to university it was so obvious which students had been to a single sex school and who had been to a co-educational school by how comfortably they could talk to other people. That’s what I’ve always admired about the School.

 

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