It was the inspirational story that brought people to tears, but for David Lee, the chief executive of DWL Financial Services, it was much more than that.
After reading Daniel Hu’s story, thanking his parents who worked as cleaners and lived below the poverty line to help him achieve an outstanding HSC result, Mr Lee felt compelled to reach out to Mr Hu.
Mr Hu’s story resonated, as he experienced a similar struggle when he came to Australia from Malaysia as a young man many years ago.
“I grew up in a very poor Chinese Malaysian family in Malaysia and came to Australia when I was 27 speaking no English at all. I now own a successful financial planning company but, like Daniel’s parents, I did anything I could to get by in the early days,” Mr Lee said.
He made contact with Mr Hu, who received an ATAR of 99.85 – just shy of the 99.90 he needed for a university scholarship to study a combined law degree – and on Monday he made a surprise offer to the young student.
Over coffee, Mr Lee asked the Sydney Boys High graduate questions about his background, what he was hoping to study at university and how his parents were doing.
“He had a lot of empathy as he came from humble beginnings as well,” Mr Hu said. “He offered to pay for my university fees – which was very amazing – and he also offered a trip overseas for my parents.”
He said his parents, who still earn well below the average Australian wage, “probably won’t accept” the offer of a trip as “they are very proud people,” but he added “the gesture is well appreciated”.
“I felt initially surprised because it was the first time that someone could actually relate to my experiences and the experiences [and] emotions of my parents, and finally very grateful, lucky that he reached out,” Mr Hu said.
Mr Lee said the offer would make Daniel the first recipient of his FC Chong Education Scholarship for students like Mr Hu, in honour of his mother who always put others first despite their hardship.
“I am doing this partly because I understand [Daniel’s] situation and partly because I have always wanted to establish a kind of scholarship in memory of my mother, Fee Chin Chong,” he said. “She was a wonderful lady who taught me, among other things, love, kindness, compassion and gratitude and these qualities have made me who I am today.
“He is the most deserving candidate and as a recipient there is no expectation from him, other than I hope that he can carry on his own scholarship one day,” Mr Lee said.
However, a scholarship wasn’t the only offer Mr Hu received. Since his story was published, he has also been offered part-time jobs at three law firms.
“I feel extremely grateful for all of these opportunities. I have accepted one law firm offer already ,” he said.
Mr Hu will start work at Colin Biggers & Paisley this month. Tori Luxford, the firm’s talent acquisition manager said she found Mr Hu’s story exceptionally inspiring and decided to reach out.
“I read the article and … we thought he would be good for our culture and our firm and be a good contributor,” Mrs Luxford said.
After an interview, he was offered a position as a casual paralegal, where he will start learning the ropes of law practice.
“His background isn’t one of the regular HSC students who has come through, he has had some hardships,” Mrs Luxford said.
Mr Hu has said these kind gestures, particularly of Mr Lee, have inspired him to pass on good deeds to others at some point in the future just as Mr Lee did.
“There are plenty of people who could do with a helping hand,” he said. “The world would be a better place if there was a bit more love, kindness, and compassion.”