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Dr Wong Hee Ong (right), Alumna of NUS Medicine, with Professor Kua Ee Heok (left) from Department of Psychological Medicine. Dr Wong was one of Prof Kua's teachers when he was a medical student at the University of Malaya.

Alumna Dr Wong Hee Ong (Class of 1953) survived World War II, completed medical school and contributed to healthcare in both Singapore and Malaysia as an educator and practitioner.

At the young age of 14, Dr Wong had to give up on her studies during the war and work to support her family of 12. After a stint as a cashier in a doctor’s dispensary, she took up an offer to learn typewriting for a Japanese firm and provided clerical services for various offices. Despite years of working in the city, Dr Wong was determined to study Medicine and did her own revision in the hope of entering medical school one day. After the war, she enrolled into King Edward VII College of Medicine and was in the same class as current Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and his wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali.

Dr Wong served at the Singapore General Hospital for more than a decade after graduation, where she guided and taught medical students how to diagnose a patient’s condition. She relocated to Malaysia to set up University of Malaya's Faculty of Medicine and served as a lecturer there. She also worked as a private clinical consultant and served as the Chief Executive of Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

Retirement did not deter her passion to contribute to society. At 91, she helps seniors prevent dementia by training volunteers through the NUS Mind-Science Centre’s dementia prevention programme – Age Well Every Day.

"It is also, in a way, a dementia prevention programme for me. It helps me stay mentally and physically active. It gives me something to do when I wake up in the morning," she said.

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