Life is full of ups and downs and many challenges. In the face of adversity, some people may just quit, while others thrive and become stronger.
Here are the stories of two of this year’s Link University Scholarship awardees. One of them went close to getting accepted to medical schools a few times but fell short because of various reasons. The other one went through mental distress after suffering from an acute
eye condition that caused vision loss at the age of 14, both showed tremendous resilience and refused to succumb to fate, when facing with different challenges. Instead, they kept chasing their dreams and working towards their goals with persistence
An ambition inspired by childhood experience
Jason, a year four biochemistry student at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, has won the scholarship every year since he started at the school. When asked why he wants to be a doctor, Jason recounted a childhood experience when his father was hospitalised
in critical condition but managed to recover thanks to the effort by medical staff. “When I was in primary five, my father had a severe bacterial infection and was hospitalised for nearly 10 months. He eventually recovered, and we were extremely
thankful. I was particularly in awe of the competency of the doctors and nurses.”
During the summer at the end of fifth form of secondary school, Jason volunteered at the United Christian Hospital. There he witnessed the effort by doctors to save lives. In one incidence, a patient suffered massive loss of blood and it took the doctor
more than an hour to operate and revive him. Jason was deeply moved by the experience and has since then set a goal of studying medicine programme at university. “These experiences helped me realise what a meaningful job being a doctor is. It
has helped me make up my mind to study medicine so that I can help people.”
Through sheer hard work, Jason scored an impressive 39 points at the Diploma of Secondary Education Exam (DSE), but sadly failed to admit to medicine programme due to a one-mark lag in his DSE results. As an alternative, he chose to study biochemistry,
and at the end of year one, he applied to transfer to the medical department, only to be rejected again because his lack of medical research experience. Undeterred, he reapplied at the end of year two. And though this time he scored well enough in
all areas, the department decided to go with another candidate. After graduating this year, he will give it another go by applying as a new student to study medicine at The University of Hong Kong and The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His goal
is to become a neurologist – which would allow him to treat patients and conduct dementia research simultaneously.
“I really can’t find another career that I want more than medicine,” he said. Fortunately, the scholarship and
money made from tutoring have helped relive his family’s financial pressure and allow him to continue his education. “Four consecutive years of scholarship has been a big help. It has helped paid for my living expenses so that I can concentrate
on my study and research.”
When eyesight hurts, soul hurts
Eleanor is a penultimate psychology student at Hong Kong Shue Yan University. Like Jason, she has gone through a rough stretch earlier. When she was 14, her right eye suffered from an acute condition that caused permanent damage to her vision. The shock
didn’t only affect her studies, but also left a deep scar mentally. “I was in and out of hospital very frequently due to fluctuations of my condition. That stopped me from attending school so I fell behind, my grades dropped massively,
I went from the top of class to almost having to repeat a grade. Juggling between my studies and health made me so worried and anxious, it turned into a vicious cycle which brought me despair.” From the experience, she has learned that when
one’s eyesight hurts, her soul hurts as well.
Transforming personal experience to enlighten others to adopt new lives
“I’m so grateful for my sister who lifted me up. When I was in despair, she was there for me the whole time, giving me courage to face my life and the world again. I would never have made it without her unconditional love and care.”
Eleanor then picked herself up physically, mentally. She managed to catch up with school work and at the end passed the DSE and got accepted by Hong Kong Shue Yan University’s Psychology Department. Since then, she is determined to become a
health psychologist focusing on patient’s mental well-being after vision loss.
Since year two, Eleanor has proactively initiated research projects at The Chinese University’s Eye Centre, and published multiple academic papers on international
medical journals regarding vision-threatening diseases as the Psychology lead. Her goal upon graduation is to do a master’s degree and PhD in health psychology in the UK, to ultimately intervene on anxiety and depression among vision loss patients.
“It is very common for visually impaired patients to develop anxiety and depression. And yet, there is no well-developed mental support for them. I am determined to design interventions tailored for trauma prevention after sight loss. I wish to
transform my own experience to help people who share similar experience as me to better adapt to their new lives.”
Jason and Eleanor both see the Link University Scholarship to be an affirmation of their effort. Moving forward, their wishes
are to do more to give back to society and to help more people.
A total of 220 students awarded Link University Scholarship
This year, Link awarded the scholarship to 220 students and held its first physical ceremony for the first time in four years on 25 February. A number of distinguished guests from the 11 universities attended, including Professor Rocky Tuan, Vice-Chancellor
of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Professor Paul Lam, President of Hong Kong Metropolitan University, and Dr Albert Chau, Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) of Hong Kong Baptists University, together with other senior university deputies,
as well as the panel of judges comprising representatives from the public, business, education, and social services sectors. Prior to the ceremony, about 180 scholarship awardees joined a workshop organised by Link Scholars Alumni to foster connections
among the scholars.
About Link University Scholarship
The Link University Scholarship was established in 2015 to award outstanding local Hong Kong students who are the first amongst three generations in their families to attend university in Hong Kong. Since 2021, the scheme has extended its coverage to
all 11 universities in Hong Kong, with the number of beneficiaries increased to 220. A panel of judges comprising members from Link, the public, business and education sectors, non-governmental organisations, and social services groups, came together
to interview qualified students. Students were assessed based on their capability and social services participation. Each awardee receives $20,000 from the Scholarship. They are also invited to join Link Scholars Alumni, and to participate in Link’s
professional and personal development workshop and other volunteer activities.