Pave the Way for Underprivileged Students

June 2022

Maryknoll Secondary School in Ngau Tau Kok has been providing education to underprivileged youth for over five decades. Being an alumnus himself, the current principal Martin Lai Wing-chun has witnessed the transformation of the school over the years.  Adhering a motto of Benevolence and Diligence, Maryknoll has lent consistent support to underprivileged students and Principal Lai has spared no effort in helping them apply for scholarships, which he sees as a means for the students to overcome their obstacles when furthering their education.

Being an alumnus himself, the current principal Martin Lai Wing-chun has witnessed the transformation of Maryknoll Secondary School over the past forty years. He was invited to teach at his alma mater right after he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Hong Kong in 1986 and later became the school’s principal in 2001.

In its early days, Maryknoll focused on providing students with vocational training. It was only until the mid-1990s that it gradually transformed into a grammar school. In September this year, the school will move into a new campus on Anderson Road from its current location on Choi Ha Road. Nevertheless, its mission of raising talents will remain unchanged. 

“The Catholic priests who founded the school insisted on providing education to underprivileged children living in a poor neighbourhood. They held on to the vision that education must be made available to all regardless of background,” said Principal Lai, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Hong Kong in 1986 and was invited by the priests to teach at his alma mater right after his graduation, and later became its principal in 2001. By now, he has spent forty years of his life in Maryknoll Secondary School. “For years, Kwun Tong has been the poorest district in Hong Kong with the highest poverty rate. Most students in this area come from underprivileged families. We hope to carry on with the vision of our founding priests to raise and nurture our students to become valuable members and contribute to our society.”

Unlike middle-class families, those grassroots often find it hard to afford private tutoring or professional training for their children. Timely support from schools is therefore important to bridge the gap. “We hold ‘remedial classes’ with our own graduates as tutors to mentor our current students.” Indeed, this has become the proud tradition of Maryknoll. Many accomplished alumni take pride to return to their roots and help the current students in various ways. Some even tap into their own networks and invite their own acquaintance who are professionals in different fields to give speeches at the school and provide students with career guidance after graduation.

Emphasise the Development of Spirituality and Virtues

Besides academic achievement, Principal Lai also stresses the importance of the students’ holistic development. In addition to traditional Chinese education which emphasises in nurturing different virtues, spirituality is also part and parcel of the education at Maryknoll. Besides classroom learning, students are encouraged to participate in community services that the school organises. “Of all the volunteering activities, I think the elderly visits are the most meaningful. I hope that students can learn about the lives and the needs of the elderly through these visits and interactions, and bring home what they learn about caring and respect for their own elders.”

Besides academic achievement, Maryknoll Secondary School also stresses the importance of the students’ holistic development particularly in spirituality and virtues. Principal Lai found that the elderly visits are amongst the most meaningful volunteering activities as students can bring home what they learn about caring and respect for their own elders.
Besides academic achievement, Maryknoll Secondary School also stresses the importance of the students’ holistic development particularly in spirituality and virtues. Principal Lai found that the elderly visits are amongst the most meaningful volunteering activities as students can bring home what they learn about caring and respect for their own elders.

For two consecutive years, students of Maryknoll were awarded the Link University Scholarship. Apart from the student’s academic achievement which is a fundamental criterion of the nomination, Principal Lai also considers students’ character and would take into account their family background, with the aim of inspiring more students from grassroots.

For two consecutive years, students of Maryknoll Secondary School were awarded the Link University Scholarship. Apart from the student’s academic achievement which is a fundamental criterion of the nomination, Principal Lai also considers students’ character and would take into account their family background, with the aim of inspiring more students from grassroots.

Maryknoll’s Students Garnered the Link University Scholarship Two Years in a Row

“Chong Hoi-chun, the scholarship recipient last year, came to Hong Kong to study only during the senior years of secondary school. With much hard work, he achieved good results in the DSE examinations. I was very moved by his diligence and persistence. Given that he barely has any resources in Hong Kong, we hope this scholarship will serve as an encouragement for him.”  One can truly feel the parental love Principal Lai exudes to the students sharing the same tradition that he lived by and upheld.

When Hoi-chun first came to Hong Kong, he spent significant time and much effort in learning the local curriculum. “I am grateful to the wonderful teachers at Maryknoll. They embraced my shortcomings and encouraged me to work hard to reach my goals.” Hoi-chun wanted to major in a subject that enables him to serve the greater good in the future. With encouragements from his teachers, he made his dream come true and successfully enrolled in the University of Hong Kong’s Bachelor of Nursing Programme. 

Maryknoll Secondary School alumnus Chong Hoi-chun, the recipient of the Link University Scholarship last year, is now studying in the Bachelor of Nursing Programme in the University of Hong Kong as he has a big dream to serve the greater good in the future.
Maryknoll Secondary School alumnus Chong Hoi-chun, the recipient of the Link University Scholarship last year, is now studying in the Bachelor of Nursing Programme in the University of Hong Kong as he has a big dream to serve the greater good in the future.

Scholarship Provides Considerable Financial Support

“I am truly grateful to Principal Lai for the nomination,” Hoi-chun continued, “it was an invaluable experience for me and I still remember vividly the interview. I was nervous in the beginning as other interviewees showed promising performance. But then the encouragements and tips from my teachers came to my mind which helped me regain my confidence and composure, and finally won the scholarship. It was a great encouragement to me.” Having come from an underprivileged background, Hoi-chun says that the scholarship provides him a great support financially. “The $20,000 scholarship covers an entire semester of university tuition. This would allow me to focus on my academics with less time spending on part time work.”

The Link University Scholarship aims to award students who are the first amongst three generations in their families to attend university in Hong Kong.  Since its launch in 2015, this non-means-tested programme has awarded 1,160 scholarships for a total of $23.2 million, with each student receiving scholarship of $20,000. Application for the academic year 2022/23 has begun from 4 May 2022. Besides scholarships, Link has also held a number of community activities and workshops via the Link Scholars Alumni initiative. This initiative aims to broaden the horizons for the scholarship recipients and to enrich their university experience. Between 21 June and 13 July this year, Link Scholars Alumni will hold the summer volunteering programme in partnership with Food Angel. Volunteers will distribute donated food to those in need. On 30 June, trainer from TreeholeHK will hold a Hackathon workshop in Link’s headquarters for the scholarship recipients to inspire creativity in thoughts.

Link University Scholarship 2022/23 Application Timeline:

Year 1 university studies scholarship

  • 4 – 24 May 2022 – secondary school to submit Letter of Intent for nomination
  • 26 May to 6pm on 30 Jun 2022 – secondary school and nominee to submit online application

Year 2 – 4 university studies scholarship

  • 4 May to 6pm on 2 Aug 2022 – submit online application

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