Student hopes to use own experience to inspire

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am

Having lived with a chronic disease for almost half her life, Sharon Wong Shui-kwan hopes to inspire others by becoming a teacher in a special school after winning a scholarship for her excellent academic performance at the Hong Kong Institute of Education.

On Tuesday, 117 scholarships totalling $2.3 million were awarded to HKIEd students with outstanding academic achievement and active participation in community service at the annual scholarships presentation ceremony.

Ms Wong, who is now 25, was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus at the age of 13. She was awarded a $5,000 HSBC scholarship for students with disabilities.

'The children in special schools usually need more care. They lack confidence,' the business studies student said. 'I wish I could inspire them using my personal experience.'

Ms Wong has had to undertake her studies in a wheelchair since Form Five and has undergone bone implants and hip joint replacement surgery on eight occasions.

'I was frequently in and out of hospitals from the age of 13 until Form Six,' she said. 'The longest time I spent in hospital was 11/2 years.'

Ms Wong said she had lost a lot of valuable studying time because of her medical problem, but added it was during her stay in hospital that she realised the importance of studying.

'There were times when I had to stay in the isolation room. Through the window, I could see students in uniform going to school. I envied them so much. That's when I realised studying was not a gift to everyone.'

Ms Wong entered Princess Alexandra Red Cross Residential School, a special school for the physically disabled, during her senior secondary years.

She said she understood the needs, abilities and difficulties of students in special school.

Although the disease's symptoms and the side-effects of drugs have made Ms Wong's studies even more difficult, she is famous on campus for 'never submitting assignments late'.

'This is a target I set for myself. Having a disease can't be an excuse for everything,' she said.