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ESF The First 50 Years - People stories

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English Schools Foundation

Inspiring Curiosity to Achieve Excellence

ESF alumnus: Dr Alan Sihoe

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 9:02am

[Sponsored article] Dr. Alan Sihoe has truly made his mark in this world. As Clinical Associate Professor in Thoracic Surgery at the University of Hong Kong, he regularly performs life and death operations on those with serious lung ailments using the most advanced techniques. He is not only a successful surgeon, but a highly regarded, award-winning clinical researcher; whose work has been often cited around the world by others in the medical field.

Even with degrees from Cambridge University and training at major hospitals in the UK, Alan still attributes a great deal of his success to the original support and encouragement he received as a student at King George V School (KGV) in the 80s.

He points out that KGV created the right kind of learning environment to allow one to pursue a career wherever one’s passion may lead. "It was a very nurturing environment at KGV,” says Alan. “You never felt pushed into doing one thing or another. You found what you wanted to do and the school was there to support you every step of the way. And for that, I'm most grateful."

The academic environment at KGV encouraged students to let their curiosity run free – a feature to which Alan attributes much of his success in his award-winning research. While studying science at KGV, for example, his mind would often roam to explore many ideas and different viewpoints. Alan recalls fondly, "Teachers would take the time to discuss with me my thoughts and arguments, which really helped me develop my own line of thinking. The ability to think expansively and freely continues to play a central part in my research today."

When Alan opted to pursue a career in medicine, the network of friends and teachers at KGV also provided invaluable support. This included having ex-KGVers come back to speak to students about careers in their own professions – including in the medical field. The experience of what a great school can give to students has helped inspire Alan to himself become a highly rated educator of medical students and surgical trainees today.

"Most importantly, though, some of the happiest years of my life were in Hong Kong at KGV,” says Alan. “It was there that I met some of my best friends and together we made a lot of happy memories: those that we’ll share for the rest of our lives."

Alan’s  advice to students today is to make the most out of the seven years you spend at secondary school, as that time passes by quickly and will never come back. "Make every minute count,” he says. “By all means work hard – but also get together with your friends and enjoy that time. As you reach middle age, it becomes difficult just to get 10 other guys together to kick a ball around with you!"