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More innovative and inclusive Hong Kong envisioned by Student of the Year awards recipients

Annual recognition of young people who excel in academics, sports, the arts and community contributions shines light on their hope for a more just city

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 8:10pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2018, 11:19pm

A more innovative and inclusive society catering to diverse talents and needs – that is the future Hong Kong that the 19 winners of the South China Morning Post’s Student of the Year Awards are dreaming of.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Kowloon Shangri-La on Saturday, Grand Prize recipient Misha Hui-yan Fischer, 17, hoped that society could focus more on science and technology, particularly its creative aspects.

“Science is the best investment that can be made singly because our world is changing and Hong Kong needs to adapt itself,” she said.

Annual Student of the Year awards seek young Hongkongers who’ve overcome odds to strive for excellence

Now in their 37th edition, the awards honour secondary school pupils in the city whose outstanding achievements cover academic subjects, sports, the arts, personal growth and contributions to the community.

SCMP CEO Gary Liu said the awards measured more than achievement as they acknowledged young people with high-quality values and strong character.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the winners served as role models for their peers, and as leaders and innovators who could sustain Hong Kong’s competitiveness.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO of awards sponsor Hong Kong Jockey Club, told those attending the ceremony that he hoped they would be inspired by the experience to excel, take challenges and strive for a better society.

Fischer, of German Swiss International School, said she envisioned Hong Kong’s future embracing diversity, such as having women in STEM sectors without fear of being in the minority.

STEM refers to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are traditionally dominated by men.

Fischer was recognised for her advocacy and fundraising efforts for women in science. She worked with The Women’s Foundation to organise a panel discussion at her school. The event featured leading women in technology discussing challenges faced in STEM.

Fischer explained she planned to pursue STEM courses in the future, with her interests now tending towards computer science and physics.

“The feeling of discovery is incredible,” she said.

The feeling of discovery is incredible
Misha Fisher, Grand Prize winner

While Fischer described her parents and school as supportive of her ambitions, she expressed awareness of other talented girls who possessed similar drive but were held back due to societal discouragement.

She therefore hoped to continue her advocacy, building on the recognition of her award.

In a similar vein, the winner of the Scientist and Mathematician category, Mah Shaoqian, 18, hoped more people in Hong Kong would use science and technology for society’s betterment.

The Renaissance College student is the technology director of Hydropal, a company he formed with 26 schoolmates.

Noticing that many Hongkongers are workaholics who do not drink enough water, they invented a bottle that tracks how much water a person drinks and reminds him or her to drink an adequate amount. The company sold 120 such bottles last year.

Mah said he was pleased the government recently announced the injection of HK$50 billion (US$6.37 billion) into the innovation and technology industry for the city’s 2018/19 budget.

He stressed there was a need for Hong Kong to diversify its industries, with many pupils having immense potential and only needing encouragement.

Mah, who will study aerospace engineering at university in the US this year, said he hoped for the city’s school curriculum to be less heavy and for society to recognise people for their social impact.

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Community Contributor winner, Lam Chun-ngai, 17, urged a more inclusive Hong Kong society with less discrimination and disrespect.

The Ying Wa College student dreams of being a clinical psychologist in the future, and he hoped officials and society at large could do more to help the homeless, a group close to his heart.

Every week, Lam and other volunteers at the YWCA visit the homeless in Sham Shui Po district. They bring home-made soup or desserts and chat with them.

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After sharing his experience on social media, about 20 of his friends joined the cause.

Commission on Youth chairman Lau Ming-wai added that award recipients hailed from a greater variety of schools than in the past, sending an important message that success and achievement have many different meanings in society.