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Good Schools Guide

IB high-flyers ready for the next step on worthwhile career paths

Students with perfect International Baccalaureate scores from St. Paul’s Co-educational College have already decided which direction to take

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 3:50pm

Since becoming an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School in 2011, St. Paul’s Co-educational College has been a fertile ground for producing IB high-flyers, with 17 students having scored a perfect 45 in IB diploma programme.

The first batch of IB graduates left the school in 2013, since when a fresh batch of students – of between 23 and 63 candidates – has completed the programme each year.

This year, the 103-year-old school has produced five perfect scorers, all of whom have made their minds up about what their next steps will be.

Isa Cheng Yee-sum, who says she was “surprised” by her results, aims to further her studies in the UK, where she plans to study statistics and management in business.

“At this point, I am still unclear [about] my career path and I wish to explore different opportunities [while at] university,” the interschool basketball champion says. She previously took part in the Junior Achievement Company Programme which gave her the opportunity, under the guidance of business advisers, to set up her own business. The five-month period was, she says, a “great experience to learn more about business”.

Before she continues with her studies, Cheng is teaching summer programmes at St. Paul’s Co-educational College Primary School.

Hong Kong schools get International Baccalaureate exam results, 38 pupils bagging full marks

Lauren Chan, 18, is another perfect scorer who is opting to go to the UK, where she will major in human, social and political sciences at Cambridge University. “After doing my degree I hope that I’ll be able to contribute to society by engaging with social, economic, environmental or political issues – whether nationally or internationally,” she says.

In her free time, Chan enjoys photography – in particular, snapping pictures of her friends. “It allows me to slow down, appreciate the beauty of my surroundings, and see things from a different perspective,” she says. “Also, as there are different kinds of cameras [analogue and digital] and endless types of photography, I have a lot of space to explore and experiment.”

An active participant in volunteer work, Chan is involved in the children’s charity Make-A-Wish Hong Kong and co-founded Eduklase – an online platform which aims to make educational resources accessible to all – when she was in form five, along with a group of schoolmates. She is responsible for designing the organisation’s website. “This was a hands-on experience that allowed me to look into the problems with education in the world today and try to come up with a solution to my best ability,” she says.

Another co-founder of (and director of research for) Eduklase, Sebastian Pun Man-siu, also got full marks in his IB exam. He is heading to Oxford University in the UK to study philosophy, politics and economics in the coming academic year. His hobbies include listening to church music and playing table tennis. “I chose table tennis because I was physically weak when I was young so I couldn’t do intense sports like running, swimming or football,” he says.

Also UK-bound is Sandra Leung, who will study biological sciences at Edinburgh University. But before she boards the flight, she is spending the summer volunteering for Dr Benoit Guénard’s laboratory at the University of Hong Kong, which specialises in insect biodiversity. “[I will be] doing laboratory work, for instance sorting arthropod specimens, [which will] allow me to catch a glimpse into the life of a researcher.”

Leung is also herping – looking for amphibians and reptiles – and birdwatching with her friends around the city, “both for fun, and for honing my photography and wildlife identification skills”.

“I naturally gravitate to the wonder of nature, especially to snakes and spiders,” she says, “[thanks to] a daily dose of Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries when I was young, [and] support from [my] parents and sister.”

The nature lover remains undecided about whether to work in academia as a scientific researcher, or become an advocate of environmental protection. “Nature has left an imprint on me since I was young. It is painful to witness the damage we have caused, and are still causing, on Earth,” she says.

It is painful to witness the damage we have caused, and are still causing, on Earth
Sandra Leung

“[Either] career would allow me to embrace the wonder of nature and inform others to take action in response to the critical environmental crisis we are facing.”

The only aspiring doctor from within the group, Yannie Choi, is staying in Hong Kong for her university studies.

“I don’t really have an intriguing story behind my choice – I just feel like being a doctor suits my personality,” Choi says. “I have also imagined myself [becoming] an educator, inspired by my teachers at secondary school and a teaching experience in Xinjiang, and I do enjoy sharing knowledge and experience with juniors. I’m not sure if I can achieve both in the future – by becoming a professor maybe – but I will see where life takes me.”

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The 17-year-old discovered her passion for becoming a doctor early on. She visits the Chee Sing Kok Social Centre of the Humanity Love three times a year to chat and play games with the elderly. She also tried her hand at measuring blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and testing cholesterol and uric acid levels in her final year at school, when she was engaged in a health exhibition organised by the Association of Doctors.

Last summer, Choi took part in a three-week student volunteer attachment programme at the specialist outpatient clinic of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Queen Mary Hospital, where she worked on tasks from renewing labels in the clinic to sitting in during clinical sessions.

Hands-on work when in lower forms sparked her interest in science, while a hospital visit to the department of paediatric and adolescent medicine in Princess Margaret Hospital gave her a glimpse at doctor-patient and doctor-family interaction. “Such first-hand observation impressed me with the beauty and responsibility of being a doctor. I understand that I love human interaction rather than staying in the laboratory all day long, which narrows my way to study medicine.”