SOTY 2015: The community spirit of Student of the Year

Last year's Community Contributor finalists share advice

Young Wang |

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From left: Yip Chi-nga, Chan Yan-ki and Augustin Tung Ho-yin.

It's been almost a year since we crowned the winners of SCMP's 2014 Student of the Year (SOTY) Awards, so with SOTY 2015 just around the corner, Young Post caught up with our top community contributors: winner Yip Chi-nga, first runner-up Chan Yan-ki, and second runner-up Augustin Tung Ho-yin.

What have you been up to since winning SOTY?

Yan-ki: Busy preparing for HKDSE. I want to study journalism at Chinese University, but I don't actually want to become a journalist. I just think journalism is a good way of feeling connected to society, and spreading messages.

Augustin: I got into CUHK's Faculty of Medicine after taking the DSE. University life is so different but I've adapted to it.

Recently, I've been setting up a new focus group named Lumos - we invite doctors to give campus talks on topics relating to social issues.

Chi-nga: I'm now studying social work at IVE. School work has kept me busy but I'm still involved in a lot of volunteer work - it's where my interests lie anyway - and studying social work makes me more professional.

How did you make use of your prize money?

Yan-ki: I spent some during last year's Book Fair, but I'm saving the majority for a VolTra trip after DSE. I've always wanted to do a volunteering trip abroad and I'm going to use my prize money for flight tickets.

Augustin: I haven't touched it yet! I'd like to get into the habit of saving money.

Chi-nga: I was very practical. I spent the money on tutoring classes as the HKDSE was my priority at the time

What advice would you give to new SOTY Community Contributor candidates?

Yan-ki: Don't doubt yourself. Just try it, otherwise you won't discover your potential. And enjoy the interview - you get to meet lots of students who share the same passions.

Augustin: It's good to do all sorts of different types of service, rather than spending 500 hours on a single cause.

Chi-nga: Enjoy the process but keep in mind that it's not about winning. Don't forget why you started volunteering in the first place - that's what keeps you going.

What would make a contestant stand out in the final interview ?

Yan-ki: I think reflection is important when preparing for the interview. Look back at your work, and think about what you did right and wrong, and where you can improve.

Augustin: Don't just show off about what you've done and accomplished; focus more on your roles and, most importantly, what you've learned.

Chi-nga: Be sincere, be yourself, don't say something just to please the judges. They can tell whether you mean it or not.

What was your biggest challenge during SOTY last year?

Yan-ki: Self-introduction. I was struggling how to "sell" myself to impress the judges - of all the volunteering I've done, I couldn't decide which to talk about to introduce myself.

Augustin: I was quite nervous before the interview. But talking to other finalists in my group and sharing with them helped me.

Chi-nga: Preparation for the interview. It took time, which was valuable during HKDSE preparations. Also, I had to present myself in the language I'm not so strong in.

What is your biggest challenge now and how are you dealing with it?

Yan-ki: The DSE, but I think this "battle" is more about your determination. You need to be clear about what you want and stick to it.

Augustin: Catching up on my studies. I feel quite pressured by some of my peers at the Faculty of Medicine.

A lot of students would find it hard to find time for community service; what's your advice?

Yan-ki: I think it depends on how much you want to do it. If you have more fun doing social work, it's a natural choice. Often, people only think they benefit others doing community services, but I feel like I've gained a lot too .

Chi-nga: Speaking from my experience, I really enjoy helping others - it makes me happy. Honestly, when you're in the senior years at secondary school, schoolwork puts a lot of pressure on you. If I wanted to volunteer at the weekend, I'd try to get as much schoolwork done during the week as possible.