SOTY 2018: Best Improvement judges are looking for progress, not perfection


Best Improvement candidates should be modest about their progress and find ways to do even better

Joanne Ma |

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Last year's winners of the Student of the Year Best Improvement award.

The Student of the Year Awards recognise not only the fruits of success, but also the process of personal growth. On top of that, the awards encourage students to share their achievements – big or small – and try to influence the people around them.

Young Post spoke to the judges of Students of the Year – Best Improvement category to learn about the qualities that they are looking for as well as some tips for students on how to stand out from the crowd.

“The winner doesn’t have to be perfect. We look at how far they’ve come instead,” said Virginia Choi, managing consultant and country manager at Tamty McGill Consultants International.

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Similar achievements

If there are two candidates with similar achievements and backgrounds, Choi added, the person who has faced more difficulties due to their physical or mental limitations will have an advantage.

Shortlisted candidates need to show their efforts rather than a list of accomplishments. The significance of this award is to recognise those who have been working very hard and are finally making progress, she said.

(From left) Virginia Choi, Amy Chan and Olga Wong say the award recognises those who have been working very hard and are finally making progress.
Photos: Roy Issa, Xiaomei Chen and K. Y. Cheng/SCMP

Olga Wong, editor of Hong Kong news at South China Morning Post, thinks it’s important for students in this category to show that they have changed for the better, and how their improvements have affected the people and surroundings.

Amy Chan Lim-chee, executive manager of the Racing Development Board and headmistress at Apprentice Jockeys’ School, agrees. “Whether or not that person loves to share and show their love to society makes all the difference,” Chan said.

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She added that she’s looking for someone who is positive, responsible, disciplined and constantly chasing their dreams and excellence. The eagerness to improve and learn is very important. Apart from that, “they have to be humble”, she said.

“The winners that I’m looking for don’t act like they know everything. Even though they have made some progress in life, they stay modest and find ways to do even better.”

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Choi added: “Being open-minded and humble is the essence and spirit of the award. There must be someone in the world who’s more outstanding than you.”

Wong recalled that past winners were very sincere, persistent, and caring. They had the courage to face their past and were determined to have a better future.

“They walk the talk, share their experiences with others, and make an impact on those who are facing the same struggles and challenges,” she said.

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Be honest at interview

Chan believes that students should be honest at the interview.

“They should talk frankly about what they’ve done. They shouldn’t hide something or pretend to be someone they’re not.”

Students should also come prepared, meaning they should know their strengths and weaknesses, she said. In addition, since they only have a short time to present their views, getting straight to the point is crucial.

Here’s another important piece of advice: students should relax and just be themselves. As Wong said: “It’s a candid sharing about their past and how they are working towards their future wishes.”

The Student of the Year Awards competition is organised by the South China Morning Post and Young Post, and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

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