SOTY 2016: Best Devotion to School winners aren't serving for the sake of awards

The winners share their achievements, struggles, inspirations and goals for the future

Nicola Chan |

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Winner of Best Devotion to School (L to R) Kate Chan Lok-san, Ignacio Mario Hui Bay-hymn, Noxx Lam Tsz-long, Principal Chan Free Tutorial World Founder Chan Hung, Lan Suet-ying and Lotus Yu Ngor-yeuk.

Whether they go from school subject representative to political representative, or president of the school council to president of a global company, there's little doubt that this year's winners of the Student of the Year - Best Devotion to School Award are destined for greatness. Meet five of Hong Kong's best and brightest: Buoy Hymn Ignacio Mario Hui, Kate Chan Lok-san, Lau Suet-ying, Noxx Lam Tsz-long, and Lotus Yu Ngar-yeuk. Through a variety of leadership or teamwork roles, each showed commitment and dedication to their school worthy of recognition.

For Suet-ying, of Po Leung Kuk Tang Yuk Tien College, the SOTY award was a big honour, but was not what motivated the work she has done for her school, which includes being Chairperson of Class Association and Chairlady of the Students' Union. Instead, Suet-ying says her drive was "self-improvement".

"I wanted to see how much potential I could reach," the 17-year-old said.

With pressures at school mounting, sacrificing a big chunk of her study or free time to take on extra responsibilities was a daunting prospect. But thanks to the support from her teachers, Suet-ying, who is also a Young Envoy for Unicef, wasn't dissuaded. She now has ambitions to become a English teacher to "inspire people like my teachers inspired me".

Like Suet-ying, 17-year-old Kate from Diocesan Girls' School feels her greatest achievement is not the SOTY award itself, but rather the work she did to earn it. In fact, getting to write about her contributions to her school for the competition reminded the scholarship student and head girl just how much she has to be proud of.

"It provided an opportunity for self-reflection on what I have done in the past six years to improve school life for my fellow schoolmates," she said.

Kate also confessed that one of the SOTY judges, Chan Hung - founder of Free Tutorial World - had long been one of her role models.

"I was very honoured to have had the chance to meet him in person and be interviewed by him," said Kate, who shares Chan's dedication to "educating the underprivileged in Hong Kong", and is now a volunteer with the Free Tutorial World Scheme.

Kate isn't the only SOTY winner to have been inspired by one of the judges. Victoria Shanghai Academy's Noxx credits judge Shelley Lee, a former Academy student, with "encouraging me to continue my contribution towards the school and community".

Noxx claims he started his school career as a "below-average student", but he now has a string of impressive titles, including Chairman of the Photography Team, Chairman of Campus TV and 2016-2017 winner of the Hong Kong Outstanding Student Award. The key, he believes, "is to be goal-oriented".

"It is important to establish a direction and an objective, and follow through with it," he said.

Meanwhile, for Good Hope School student Lotus, inspiration lies a little closer to home. Her "teacher and idol" is her mum.

"I really appreciate how devoted my mother has been to my education while also caring care of our family, including my two siblings. So I keep on reaching to show my gratitude," said the former vice-president of the Student Council.

Lotus has dreams of becoming a doctor for Medecins Sans Frontieres.

"I want to travel abroad and help people in developing countries," she said. Winning SOTY, she added, has encouraged her to "hold onto [her] values" and made her more determined than ever to pursue her dream.

Harbour School student Ignacio is the youngest winner in the Best Devotion to School Award at 16, but he has already co-founded his own children's rights organisation,Voice of the Informed Children, as well as being a member of his school's Student Council.

"I try to bridge the gap between children and adults," he explained.

Ignacio told YP he has been blown away by the "collective spirit" of everyone involved in the awards. With his "eyes opened and heart elevated", he will continue to serve his school after he graduates.

"The award did not signify the end nor the result; in stark contrast, it signified the very beginning." The Student of the Year Awards are organised by Young Post in conjunction with South China Morning Post and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey club with support from the Education Bureau.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge