The AmCham Charitable Foundation presents scholarship and awards in recognition of local students for their exceptional academic records and achievements in leadership and community service. In 2016, three full-time MBA candidates, four high school graduates who will be attending university in the US and 20 secondary school students are named winners of AmCham’s Scholar Awards, Lyn Edinger US Studies Scholarship, and Prize Book Awards
By Kenny Lau
Stephen Cheung and his family moved from Hong Kong to Canada when he was only nine. “Although I didn’t speak English at the time, I really enjoyed the new surrounding and quickly adapted to the new environment,” he says. “And I found my passion to explore unfamiliar places and try new things. This is evident when I moved to work in San Diego after receiving my undergraduate degree in Canada.”
As a part-time student for a Master’s degree in Engineering at UC San Diego while working in a full-time job, Cheung remained active in extracurricular activities and picked up a few hobbies including wakeboarding, kiteboarding and motorcycle riding. “Socrates’ philosophy of lifelong-learning has always inspired me, and it’s a major reason for my desire to take on new challenges,” he says. “Pursuing an MBA degree is my current challenge.”
Having worked as an engineer for a number of years, Cheung believes technology can only thrive with a solid business plan or sound strategic management. “As such, I got motivated to becoming a strategy or management consultant. I decided to go for an MBA degree at HKUST in order to gain the necessary business skills, and I took my endeavor to Hong Kong because it’s a commercial hub in the Asia Pacific region.”
The experience of an MBA program has been absolutely rewarding, he adds. “It is vastly different than engineering, and it has been an eye-opening experience to see the world in a completely different way. With my MBA degree, I’m looking forward to a new career and an exciting journey ahead.”
Flora Xu, The University of Hong Kong
A graduate of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology with a double major in Professional Accounting and Finance, and a minor in Social Science, Flora Xu is no stranger to the world of investment banking where for four years she not only exceled in pitching products across different asset classes and onboarding clients but was also heavily involved in providing extensive coverage of the largest banks, sovereign wealth funds and other commercial entities in the Greater China region.
Because of her extreme fluency in English and Putonghua as well as Cantonese, Xu played a critical role on multiple occasions in providing translation and interpretation for senior executives in high-level meetings with Chinese clients and investors at the investment firm where she worked. And because of her outgoing personality, she was selected to organize and supervise events for summer analysts with programs designed to provide interns with a better understanding of the asset management industry.
Xu is notable for her vast interest in extracurricular activities during her high school and undergraduate years, particularly her participation in debate competitions and as a student leader in several “ambassador” programs. She is full of ambitions regarding her life-long goals. “The reason I decided to take an MBA at the University of Hong Kong is that I am inspired to start my own business,” she explains.
“With the dynamic environment and international exposure, Hong Kong is the perfect place to start,” she says. “Together with two of my MBA classmates, I am preparing the launch of a new language teaching app, to help working professionals improve their language skills. The MBA program has equipped me with important knowledge and a network of like-minded individuals, and we are aiming to expand the app to other places in the world in the near future.”
Alvin So, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Alvin So has worked for a few years as an engineer at a large US multinational manufacturer of family, personal and household care products, taking part not only in the research and development of consumer items designed for daily use but also in multi-functional teams to meet stringent industrial requirements of products throughout the manufacturing process.
In his role, So was able to serve with different regional R&D teams around the globe to ensure products meet the needs of local consumers in the markets of the UK, Mexico, Belgium, Singapore, Japan and China. In fact, he was owner of projects in the creation of new household care products specifically for the market of China, collaborating with a team of scientists based in the US and managing testing facilities and personnel in Beijing.
On a mission to search for – and ultimately apply – opportunities to improve lab facilities and their capabilities, So helped develop various testing methods through data modeling and process simulation, and partook in setting quality requirements for product manufacturing before production began. In addition, he worked closely with his counterparts in the marketing and finance departments for the adoption of strategies to ensure the profitability of products.
On top of his professional achievements, So believes “it is important that we continue to encourage students to not only become future business leaders, but also to become future community leaders. That is, to run business that is ethical and at the same time continue to give back to society. The world is extremely interconnected and we must plot our path such that everyone will benefit from our actions.”
Lyn Edinger Studies Scholarship
Laurice Wong, Diocesan Girls School
A top student with a “vibrant personality, intellectual curiosity, worldly knowledge and friendly disposition,” Laurice Wong has exceled in the classroom of Diocesan Girls’ School, embracing “one of the toughest combination of classes” where she was never afraid to raise questions and could lead a discussion with unique perspectives. Few can match “the sheer depth of her knowledge and natural thirst to expand it.”
Yet, Wong’s achievements went far beyond: she was a House Captain, Assistant Head Girl, Editor of the school magazine, a delegate of the Columbia Model UN Conference, and a choral singer who designed the dress for her school’s choir in preparation for the 8th World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia in 2014. Above all, she is an individual of compassion always looking to provide for the disadvantaged through community projects.
Wong has rightfully earned a place as an incoming freshman at Columbia University in the City of New York this fall. “I have always felt a strong compulsion to serve the community where I belong,” Wong says. “My aspiration to pursue an undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science is my attempt to realize my philosophy of simultaneous liberalism and realpolitik through academic understanding.”
“I hope to bring fresher insights on dissent, tolerance and compromise back to Hong Kong, and to implement the principles of negotiation and diplomacy into our polarized political atmosphere,” she adds.
“The issue of income disparity and socioeconomic privilege is another pressing concern of our society, and it speaks to me dearly,” Wong reveals. “I am determined to return and serve Hong Kong by first gaining practical experience in the private sector of consultancy, then eventually entering civil service to formulate policies for a more egalitarian society.”
Ji Min Kang, Chinese International School
Born in Korea and raised in Hong Kong, Ji Min Kang is “exceptional, original, excellent, insightful, active, energetic, positive, engaging, responsible, dedicated, focused, articulate, collaborative, wonderful and genial,” and that’s how teachers at Chinese International School describe “her attitude towards the world she inhabits and her constant, self-driven quest for knowledge and new challenges.” She will be attending Princeton University.
Kang is among the top half a percent of all IB Diploma students worldwide to have achieved the maximum score of 45 points. But she is far more than mere academic achievement: she plays field hockey and competes in rowing, is a Korean Janggu drummer, and has participated in the World Scholar’s Cup and organized a Human Rights Week; she was Head Girl, President of Interact Club, Chief Editor of CIS’s magazine and a leader of the Kids4Kids program.
“I’ve cultivated my love of the world through both the spoken and written word, in languages including Korean, English, Mandarin, Spanish, a little bit of French and a dabbling of many others,” Kang says. “I’ve debated in countries like Lithuania and Turkey, and written poetry about my experiences. My main goal in life is to be an authentically global citizen: an individual who not only has seen, but also understands, the world through a myriad of different perspectives.”
“As a current applicant to the Princeton Bridge Year Program, I’m hoping to spend nine months before my freshman year doing community service in either Bolivia or Brazil. In my junior year, I’ll aim for the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs,” she further says. “Over the next four years, I want to learn alongside people from a whole host of different cultures and, of course, to experience these cultures for myself.”
Nicholas Chiu, Diocesan Boys’ School
The “golden egg” stature of the Hong Kong Science Park is a reminder of the time when Nicholas Chiu “was left in awe and excitement” about an exhibition on stem cells research. “It represents the potential to divide, differentiate, and specialize, and it resonates with my dream of becoming a researcher working there and discovering the possibility of stem cells applications in treating neurodegenerative diseases,” he says.
Chiu is “naturally gifted and intelligent, but his success is also the result of an unerring work ethic and exemplary time management and organizational skills.” He was a member of DBS’s Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Society and an exploratory science study group called Destination Imagination. He helped found a student-led community service group named “Experimentors” through which he and his fellow classmates provided “disadvantaged” students with guided lab experiments.
Chiu will be attending Columbia University. “With state-of-the-art lab facilities, a legacy of excellence in neurobiology and a focus on undergraduate research, I see myself developing further in this field and continuing through graduate school, and I also see myself playing an active part in Environmental Biology after having initiated research on alginate biosorption of heavy metal ions in Hong Kong and having spent two summers on an ecological study of the Ting Kok mangrove.”
“I have been captivated by the meticulous detail of life ever since I saw a glimpse of a tarantula’s DNA on an electropherogram,” he adds. “I hope to bring back the knowledge and skills I’ll develop through my studies in the US, and I want to share my passion with others. And I’ll never forget how I was introduced to the world of scientific research and how the ‘golden egg’ has reinforced my passion.”
Jeffrey He, Hong Kong International School
Academically, there is no question about Jeffrey He’s drive towards excellence. Of 900 graduating seniors in the past five years, he is among a handful of students to graduate with a perfect 4.0 GPA, “having maxed out the recommended number of AP classes and furthered his education on his own by taking MOOCs from top schools in the United States.”
He is certainly among the very best: a member of the Ambassador Program and of the National Honor Society, an editor for the school newspaper, an active participant of Model United Nations, an elected student leader, a varsity volleyball player, and one of the best violinists the school has ever had. He is “intelligent, athletic, and a team player,” and is notable for his ability to see perspective – one of his greatest strengths.
In serving the community, he is equally strong: a math and science tutor for his peers, a leader of “Service on Saturday” taking over the English teaching program, and a director for one of the two largest service clubs on campus. He is also the creator of two websites, HKIS Talent and Stories of Yesterday, dedicated to the community of HKIS.
This fall, he will be a freshman at Harvard University where he plans to major in Economics and Computer Science.
“Exposure to economics in high school has already led me to see the day-to-day dynamics of society differently,” He points out. “When I ask for volunteers to help with a bake sale, I think of diminishing marginal utility – more people in the group results in lower overall productivity. When I prepare for exams, I think of opportunity cost – more time spent on one subject is at the cost of time available for another.”
“When I use my iPhone to facetime a friend, I think about the network effects, and how the iOS user base of nearly a billion increases the value of an Apple device,” he adds. “When I look up directions to a new place, I think of Dijkstra’s algorithm, which generates the shortest path on maps. Ultimately, both economics and computer science span across a wide range of applications in day-to-day life and are interconnected with one another.”
“While economics as a traditional field will give me a greater understanding of society and its inefficiencies, computer science will provide me with tools I can use to address the unmet needs of society,” he believes. “Whether I end up forming an algorithm like Dijkstra’s or programming CPUs to make appliances more energy-efficient, I believe the two fields will equip me with the strongest skillset to make a real impact in the future.”
Prize Book Awards
For 30 years, AmCham’s Charitable Foundation has worked closely with 20 or more high schools in honoring students who have demonstrated a combination of academic excellence, achievement in community service and leadership in a variety of projects both inside and outside of the classroom.
It is an annual educational incentive scheme to recognize the accomplishments of students in Hong Kong and to promote AmCham’s objectives of contributing to the education system of Hong Kong. Each student is presented with a HK$1,000 book coupon, a certificate of achievement and a set of The Americans, a trilogy by Daniel Boorstin.