Excellence reaps rewards

Excellence reaps rewards

Hong Kong student's appetite for knowledge brings international recognition

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Janus Wong will study at Harvard next month after being selected as a winner of the Innovation and Technology Scholarship Award Scheme 2012.
Janus Wong will study at Harvard next month after being selected as a winner of the Innovation and Technology Scholarship Award Scheme 2012.
Photo: Thomas Yau/SCMP
Hong Kong student Janus Wong Siu-him's curiosity for learning and enthusiasm for science projects set him apart from his peers from a young age. "I like science because it helps me to understand the universe and appreciate the world around us," says Wong, 20, a second year medical student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

He was only 12, and studying in Primary Six at Diocesan Preparatory School, when he designed a model for a climbing wheelchair for his late grandfather.

"In the two years before he died, he was in a wheelchair," Wong says. "I remember how difficult it was for my grandmother to take him out."

His wheelchair was made from cardboard, with a canopy and retractable gear to allow it to climb up stairs. The invention won him first place in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Youth Science and Technology Invention Competition and second place in the national China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest.

Wong joined Diocesan Boys' School for his secondary studies. He obtained nine distinctions in the 2009 HKCEE, which led him to being named one of 10 outstanding secondary students in Hong Kong. The following year, as one of the top 30 HKCEE candidates, he was awarded a scholarship by the Hong Kong government.

But his success did not come from working mindlessly through past exam papers.

"I don't believe in drilling. But I love to read and I can read up to seven books a month. I've learned most things from the books I read before [the topics] were taught in the classroom," he says.

Wong's outstanding achievements caught the eye of a prestigious US university. "Right after the HKCEE, I received a letter from Harvard inviting me to study there," he says. "I don't know how they found me, but I felt very honoured."

However, his mind was set on pursuing a medical degree at HKU. "The five-year curriculum here is three years shorter than in the US, with the guarantee of a local medical licence upon graduation," he says.

However, Harvard is still in the picture. Wong will have a chance to study there next month, after being selected as one of the 25 winners of the Innovation and Technology Scholarship Award Scheme 2012.

The scheme was organised by The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and sponsored by the government's Innovation and Technology Commission and The Hongkong Bank Foundation. It honours local university students for their outstanding achievements in academic and community services. Wong did not have to think twice about opting for a two-month programme at Harvard.

"I want to study astronomy and also Latin which I can't study in Hong Kong," he says. "I look forward to meeting different people there and learning from their different perspectives."

The scholarship also includes a golden opportunity to be mentored by public health expert Dr Ko Wing-man, director of Hong Kong Red Cross and chairman of the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society.

"I can't wait to meet Dr Ko. I can learn such a lot from him, especially his experience in crisis management during the Sars outbreak [in 2003]," Wong says.

He is proud of his achievements, but knows this is just the beginning. "There is a whole world out there I don't understand and want to learn about," he says.

"Hong Kong students are too obsessed with examination results. Learning should be for our enjoyment. We should read more, explore more, learn more."

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