Tam Pok-man was named the first grand prize winner of the relaunchedSouth China Morning Post Student of the Year competition yesterday, in a dazzling ceremony at the Kowloon Shangri-La hotel. Judges praised Pok-man's humble attitude, enthusiasm, and his outstanding academic achievements, especially in the field of physics.
"He's an ordinary student, but he's worked so hard to become who he is now: someone extraordinary," said Jolie Chow Mei-kwan, the grand prize winner in 2002, who was also impressed by Pok-man's modesty.
"And not only does he strive to seek extensive knowledge in physics, a subject he loves, but he also has remarkable achievements in music and sports. It's everything he's got, really," she said.
Pok-man, 17, is a Form Six student at Sing Yin Secondary School. He was nominated by teachers as an outstanding student, who excels not only in the classroom - both in sciences and the arts - but also on the sports field, as a musician, and as a crusader for the environment and a keen volunteer.
Pok-man has a true passion for physics. He has represented Hong Kong in international competitions, winning a silver medal in the 44th International Physics Olympiad, a bronze medal in the 14th Asian Physics Olympiad, and was the first runner-up in the 30th Hong Kong Mathematics Olympiad.
But he has also won awards outside of his main area of interest: a certificate of outstanding achievement in the Bible speaking category of the 64th Hong Kong Schools Speech Festival; a silver award in the Hong Kong Youth Music Interflows 2012; and the Creative Poster award in the 16th Wu Chien Shing Science Camp Creative Poster Contest.
Pok-man is also dedicated to community services, and has been a committee member of both Hong Kong Green Youth Ambassador 2012 and Sing Yin Pioneers, the school's student-run guidance organisation.
The judges said all the entrants were impressive, and narrowing it down to the final three had been an insurmountable task. However, Pok-man deserved the ultimate honour, they said, because of his strong passion for the science subject.
Pok-man said: "I think the reason I won was because I had a more solid future plan and dream." The excited Form Six student said he had always wanted to research room temperature superconductors, a vision which he shared with the panel judges during the interviews.
Basically, Pok-man explained, superconductors are objects that have zero electrical resistance. Suddenly turning serious, he said: "But with the current technology, all superconductors only work in super low temperatures.
"My dream is to delve deeper into the topic, and hopefully one day, not only invent a room temperature conductor, but also find a more approachable theory to explain this subject matter, and share it with others."
He said the Student of the Year awards opened his eyes to many possibilities, and made him understand that although his passion for physics was limitless, he also had to improve his skills and knowledge in other areas.
SCMP Student of the Year ran from 1974 to 2006. After a seven-year hiatus, they were relaunched in conjunction with SCMP's 110th anniversary, as part of the Celebrating Hong Kong campaign. Sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club, the awards are one of the most prestigious annual secondary school events. Recognising and rewarding the achievements of senior-level students in six categories, the Student of the Year Awards celebrate the brightest young leaders of tomorrow.
Check out who the other seven winners are here!