HKDSE results were released yesterday and while many students may have felt fragile and nervous as they awaited their scores, Cherry Ho Cheuk-wing from Christian and Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Secondary School is literally fragile.
Cherry was diagnosed with brittle bone disease at birth, and has been to the hospital more than 20 times for checkups and surgery. But that certainly hasn’t stopped her from staying strong in body and mind, and giving her all in her academics.
Her determination to succeed has made up for her illness, as her impressive HKDSE results show – 5** in Chinese language, 5*s in English language, liberal studies, and Chinese history, and two 5s in mathematics and economics. “I was very pleased with my results, of course,” says Cherry. “After the first rush of happiness came a wave of gratitude for everyone who supported me throughout my secondary school education.”
Naturally, her gratitude extends to her parents who played a huge role in guiding her, and encouraging her to develop her independence. Her school’s willingness to cooperate and provide solutions to work around her disability has also been instrumental in her academic achievements.
Thanks to her school’s barrier-free environment and the arrangements made by the school authorities, Cherry says she had no problem fitting in and receiving all the support she needed.
For example, “my school prepared a locker right next to my desk for me so I wouldn’t have to move around in my wheelchair to get my lesson materials,” Cherry explains. Her primary school was also very understanding and accommodating, allowing Cherry’s mother to sit outside her classroom during lessons in case anything happened.
When Cherry had to stay in hospital for nearly six months in Form Three, her teachers recorded their lessons so she could keep up.
“My illness was never a hindrance to my growth,” Cherry stresses. “Yes, there are physical things I can’t do, but it doesn’t impact my learning that much, and that’s what matters”.
In fact, Cherry believes she wouldn’t have been motivated to work as hard as she does if not for her illness. Brittle bone disease means Cherry gets tired very easily, but she managed to balance rest periods with her daily revision. Not once did she think of giving up; she thinks it’s her responsibility to do her best to repay all those who believed in her.
Cherry’s principal, Dr Poon Suk-han, says they are not surprised by her results given her performance at school.
“Cherry has always been independent and conscientious about learning. Even when I visited her in hospital, she was revising her school notes in bed,” Poon says.
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Like any HKDSE student, Cherry was stressed before results release day, and couldn’t sleep for two nights. It was a huge relief when she got her scores.
“I think stress is inevitable for secondary students,” Cherry says. But she adds that academic achievements do not make or break a person. She wants her peers to hold their heads high even if their results are poor. “We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we all have a different path we are meant to take. There will always be a way out,” she says.
Cherry’s results were more or less within her expectations, and she hopes to study law to help people with similar disabilities.
“I think with my experiences I can better understand the needs of socially vulnerable groups and be able to help them just as others have helped me,” she said.