Eunice Yiu was named the grand prize winner in the South China Morning Post Student of the Year [SOTY] competition yesterday, in a spectacular ceremony at the Sheraton Hotel. Judges praise her strong leadership skills and her diverse range of interests, in particular her passion for science.
Judges say they appreciate Eunice’s dedication to all her interests, and the fact she has some clear goals for her future. South China Morning Post Training Editor, Joyce Murdoch says she was particularly impressed by Eunice’s personality and boundless energy.
Eunice is a Form Five student at St Paul's Convent School (Secondary Section). While she achieves excellent academic results in general, she has demonstrated a particular talent in science. She has won prizes in the Roche Young Scientist Award, Science and Technology Seedings 100 Plan, and the 1+1 Science Tip-Top Talent Scheme.
Her other achievements span public speaking, debating and dancing. She was one of both the Top Ten Hong Kong Island Outstanding Students, and the We Love Hong Kong Top 10 Model Teenagers in 2013. She is also passionate about doing a wide range of community service and volunteer activities.
SOTY judge Andy Ho Wing-cheong, deputy executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, has been impressed by the quality and standard of all the participants this year. “These young students really do have a passion for
Her love for science really began in Form Three. Tired of always getting bitten by insects when hiking, she wanted to buy an insect repellent but, reading the ingredients, realised that they were not as safe as advertised. She decided to investigate and research organic repellents so she could find a way to provide a safer solution. “I hope I can not only help people repel mosquitoes, but then also provide them a safer solution,” said Eunice.
She started by catching mosquitoes at home and putting them in boxes to examine their reaction to different plants, eventually detecting the chemicals in the plants that repel mosquitoes. Her research led to a scholarship from the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, and a chance to work in a laboratory with a university professor to develop a product.
Eunice also enjoys running, although it wasn’t love at first go – she doesn’t enjoy sweating. But, she says, “later I realised running is not only about maintaining good health, it’s about training your mind.” She applies this persistence to all elements of her life.
Speaking about how she plans to spend the SOTY scholarship money, Eunice says she has always wanted to start a social enterprise of her own, and she wants to dedicate it to the poverty problem in our city. “Not every child can receive the same opportunities at birth: some people who are richer might have more exposure to the outside world, while others can only afford basic education,” says Eunice. She plans to invite talented individuals, like her fellow SOTY competitors, to join her social enterprise and teach the less privileged.
Eunice says that the competition has been a “memorable experience”, since she has met a lot of very talented and clever people, and has been very inspired by them.
“When you join a lot of competitions… the purpose is not for the world to see how good you are, it’s for you to see the world and understand yourself better,” she says.
Watch Eunice's acceptance speech below
SCMP Student of the Year ran from 1974 to 2006. After a seven-year hiatus, it was relaunched last year in conjunction with SCMP’s 110th anniversary. 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 seven categories, the Student of the Year Awards celebrate the brightest young leaders of tomorrow.