As clichéd as it may sound, the expression “perseverance is the key to success” really is true, and five award-winning students each have a story to tell which proves it.
Chan Chiu-ki, Lam Man-hon, Cheung Yuen, Lai Ho-ching, and Dong Mei-fung, who all won the 2017 SCMP Student of the Year (SOTY) Best Improvement award, have made huge progress in recent years.
“Changing your mindset is the most important thing when it comes to improving yourself,” Chan, 18, told Young Post.
Success is bound to come to those who have faith in their abilities, resist temptations, overcome hardships, and are determined to meet their objectives, he said.
In Form Three, the student from Society of Boys’ Centres Hui Chung Sing Memorial School discovered an interest in cycling and that changed his life. “I took part in some mountain biking competitions to challenge myself, and set a goal for myself to become a part of the Hong Kong team,” he said.
To achieve this, Chan quit his unhealthy lifestyle, and stopped staying out late. Accidents and injuries during training were inevitable, he said, but they only served to motivate him more. “My parents have become more supportive of me after witnessing my hard work, which has helped improve my relationship with them.”
Boccia player Cheung, 19, agreed that support from family, friends, and teammates was crucial for her success. “No matter what happens, I always have their support,” said the student from Hong Kong Red Cross Princess Alexandra School.
Cheung, who joined the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled in 2014, said she developed a competitive mindset after she failed to qualify for the 2017 Boccia National Championships. “My coach scolded me for not trying my best to prepare for the championships and for not taking it seriously enough … since then, I’ve become more hardworking and focused during practice.”
Her strong desire to win international competitions has driven her to work on her weaknesses.
“There were times when I was told off by my coach for not meeting his requirements, and I lost miserably in competitions because I was too confident,” she said. Still, the perseverance she developed from practising boccia has helped her overcome all kinds of hurdles in life, including her studies.
Lai, 19, said she used to be passive and quiet, but that this changed after she made friends with some of her classmates in Form Four. At the time, she was returning to school after a leave of absence.
“They already had their own social circles but they were very welcoming to me,” said the former Good Hope School student.“They invited me to sit with them at lunch, and took notes for me when I was off.”
Inspired by her peers’ enthusiasm, she has learned to be more proactive in every aspect of her life. “A lot of times our deep sense of insecurity comes from the fear of new things and unfamiliarity,” said Lai, who is now studying at City University. Still, once you’ve successfully broken out of your comfort zone, she added, you begin to realise that things are much easier and simpler to do than you’d imagined.
Dong, 21, has also had somewhat of a confidence boost in the past year. “I’ve learned to be bold and express myself,” she said. The student from Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial College said things started to change for her after she summoned up the courage to sign up for her first school hiking event. “At the beginning, the hike was painful, but I eventually became a more self-assured and energetic and happy person … especially after reaching the summit of the highest mountain in Hong Kong [Tai Mo Shan]. I challenged myself to do it and I succeeded.”
Now, whenever she feels like giving up on something, she thinks back to the tiring, energy-sapping climbs. “I tell myself that if I could overcome the heat and the steep hiking trails, any other struggles are no big deal.”
Lam, 18, said he believes in the importance of taking charge of your own life. “If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more,” he said, quoting local actor Nick Cheung’s line in film Unbeatable.
The PAOC Ka Chi Secondary School student said the death of his father six years ago transformed him from a lazy person into a diligent and motivated young adult. “My teachers’ encouragement played an important role in my journey. It made me grow, gave me the courage to confront obstacles and challenges, and taught me to never give up.” Lam added that readers should “seize every opportunity to grow”.
“There are no second takes in life,” he said. “Also, remember that nothing is impossible; it all depends on whether you are willing to give it a go or not.”