There are many ways students in Hong Kong can be recognised for their achievements in fields like sports or the arts, but there are few awards that take all of a student’s accomplishments into account. The Student of the Year Grand Prize validates students’ hard work in all aspects of their lives, from school to the community, and beyond.
The award is known for drawing in some extraordinary talent, and this year has been no different – leaving the Grand Prize judges with their work cut out for them. Young Post spoke to the three judges to find out what they look for in a Grand Prize winner.
Tammy Tam, editor in chief of South China Morning Post, says that the Grand Prize rewards both hard work and the ability be a role model.
“The winning student will no doubt be a diligent learner – but they also need to stand apart as a leader who can inspire others.”
Tam adds that good grades aren’t always necessarily what make a good candidate.
“We don’t look solely at academic excellence, that’s just one facet. We also look at students’ focus on the future, their compassion in the community, and their care for Hong Kong.”
While Tam is one of the competition's veteran judges, joining the panel for the first time is Andy Ho, the executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups. Despite being a first-time judge for the Grand Prize, Ho has an idea of the traits he’s looking for in the candidates.
“I know that, nowadays, students do many activities, and can easily fill up pages and pages of what they have done,” he says. “I look for the ‘why’ they get involved in extracurricular activities and service. Is it because of personal ambition and self-promotion? Or does it reflect a wider concern and commitment to doing something for other people or the community?”
Then again, adds Ho, there is no set mould that a winner must fit.
“To be a good judge I think one has to be open-minded with no preconceived ideas or notions of what makes a perfect student of the year. Each application is different and all are outstanding. It is often something completely unexpected that will tip the balance in choosing one student over another.”
The third Grand Prize judge is Joseph Sung, professor of medicine and therapeutics at the Chinese University’s faculty of medicine. Sung says that being flexible and adaptable are two big indicators of future success.
“I believe that students who demonstrate academic and physical excellence, and communicate well are the ones that have the greatest future potential. They are more adaptive to change, more resilient to adversity, and more likely to be future leaders.”
Sung hopes that all the finalists, whether they win or not, will continue to try new things and test their limits.
“They should look further into the days and years ahead, they should broaden their horizons, and they should allow themselves to be exposed to challenges and failures, so that they can take on bigger challenges in the future.”
The Student of the Year Awards competition is organised by South China Morning Post and Young Post and sponsored by The Hong Kong Jockey Club.