Parting Words to My Alma Mater

Text:Debby Seng, Senior UM Reporter Winnie Li  │ Photo:Editorial Board, with some provided by the interviewees  │  ISSUE 89  May 2019  My UM

Graduation is just around the corner. The fresh graduates will soon start a new chapter in their lives. In this issue, we interview several students who will graduate soon. They reminisce about their university days and share parting words for their alma mater.

Mandy He found her direction in college

‘Thanks for making me into who I am today.’

Mandy He, a fourth-year student of financial controllership and a member of Lui Che Woo College, says that joining the Honours College (HC) has had a profound influence on her. During the first three years at UM, she worked hard for good grades but lacked a clear direction. In the third year, she studied for one semester in the United States through an exchange programme offered by the HC. It was during that time that she finally found a direction for her future. She says, ‘Whenever I encountered a challenge, I would remind myself that rising up to the challenges in life is a necessary part of growing up, so I became more active in class and took part in the various activities organised by the university and my faculty, which were designed to foster links with the local community. In the process, I gradually found my direction.’  As for her parting words for UM, Mandy says, ‘Thanks for your endless support and tolerance. Thanks for making me into who I am today.’

Velonica Huang (3rd from left) and her teammates on the UM Mandarin Debating Team win the championship at the International Chinese Debating Competition

Wishing UM a Better Future

Velonica Huang, a student in the Bachelor of Science in Integrated Resort and Tourism Management programme and a member of the Stanley Ho East Asia College, has represented UM at various debate competitions and won many awards. Last year, she and her teammates on the UM Mandarin Debating Team won the championship at the International Chinese Debating Competition, which she says was one of the most unforgettable experiences of her college life.

Aside from debates, Huang has participated in various other competitions representing UM student organisations. She feels thankful that UM provides many opportunities and resources to help students gain international experience. She says, ‘During the exchange programme, I realised that UM is very similar to American universities in terms of academic system and how teaching is conducted. Compared to studying at mainland universities, I think studying at UM gives students a better chance of studying abroad after graduation.’

Huang has witnessed UM’s changes over the past four years, and she is impressed by the university’s dynamism and enterprising spirit. ‘I hope my alma mater and I will both become better and better after my graduation,’ she says.

Brook Tan studies Portuguese at the University of Coimbra in Portugal

Working Extra Hard to Repay the Alma Mater

Five years ago, Brook Tan was admitted to UM’s inaugural five-year bilingual bachelor of law programme with exam exemption. Having lived in Chao Kuang Piu College for five years, she says she has acquired legal knowledge with local characteristics, and she believes that few other universities have law professors who are proficient in both Chinese and Portuguese. The five years in college have helped Tan gain a better understanding of herself. ‘Now I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I also know how to be a better law practitioner,’ she says.

Asked about the most memorable experience at UM, she says, ‘In 2014, Prof Chen-Ning Franklin Yang, an honorary doctor of UM and a Nobel laureate, came to UM to give a lecture. I was in my final year of high school and I had the privilege of attending the lecture and taking a photo with Prof Yang. That experience made me very excited, and I figured studying at UM would give me many chances to meet masters in various fields, like Prof Yang. Several months later, I became a student at UM.’ Actually, Tan’s ties with UM run deeper than that. Her father, Tam Sik Chung, is an associate professor in the Faculty of Science and Technology and the associate master of Lui Che Woo College. Tan grew up at UM and thinks of UM as her home. ‘I feel very proud about UM’s rapid development in recent years. I will work extra hard to repay UM for its education,’ she says.

Andy Tou has a strong interest in performing arts

Thankful to Teachers and Friends

Andy Tou, a fourth-year student in the Department of English and a member of Choi Kai Yau College (CKYC), believes that taking advantage of UM’s resources to develop his strengths is a good way to make the most of the college years. During his spare time, this versatile young man studies multiple languages, including Portuguese, Japanese, and Spanish. He also dabbles in street dance and is a member of the cheerleading team in his RC, where he became good friends with many students who share his passion for dancing.

As graduation is approaching, Tou most wants to thank all the members of the cheerleading team, his dance instructors, and the resident fellows in the RC. ‘They have all played an important role in my college life. They have given me a lot of support and encouragement.’ He is also grateful to the professors in the Department of English for their patient guidance and useful advice on further studies.

Tou is especially thankful for the opportunities provided by his alma mater. He says, ‘As long as you are willing to explore, you will find that UM offers a lot of valuable things. Had I not chosen to study at UM, I probably would not have had the same experiences and memories.’

Tracy Chung (middle) has learned how to get along with people from different cultures

Discovering a Different Self

Tracy Chung, a fourth-year student in the Department of Mathematics, was a member of the Lui Che Woo College House Association and the UM Symphonic Band, as well as a founding member of the Chamber Music Association.

In the RC, Chung shares a bathroom with a student from East Timor, who lives next door. Chung says having to share a bathroom with a student who does not speak Chinese forced her to leave her comfort zone. For instance, Chung studied in a Chinese high school, so when she first came to UM, she was not accustomed to speaking English. But because she had to use English when communicating with the East Timorese student, she had to speak the language even though she was not good at it. As a result, her English improved quickly. As they grew to know each other better, Chung learned how to get along with people from different cultures and felt more motivated to learn more about the world through foreign languages. She says, ‘The student taught me Portuguese, and shared what her life was like in her hometown. Spending time with foreign students makes me want to know more about the world.’

She adds, ‘UM makes me want to step out of my comfort zone. At first it was not easy, but after a while, I gained far more than I had imagined. I want to thank UM for helping me discover a different self.’

Graduating students