Phi­lan­thropy

Three Hong Kong high-fly­ers tell Madeleine Ross of the schol­ar­ship fund they founded to give the city’s less for­tu­nate the chance of a world-class ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion at their alma mater

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

Three Hong Kong high-fly­ers de­tail the schol­ar­ship fund they founded to give the city’s less for­tu­nate the chance of a world-class ed­u­ca­tion at their alma mater

WHAT, YOU MAY ASK, DO POWER­BRO­KERS ROSANNA WONG, PA­TRICK FUNG AND DAISY HO HAVE IN COM­MON—ASIDE FROM SPADES OF IN­FLU­ENCE? THEY UN­DER­TOOK THEIR TER­TIARY ED­U­CA­TION IN CANADA AT THE UNIVER­SITY OF TORONTO.

All three con­fess to be­ing wildly stu­dious dur­ing their years on cam­pus. “I’d say I spent 80 per cent of my time in the li­brary and the other 20 per cent at church,” says Rosanna, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Hong Kong Fed­er­a­tion of Youth Groups, who was granted a schol­ar­ship to do a Mas­ter of So­cial Work and grad­u­ated in 1979. “I loved study­ing and I al­ways wanted to do more.”

Pa­trick, who un­der­took a Bach­e­lor of Ap­plied Science as well as an MBA in Toronto, thinks he may have been a lit­tle too dili­gent. “Look­ing back, I think I should have done more out­side of class—im­proved my EQ in­stead of just my IQ. Pass­ing ex­ams is im­por­tant but the univer­sity is very

mul­ti­cul­tural and has so much to of­fer in terms of ex­tra cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.” Daisy, who com­pleted an MBA in 1990, re­mem­bers pulling nu­mer­ous all-nighters to se­cure stel­lar marks. As the deputy man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Shun Tak Hold­ings and the chair of the Hong Kong Bal­let, she’s cer­tainly put the skills she ac­quired at univer­sity to good use.

The time they spent in Toronto left such an im­pres­sion that, in 1995, the three alumni es­tab­lished the Univer­sity of Toronto (Hong Kong) Foun­da­tion, a schol­ar­ship fund that gives gifted stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to study at the il­lus­tri­ous institution. Since its in­cep­tion, the foun­da­tion has do­nated over HK$35 mil­lion for un­der­grad­u­ate schol­ar­ships. This year, it cel­e­brates its 20th an­niver­sary.

While the schol­ar­ships are awarded on aca­demic merit, they are also means tested. The foun­da­tion’s mis­sion is to pro­vide world­class ed­u­ca­tion to stu­dents who don’t have the fi­nan­cial re­sources to un­der­take such ter­tiary study in­de­pen­dently.

“Be­ing granted a schol­ar­ship is of­ten a com­pletely life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for th­ese young peo­ple,” says Daisy, who is chair of both the foun­da­tion board and the schol­ar­ship se­lec­tion com­mit­tee. “For many of them it’s the first time they have trav­elled out of Hong Kong. It can be a big chal­lenge for them, so we have to care­fully as­sess which stu­dents are up to it.”

The foun­da­tion has re­ceived more than 800 ap­pli­ca­tions and funded 70 schol­ar­ships since be­ing es­tab­lished. It awards four schol­ar­ships each year: one Fung Yiu King Me­mo­rial Commerce Schol­ar­ship for a de­gree in busi­ness or commerce, two Dr Cheng Yu-tung Schol­ar­ships for a de­gree in any dis­ci­pline, and one Univer­sity of Toronto

“A SCHOL­AR­SHIP IS OF­TEN A COM­PLETELY LIFE-CHANG­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE”

(Hong Kong) Foun­da­tion Schol­ar­ship, also for a de­gree in any dis­ci­pline. Each is worth more than HK$400,000, com­pa­ra­ble to sim­i­lar pro­grammes of­fered by highly re­spected uni­ver­si­ties world­wide, in­clud­ing Har­vard, MIT and Ox­ford.

The schol­ars who have had the good for­tune to at­tend the univer­sity through this pro­gramme have gone on to suc­cess­ful ca­reers in fi­nance, law, ed­u­ca­tion, engi­neer­ing and gov­ern­ment. “Ev­ery sin­gle stu­dent we have sent to the Univer­sity of Toronto has had a life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Daisy. “I’m so proud when­ever I see them graduate. It’s al­most like they’re my own chil­dren.”

But it’s not just aca­demic suc­cess that Rosanna, Pa­trick and Daisy want to en­cour­age. It’s also about nur­tur­ing well­rounded cit­i­zens. “We want stu­dents to get out of their com­fort zone,” says Pa­trick. “My ad­vice to th­ese gifted young peo­ple would be to get really in­volved in life on cam­pus. Don’t just stay with stu­dents who come from your home­town. Go­ing abroad is a chance to learn from peo­ple who come from dif­fer­ent cor­ners of the globe.”

nur­tur­ing minds Clock­wise from far left: the Univer­sity of Toronto cam­pus; Pa­trick Fung re­ceives an award in 2000 for his gen­eros­ity to the univer­sity; Daisy Ho with for­mer chan­cel­lor Vivi­enne Poy and univer­sity pres­i­dent Meric Gertler; Rosanna Wong in aca­demic gown circa 1999

Fond mem­o­ries This page from left: Pa­trick Fung; grad­u­a­tion day. Far right: Daisy Ho with gifted stu­dents on cam­pus

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