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
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