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    The Standard: Top students at YCIS share their journey to elite universities and beyond


    28 Jan, 2022

    10 : 00

    • Yew Chung International School (YCIS) has always placed strong emphasis on helping students gain a competitive edge and maximise their chances of success with university applications, through the support rendered by its Careers and University Guidance Office (CUGO). This year is no exception. Among the many successful applicants, three YCIS students – Jasmine Chan, Ermina Shahid and Nga Sze Wong – have received early offers to pursue Medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In addition, Derun Li, another YCIS student, has received an offer to study Physics at the University of Oxford.

      Jasmine Chan

      Reflecting on her university application process, Jasmine is particularly grateful for the mock interviews arranged by CUGO. “We covered a broad range of questions during the mock interviews, which helped me identify and focus my preparation on areas of medicine that I was less familiar with,” she explains. “As such, I was able to develop effective responses that were clear, concise and direct.”

      Aside from content preparation, the mock interviews were crucial in helping Jasmine adopt the right mindset for the actual interview. “I stuttered a lot during my mock interviews as I was extremely nervous. Yet Mr Strong, my CUGO counsellor was very supportive and coached me on how to compose myself,” she continues. “His advice, together with repeated practice, bolstered my performance in the actual interview and I was able to let my passion for Medicine shine through.”

      Jasmine also appreciates the opportunity offered by YCIS to join Seeds of Hope, a service-learning co-curricular programme, as it was invaluable to her university application. Through the programme, Jasmine had the experience of observing and assisting in childbirth at a local clinic in the Philippines. “One incident that stood out for me was when one baby came out unable to breathe. It was a very dangerous situation that required urgent care, but as the clinic did not have the necessary equipment, the doctors had to send her to a city hospital instead,” she recalls.

      “This gave me a greater appreciation of the importance and immense responsibility of doctors, especially in life-or-death situations. I also realised the significance of team work in the medical field,” says Jasmine. Furthermore, having witnessed first-hand the healthcare challenges faced by less developed countries, Jasmine hopes to join Medicins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) in the future to deliver quality medical service to more people in these areas.

      Ermina Shahid

      For Ermina, the supportive environment of YCIS has empowered her to successfully meet the demands of both the IB curriculum and the highly competitive university admissions process. “Year 12 and Year 13 can be a very stressful time for us. Alongside university applications, we also have to focus on internal tests and exams, as well as on Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS) projects, the Extended Essay and the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course,” she elucidates. “Thankfully, our teachers understand the pressures we face and make judicious work allocations, giving us sufficient time and resources for revision.”

      The school also conducts surveys to better understand any stress students may face. Those requiring emotional support are welcome to meet with social workers and counsellors at YCIS. “They are always at hand to support us, such as allowing time off during the school day to see a counsellor, to ensure that we receive help when needed,” adds Ermina.

      Additionally, Ermina believes that YCIS’s emphasis on raising globally competent and compassionate servant leaders has equipped her with the qualities essential to becoming a good doctor. “The four pillars of medical ethics correspond well to the YCIS principles instilled in us since kindergarten,” she explains. “This has enabled us to grow into individuals who are always conscious of our thoughts and actions.”

      YCIS also offers students many opportunities to do community service. “Volunteering in places such as elderly homes and minority children’s centres has allowed me to hone my social skills and develop a greater sense of empathy,” she notes. “These qualities are crucial to the medical profession since doctors have to be able to interact and help people in difficult situations.”

      Ermina considers it a great joy and privilege to study Medicine as she believes that health is the biggest blessing that a person can have. She looks forward to becoming a doctor to offer more people the priceless gift of wellbeing.

      Nga Sze Wong

      From the very beginning, CUGO has played a large role in Nga Sze’s career aspiration of becoming a doctor. “I remember back in Year 10 and Year 11, CUGO gave us aptitude tests, such as Fast Tomato, to help us explore different career possibilities. Results from multiple tests indicated that I was best suited to a career in radiology, which contributed to the realisation that I wanted to study Medicine in the future,” she recounts.

      Nga Sze’s decision to study Medicine was also influenced by her personal experience of having undergone life-saving surgery in one of the hospitals in Hong Kong at a young age. Grateful for healthcare that the city has provided to her, she hopes to give back to society by becoming a doctor in order to improve people’s health and enhance their living standards.

      During the process of applying to medical schools, Nga Sze highlights the exceptional support given to her by CUGO, especially when writing her personal statements. “Ms Seet, my CUGO counsellor, was very patient and thorough in guiding me through the changes I had to make to my drafts to ensure that they are succinct and relevant,” she expounds. “She not only reviewed my drafts during school hours, but also after school and over the weekends.”

      To attain the grades necessary to pursue a degree in Medicine, Nga Sze emphasises the importance of doing past papers, as it helps students structure their answers effectively to maximise their marks. They should also be proactive and ask questions in order to acquire a thorough understanding of all the topics.

      Derun Li

      Derun’s decision to pursue physics at a higher level was sparked by an announcement for the Hong Kong Physics Olympiad nine years ago. Hoping to participate in the competition, he began self-studying the competition syllabus, which enhanced his interest and aptitude for the subject. Having achieved stellar results in the competition year after year, including a first honour award in 2021, he was selected to attend the prestigious Physics Enhancement Programme for Gifted Students offered by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

      “In the programme, I was introduced to many complicated physics phenomena and the theories behind them. The importance and applicability of physics, whether in understanding more about the universe or in technologies in our daily life, makes studying the subject meaningful to me,” he expresses.

      Having grown up in Mainland China, Derun initially found it difficult to adjust to YCIS’s English learning environment when he first joined the school in Year 7. Hence, Derun is grateful for the English Intensive Programme (EIP) offered by YCIS, as it helped him develop the language skills needed to excel academically. Notably, he was given the English award for attaining significant improvements in English.

      Besides language support, Derun also received encouragement and guidance from YCIS in his university applications. “Throughout the process of writing my personal statement, CUGO counsellors gave me clear explanations and valuable feedback. I was impressed by how patient they were as I submitted more than 10 revisions,” he explains. “CUGO was also very helpful when it came to writing my reference letter, which was crucial to my application at Oxford.”

      “I would also like to thank all my teachers, especially Ms Linda Lagunzad Poon (Physics) and Mr Edmund Kam (Maths), for their time and effort in answering all my questions, as well as their unwavering support throughout my academic journey at YCIS,” Derun continues.

      For students looking to apply to Physics at Oxbridge, Derun recommends joining competitions as it allows them to effectively showcase both their academic aptitude and in-depth knowledge of the subject. They must also do self-study on areas beyond the IB syllabus to demonstrate their interest and ability in critically engaging with complex ideas at a higher level. 

      Looking ahead, CUGO is committed to continuing its mission of placing each student in a university that matches their academic, personal, and social growth needs. With the professional expertise of six highly-experienced University Guidance Counsellors, CUGO is confident in its ability to maintain an impressive university placement rate of 100%. 

      Written by Glory Chan, The Standard
      Extracted from The Standard - Education on 28 Jan 2022