Pakistani high-flyer named LU’s most distinguished student of the year

Rukayya Bibi (Year 4, English) is indisputably a high achiever. The recipient of LEO the Most Distinguished Student of the University Award 2021/22, she has also been awarded two President Chan Yuk-Shee Scholarships, a Link University Scholarship in 2021/22, and an HSBC HK Scholarship in 2020/21. Rukayya was also on the President’s List in 2019/20 and 2020/21.


She says there is no secret to her achievements, just hard work and the determination to do her best in everything. “I don’t let my good grades affect me so that I become overconfident. I always look at myself as someone who is below average, so the kind of effort and hard work I put in is equivalent to a student who is technically really below average.”


Living in a big family of nine, Rukayya has to find ways to study in peace at her own pace. “I am a student who can only work in a really silent environment, so I like to go somewhere quiet, and days when I cannot go out, I just stay up late and do all my schoolwork and assignments late at night,” says the Pakistani, who was born and raised in Hong Kong.



Rukayya attained a CGPA of 3.87 in the 1st term, 2021/22.


Like most university students, Rukayya has a part-time job, but she does not only work for money. “It has been four years since I worked as a tutor. I have to make sure I’m doing well in my job, because I do really need that teaching experience to pursue my career as an English teacher.” she says.


In addition to studying and tutoring, Rukayya also actively serves the community, and particularly the ethnic minorities -- from teaching children of ethnic minorities online, and preparing workshops for children with special educational needs to, recently, acting as an interpreter at Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre.


“One of my relatives caught COVID, and eventually most of my extended family had to be transferred to Penny’s Bay. They don’t really speak English or Chinese, and that’s how I started translating for them,” she recalls. “It was so much better that I could help them, because being stuck in a place where you can’t really go out is already frustrating enough, and on top of that, you can’t even communicate your basic needs -- as simple as I want this for food, we need water, we’re running out of water. I feel like these are really basic needs, and the fact that they were struggling with it really breaks your heart.”


Her empathy and compassion and wanting to help people came about because of her parents’ influence and the language barrier they had to deal with. “From a very young age, I was always my parents’ interpreter, translating things for them, filling in forms for them. Also, my parents always instilled in my mind that you are supposed to help people, especially if you are in a position where you can help.”


On track to become an English teacher, Rukayya will embark on a Postgraduate Diploma in Education next semester, and she thanks Lingnan’s Department of English for having inspired her to be a good student and teacher. “I never pursued literature in secondary school, because I was always so scared of it. I thought I wouldn’t be good at it. But the fact that I was at Lingnan and taking an English major meant I technically had to pick up English literature courses, and I actually fell in love with literature. Mainly because of my teachers, who make studying and literature sound so cool and so interesting that you just want to learn more. Your confidence is instantly going to go high because you know there are these supportive teachers who are constantly there, communicating with you.”


“Many professors are in fact my inspiration, and I look up to them, and hope that I can be a teacher like them in the future,” she says, adding: “I love the environment here at Lingnan. I love how it’s not overcrowded with students; if you step inside, you have that sense of peace, and you know that you’re in a place which is dedicated to study.”