Close bonds with classmates and lecturers, plus many opportunities, helped transform Sharon Wong from a failure into a stunning success
Programme pursued at Lingnan University: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Translation, 2009
Present career: Lecturer; Language Centre Officer; Programme Leader (Higher Diploma in Translation and Interpreting) , Caritas Institute of Higher Education
The close relationship with my teachers and fellow schoolmates, and the many opportunities Lingnan gave me really changed my life.Sharon Wong
Sharon Wong Sin-ying, a translation graduate from Lingnan University who has blossomed into an educator nurturing hundreds of youngsters, will always remember how Lingnan helped her fully realise her potential.
Nurtured from a shaky start to growing confidence
After graduating from Lingnan in 2009, Sharon went on to study a master’s degree in translation at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and then another master’s degree in applied linguistics and second language acquisition at the University of Oxford. She is now a lecturer, as well as the programme leader of the Higher Diploma in Translation and Interpreting at the Caritas Institute of Higher Education, where she also runs the language centre.
When Sharon first joined Lingnan, she was unsure what the future held for her. "I was not sure if Lingnan University was for me and I tried to change to other bigger, better known universities," Sharon said. "But I am so glad I chose to stay in the end because the close relationship with my teachers and fellow schoolmates, and the many opportunities Lingnan gave me really changed my life."
Of all her teachers, she is especially grateful to Professor Charles Kwong from the Department of Translation. When Sharon approached him to write reference letters for her to apply to switch universities, Professor Kwong took the time to talk to her about her aspirations and fears, and encouraged her to open her eyes to the wonderful opportunities at Lingnan, to plan her career, and prioritise her time.
When Sharon began her second year, Professor Kwong helped her realise that she needed to think about what she wanted in terms of her career, in order to spend her time wisely. "Because of Professor Kwong, I realised that I needed to have clear priorities in my life so that I could make wise choices, such as how to spend my time," Sharon said. "I felt secure enough to have this kind of deep conversation with Professor Kwong, other teachers and even the President, because Lingnan is a small campus and every one lives in the dormitory. It feels like family."
The intimate community of students who all live on campus, and the culture that encourages whole-person development, provided a supportive environment for Sharon to build up her social skills and explore her potential. For example, she was welcomed into various ball game teams, including those she had never tried before, because there were plenty of opportunities for everyone on such a small campus.
Inspired to be top of the class
"The small, intimate environment at Lingnan also motivated me to succeed because my efforts got much more recognition here than in a mega-sized university," Sharon said. "I came to be top of my class in Lingnan, and I tried to do my best at CUHK and Oxford."
"Sometimes, I could not help but think that if I had entered into some of the bigger universities, I would not have been so outstanding because I would just be one of many. I could not imagine teachers in other universities spending so much time on students. I am so glad I stayed at Lingnan, and I am so glad that this university has someone like Professor Kwong, who is wise and generous with his time with students. The university really puts students first, instead of just focusing on churning out academic researchers."
Inspired by what she had received at Lingnan, Sharon chose to accept an offer to teach full-time at the Caritas Institute of Higher Education, so that she could spend more time with youngsters who, like her, might not come from a high-flying school background. Juggling teaching, administration and course-planning, Sharon still finds time to talk to students about what they want in life, and how to overcome their fear so that they can achieve their dream. "I see myself in my students all the time," she said. "I used to think that I was useless, too, just because I defined my value by my poor high school grades. I want to encourage my students with my example: never underestimate yourself."
"Society may make you think that scores are everything. However, if you really want to achieve what you want in life, you just need to find the way. The road may not be straightforward, but you can enrich your life by meeting new people, trying new things, and learning new skills."