We are told not to judge a book by its cover. So perhaps it follows that we should not judge a person’s ability by his test scores. Druid Fung Cheuk-ki did not do well in public examinations but this has not prevented him from becoming a social science scholar and landing a job as a teacher. With an associate degree, he pursued a bachelor’s then a master’s degree, and later became assistant lecturer at Lingnan University’s Community College – eight long years of study and hard work since secondary school.
Why did you take up social science?
I was a science student who was not good at all with this subject in secondary school. I got into the science stream because students in this group were considered the top in my school. I was not bad at mathematics but I failed my physics in the A levels, ruining my chance for a university spot. I therefore decided to take up a two-year associate degree in social science at the Community College.
How did you overcome failures?
Like most associate students, I encountered failures and was looking for a second chance to pursue a degree. I was worried that I would not be able to catch up after I was admitted to the degree programme because most of my classmates were high scorers who got admitted through the A-level examination.
At that time, my self-esteem was not high. But do high scorers mean high performers? Definitely not. After interacting with some of them, I found out they lacked people skills and presentation skills that I had. No offence, but I felt they were high scorers in examinations but low performers in life. I no longer feel like a second-class citizen.
How did you work your way up to becoming a lecturer?
My associate-degree classmates and I were all determined to go to university. Everyone was working extra hard. I loved to read the news and found it amazing to relate the news to social science theories that I learned in class. This motivated me to study. It was enjoyable to study social science compared with physics. I did not come from a wealthy family, and the sooner I graduated, the better it would be for them.
Luckily, my grades were good enough to earn a scholarship and to study for a master’s degree in international banking and finance. I worked as a researcher for three years at Lingnan University’s department of economics before taking up the position of assistant lecturer and deputy subject coordinator of social sciences with the Community College at Lingnan University in 2010.
What is your motto in life?
Be optimistic. No matter how bad the situation is, it will turn for the better. The hardship you are facing now will prepare you for a better life. Enjoy your life, for you only live once.
What can you advice people with poor public examination results?
Getting low marks does not mean you are inferior. People who get high scores may be better at mastering examination techniques, but it does not necessarily mean they are more knowledgeable than you. If you plan to get into university, there are other ways besides taking public exams. Don’t look down on yourself if you do not do well in examinations. People who have encountered failures are often more tough minded and better at handling pressures.
What was the breakthrough point in your life?
I loved working with young people and my initial ambition was to become a social worker. After taking up social science, I switched to social policy. As a social worker, I can help on a case-by-case basis, which wouldn’t be bad at all. But by researching social policy, I can bring good to the society. Focusing on social policy was the right choice for my career.
Who inspired you to aim higher?
My associate degree teachers and classmates were my biggest supporters. Our teachers took career planning with us seriously. They helped analyse our background and aptitude, and inspired us to plan our career. This was when I realised I was empowered to bring positive changes to my family and society. I remembered having a serious family issue when I was studying at Community College and my classmates supported me fully. They helped me with homework and in presentations. I have a group of close classmates who studied with me from our associate and master degree days. We have become best friends.
What are your plans?
Teaching will be my long-term career but I do not want to fall behind social policy research. Due to my background, poverty is the focus of my research. I think many more could be done to help the elderly and grassroots class. I would like to pursue a PhD. Many think a master’s degree is enough but I want to provide my students the best possible learning experience.