Of Heart and Hard Work
School of Health Sciences
Deborah Lee (right, in photo above) is the School of Health Sciences’ top social work graduate in 2018. She is also the recipient of the National Council of Social Service Gold Medal and Ngee Ann Kongsi Award for All-Round Achievement. She may not have done well for PSLE, but she worked hard through secondary school to qualify for her first-choice course - NYP’s Diploma in Social Sciences (Social Work). She led a pretty busy life during her three years in NYP. Her days were packed with coursework, leadership roles in various school projects, CCA commitments, as well as a plethora of community service involvement outside school.
We chat with her to find out what makes her tick and what keeps her going.
1) Scholar, Member of Director’s List, Project Leader, Exco Secretariat etc etc. You sound like the perfect A-star student who has aced it all. How do you do it?
Good grades don’t come naturally for me. I didn’t do well for my PSLE. But I really wanted to be in the same school as my twin sister, Abigail (in photo above). So I worked super hard to get good enough grades for a transfer in Secondary 2. And then I had to work harder to maintain those grades and prove to others that I really had what it took. Studying in NYP was not always easy either and I faced many challenges. I had to put in more effort than my peers to catch up. But I always stand by the principle that hard work is the key to success.
2) Why did you decide on social work?
I have a cousin with autism. I have seen how my aunt went through a lot to bring him up, and the social stigma they face. So I wish to work with children with special needs and their caregivers. My mum also thought that I would excel in social work given my personality, and strongly supported me in this choice.
3) You went to Hong Kong to do youth outreach, you had to hang out in the streets and chat with youth at risk. Were you scared at any point?
The focus of my four-week stint was on reaching out to youth at risk. Hong Kong is well-known for its progressive social service sector and I really wanted to learn by walking the ground with them. As part of the outreach, we checked out places where the youth hung out in the wee hours. But it was always in teams, with other social service staff and volunteers. Although I couldn’t speak Cantonese to save my life, the youth were quite open with me and didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. We conversed in Putonghua (Mandarin) and English. Yes, English, because many of the youth actually came from quite well-off, educated family backgrounds. I learnt that youth delinquency cut across socio-economic backgrounds.
4) Your CCAs are community service related, and you also volunteer weekly with an impressive list of VWOs. How do you avoid burnout?
I guess good time management works for me. I plan my schedule. I rest when I need to, study when I need to. I generally manage my emotions quite well on my own. If need be, I will also confide in my parents. And of course, there’s always my twin sister Abigail! She is my best friend.
5) All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl. What about you?
Erm…I play the piano. And I travel! I have been to Australia more than 10 times, sometimes twice within a year! Mainly because my five granduncles migrated there from Malaysia. They now live in Melbourne and Brisbane. When I am in Melbourne, I like to café-hop and visit Yarra Valley. But most of the time, I just like to hang out at my relatives’, chill and catch up with them.
Because We Can
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