12 Jan 2024

The New Blood of United College — Choi Tsz Ching

Student Translator: Eunice Y Seto (TRAN/3)

Nicole Choi, a second-year student majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology, made a deliberate choice to join United College for several compelling reasons. Firstly, the college offers abundant opportunities for student exchanges. Secondly, it provides extensive support to students, including scholarships and on-campus accommodation. Thirdly, it comes highly recommended by many alumni of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Additionally, Nicole was drawn to the college’s new student website, which she found to be well-organised and vibrant. Despite being unable to visit the campus in person as she was out of town, she still opted for United College. Over the past two years, Nicole has actively participated in various college activities, including serving as the President of the Residents’ Association of Bethlehem Hall, leading freshmen on campus tours, and assisting the Alumni Association. She enthusiastically attended events whenever possible, always eager to learn something new. Her active involvement has earned her a nomination by the United College for the CUHK 2023 Outstanding Student Award: Social Service – Service to the CUHK Community.

When asked about her most memorable service experience, Nicole responded with a cheerful laugh and a bright smile, which were a testament to her dedication to each and every activity. Having had her face-to-face high school days halted due to the pandemic, she was even more eager to engage in activities when she started university life. Nicole admitted that the events she was responsible for could be stressful, as she constantly worried about potential mishaps. However, no matter how well-prepared she was, there were always “loose ends”. She said that equipment omissions and staff changes were unavoidable, but as long as there was adequate preparation and quick response, the events could proceed without a hitch.

Nicole’s most significant reward in event organisation was developing a macroscopic perspective. She used to panic when she encountered unexpected events, which led to chaos. Now, she has learned to break down complex issues into smaller, manageable tasks and solve them one by one. Each completed task brings her a great sense of satisfaction. She emphasises the importance of teamwork, citing that Nobel Prize winners nowadays are often a team. However, she admitted that maintaining both one’s own opinions and friendships can be challenging. “There’s still a lot to learn,” she said, “and I am still in the process of learning and growing.”

Nicole values the process of building connections with others, which is probably why she enjoys collaborating with diverse individuals. She believes that everyone grows up in different environments, leading to occasional conflicts, but she sees these conflicts as opportunities for personal growth. Although she has yet to develop an exercise routine, she has learned from her mentor in the College’s Shum Choi Sang Mentorship Programme who play table tennis every week, that regular repetition can transform a task into something enjoyable.

Nicole confessed that she did not have a clear concept of a college would mean to a student. However, through her active participation in various activities, she gradually developed a sense of belonging to United College. As President of the Residents’ Association, she had numerous opportunities to interact with fellow residents and staff, experiencing the warmth of the hostel culture. She considered the hostel as her second home away from home. Furthermore, she expressed her gratitude for the college’s exceptional support to students. For instance, the Diving Workshop she organised received financial and promotional assistance from the College. This enabled her to successfully launch CUHK’s first Diving Workshop, which was very well received by both the College Head and Mr Wong On Tung, the Warden of Hang Seng Hall. Nicole is now contemplating to expand the scale of Diving Workshop to include a land trampoline component so that even non-swimmers can experience the thrill of diving, thus further popularising the knowledge of diving.

Through her active involvement in various activities, Nicole realised her ability to influence others. She humbly admitted that she merely provided the impetus for the Diving Workshop, as it was her friend who had a keen interest in diving and had envisioned the workshop but lacked the motivation to bring it to fruition. It was during a conversation between the two of them that they jointly decided to turn the idea into reality, with Nicole becoming half of the initiator to help her friend realise his vision. When asked if she fears failure, Nicole boldly asserted, “University life is about stepping out of the comfort zone, and there is no reason to be afraid of failure! Even if we fail, we start all over again after graduation!” Such kind of courageous spirit and determination are truly admirable.