Talent for the Betterment of Society


Being a gifted person means you should become an inspiration for others, and trailblaze a path to success for them.

Kathy Cheung is only 20 years old, but is already a graduate of the International Research Enrichment Program and was once a student of the Center for the Development of the Gifted and Talented run by HKUST, and now she wants to inspire others.

Skipping both secondary 6 and her senior year at university, Kathy is somewhat of a prodigy, yet is still friendly and breezy. However, Kathy’s achievements are anything but casual, especially after joining a coveted position with HKUST’s Vice-President for Research & Development Prof Nancy Ip. The professor has been bestowed the National Natural Science Awards for her work on the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Professor Ip also pushed Kathy to address the misbalance of gender in science. “It is essential to have more women in the scientific community because diversity is crucial. There are sometimes gender stereotypes that push girls away from their passion in science. I’m so inspired by women like Professor Ip who constantly inspiring the field, they are my idols. I would like to take on the challenge of being an aspiring scientist.” Kathy says.

For Kathy, there was pressure working on this team. “I found it challenging because of how important this research was, and I had to make sure I was at the top of my game,” she says.

Kathy says research “is often about failure”, but the people at HKUST are supportive and kind, and most importantly, they all share an ambition to help make a better society. “My peers are thrilled about challenges and discussions on everything in life. They are highly curious and never allow themselves to be defeated by adversity, they help me push my abilities. We must get used to the challenge of failing, that is essential for any scientist, and rise above it,” Kathy adds.

She is now going to Stanford to further her studies with a research internship. The internship is an important step for Kathy to make use of her talents for the betterment of society, by contributing to the worlds of science and research, while holding the door to science wide open for more boys and girls.

A PhD is the next big goal for Kathy, but she also has time for some fun. Kathy can often be found rock climbing or baking. But whatever she does, Kathy has her eyes on the greater good. “I want to be a scientist, and encourage kids, regardless of gender and social pressure, to open their minds at an early age,” Kathy says.