Self-reinvention through braving illness
IVE business graduate applies event planning knowledge to take care of disadvantaged
“I have regarded myself as a good-for-nothing since a young age, but after a serious illness turned me around, I am now able to unearth my own value.” This “enlightenment” happened to Yanny POON Lok-yung, a young lady in her early twenties.
Yanny is a graduate of the Higher Diploma in Event Marketing and Digital Promotion programme of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), who earlier found her performance in secondary school undistinguished. She originally planned to work after graduation, only to be hobnobbed by an unexpected severe illness in Secondary Four. At that point, she had a narrow escape from the possibility of an early “graduation” from life. Luckily, Yanny recovered from treatment after two years. She began to take her studies seriously and has since been awarded a variety of scholarships in her IVE years. She is now following that up with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) in Marketing at a local university and hopes to give back to society in future through work in event management and marketing with voluntary organisations.
Yanny recalled that back then in Secondary Four, she developed a string of ailments like tiredness, a poor appetite and even fainting at home within the space of a month. Her parents took her to hospital for a thorough check-up, where she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The illness suppressed Yanny’s immune system with symptoms including a propensity for bacterial infections, anaemia, abnormal bleeding and swollen lymph nodes.
At the Threshold of Hades
Yanny was totally dumbfounded at being dealt such a heavy blow. While undergoing hospital treatment, she lost all her hair and had a close brush with death. “On one occasion, I fainted because my blood pressure plummeted to such lows that even the doctor thought my life was in danger and quickly called my parents to the hospital,” she recalled. However, Yanny’s family took good care of her during her time in hospital and her father even gave up his job as a chef to look after her.
After two years’ unremitted chemotherapy, Yanny recovered from the illness and went back to repeat her Secondary Four studies. This time, she was no longer the student muddling along. “Taking nothing for granted, I now treasure the opportunity to learn and will from time to time remind myself of the importance of studying harder,” she said. She even volunteered to visit sick children in hospital during her spare time. While at IVE, Yanny was provided with a half-year internship in a charity targeting children, where she helped organise different events and services. She has also taken part in organising a mega jewellery exhibition and a sports event.
Yanny’s final year project at IVE was conducted in collaboration with an institution serving epilepsy sufferers. She presented a year-long promotion plan including talks, campaigns on social media platforms and booths on the street, with a view to raising public awareness of epilepsy. She was glad to see the final adoption of her plan by the institution, and the booths and events she proposed well received by the public. Moreover, during the course of these activities, Yanny was able to share her story about falling ill with students and social workers, conveying a positive message to them.
Yanny was bestowed with an assortment of scholarships at IVE, including an Outstanding Performance Scholarship under the Self-financing Post-secondary Scholarship Scheme. She graduated with flying colours, scoring a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.9 out of a maximum of 4. She has since proceeded to Year Three of a local university programme leading to a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) in Marketing. She will graduate from her university studies this year.
The IVE internship and voluntary work experiences have enabled Yanny to better understand the logistics of hosting public events and the use of various social media platforms to promote them. At the same time, she is keenly aware of the limitations facing charities of lesser scale. “Notwithstanding the meaningful purpose of an event, organisations of smaller scale often have difficulty reaching out to a wider audience for more effective promotion due to constraints in resources and manpower,” she noted. Yanny would very much like to apply her event management and marketing knowledge to help voluntary organisations plan more meaningful events. This way she can better serve disadvantaged people and give back to society.