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UTAR CFS student wins Harvard Prize Book 2020

It was one of the greatest moments for Foundation in Science student Joshua Yii Zhu Hee from UTAR Centre for Foundation Studies (CFS) Sungai Long Campus when his name was announced as the Harvard Prize Book 2020 winner during the inaugural virtual Harvard Prize Book 2020 Prize Giving Ceremony held via Microsoft Teams on 10 December 2020.

Welcome and introduction of the Harvard Prize Book 2020

UTAR’s maiden winner

The proud winner Joshua Yii was awarded a copy of Harvard Prize Book sponsored by the Harvard Club of Malaysia (HCM), a certificate endorsed by HCM and also cash prizes worth RM250 by UTAR and RM250 by HCM. Joshua Yii was awarded based on his excellent academic performance, involvement in soft-skill programmes and his presentation at the final interview with the HCM award panel.

There were also two other finalists from UTAR CFS, namely Foundation in Science student Phuah Zi Song from CFS Kampar Campus and Foundation in Arts student You Xin Lei from CFS Sungai Long Campus who participated in the Harvard Prize Book 2020. The two finalists received a certificate each endorsed by HCM. 

Organised and conducted by HCM, the Harvard Prize Book 2020 Prize Giving Ceremony was attended by HCM Committee Member Khoo Eu Wen, UTAR President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat, UTAR Vice President for Internationalisation and Academic Development Ir Prof Dr Yow Ho Kwang, UTAR CFS Kampar Campus Director Tan Lee Siew, UTAR CFS Sungai Long Campus Director Melissa Stefanie Netto, UTAR Division of Examinations, Awards and Scholarships Director Nik Zaitun binti Nik Salleh, CFS Deputy Directors, UTAR staff and Harvard Prize Book 2020 winner and finalists.

Congratulating and motivating the Harvard Book Prize 2020 winner Yii and the finalists Phuah and You for their achievements, Prof Ewe in his speech enthused, “On behalf of UTAR, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Yii. We are indeed proud of your achievements and you have indeed created history for UTAR by being the first-ever Foundation student to have won this prestigious award. Keep up the good work. To the two finalists, thank you for your kind participation and for making UTAR proud. We wish all of you the very best in your studies and all your future endeavours.” 

Prof Ewe added, “UTAR is determined to provide its students with a holistic education, focused on both academic and non-academic areas. In line with that, we aim to nurture our students with a broad range of experiences and help them make the most of their years together in UTAR to network with one another and offer them various opportunities to develop the skills and values that they will need for life. Besides judging our students’ performance through examinations, we are also looking at other measures of how well they do in education and how well they can contribute to the nation, society and industry. With that, we are indeed very honoured and we would like to thank the Harvard Club of Malaysia for inviting UTAR to participate in this prestigious award. It is very important to motivate students not only academically but also in the areas of extra-curricular and soft skills development. Once again, thank you to Harvard Club of Malaysia for giving this recognition to UTAR students for their good work done both in their academic and non-academic performances.”

Echoing the sentiment of Prof Ewe, the Committee Member of HCM Khoo congratulated Yii and also the other two finalists. He emphasised, “It is very important for young students to have a good set of soft skills including interpersonal skills and communication skills in order for them to fit well in their future workplace. I also would like to stress that students must learn proactively both inside and outside the classroom in order for them to attain a balanced set of skills, values and mindset to propel further in their life. On behalf of Harvard Club of Malaysia, once again I would like to congratulate the winner as well as the other two finalists and we wish you great success in your future path and best of luck.”

On the other hand, in his acceptance speech, the overjoyed Yii enthused, “It is an honour for me to be the first student from UTAR to receive the Harvard Prize Book 2020. Thank you to the Harvard Club of Malaysia and UTAR for awarding me with this prestigious award. I would also like to thank my parents, friends, academic advisor and all the lecturers who encouraged and supported me throughout my studies. I would like to dedicate this award to both my parents and I am very thankful to them for sending me to UTAR to pursue my tertiary education. I will always move forward to achieve greater success and also to make my parents proud of my achievements.” 

The Harvard Alumni established The Harvard Prize Book (HPB) in 1910 to recognise outstanding youth and bring the various education opportunities at Harvard to the attention of students in schools and pre-university programmes. The HPB targets graduating secondary school and pre-university students who have achieved academic excellence, possess exceptional leadership qualities, contributed significantly to the community and displayed compassion and strength of character. Prize Books are awarded without regard to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or political beliefs. Globally, more than 2,000 schools participated in the HPB programme.

In Malaysia, the HPB programme was started in 2011 and is sponsored by the Harvard Club of Malaysia. The Harvard Club of Malaysia organises several annual activities such as its flagship Harvard Prize Book programme; a series of lectures and discussions with visiting professors and academics from Harvard; and regular, informal discourse on current affairs with ministers, business personalities, and other guests.

The three finalists (from top) Phuah, You and Yii

A group photo of all the attendees at the end of the Harvard Prize Book 2020 Prize Giving Ceremony

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