Alumnus Chan Keng Lim

Class of 1999, Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Class of 2005, Master of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (CCI)

Class of 2012, Doctor of Education

[Editor’s Note] This year marks the 40th anniversary of the University of Macau (UM). Over the past four decades, the university has attained numerous achievements in the fields of human resources training, scientific research, and social services, and has made significant contributions to the development of Macao society. My UM will share a series of UM members’ stories of how they pursued their dreams in the company of UM.

UM Alumnus Chan Keng Lim spent 15 years at UM completing his foundation studies, bachelor’s degree, postgraduate certificate in education, master’s degree, and doctoral degree. The university has accompanied him in his growth from a young student to a teacher, and he is grateful to his alma mater. He says: ‘The most important thing UM has taught me is the true meaning of education – to be a light to students.’

Great Professors in College

A graduate of Pui Ching Middle School Macau (PCMS), Chan enrolled in the foundation programme at UM in 1994 and was accepted into the civil engineering programme the following year. ‘Many of the civil engineering professors at that time were elites who had come back from top universities overseas to contribute to Macao, including Prof Iu Vai Pan, Prof Mok Kai Meng, and Prof Wang Zhishi. Prof Wang was the teacher who had the greatest influence on me during my undergraduate studies,’ says Chan.

Chan has a distinct memory of his student life on the campus. ‘In those days, the results of every experiment done in the laboratory had to be verified over and over again,’ he says. ‘I had to go back and forth to verify the results of every experiment I did in the laboratory. Every teacher I met at the university has had a great influence on me and became a beacon of light in my life, showing me that as long as I have the perseverance and determination to overcome difficulties, I will eventually achieve my dreams.’

Unforgettable Years of PhD Studies

After graduating from college in 1999, Chan found that he was very interested in education and decided to teach in a secondary school while studying for a masters’ degree in the Faculty of Education, with the ambition of making teaching his lifelong career. During his postgraduate studies, he met another mentor who had a profound influence on his life, Prof Cheung Kwok Cheung. He explains: ‘The most unforgettable and difficult time of my life was during my doctoral studies, when I had to face a heavy teaching load during the day and attend classes and do research at night. The stress of feeling that I was in a race against time was simply beyond words.’

Chan graduated with a PhD degree in 2012, becoming the first graduate of UM’s PhD programme in education. His PhD thesis was titled ‘A Study of Educational Equity of Macao Basic Education Through Analyses of PISA2006 Scientific Literacy Survey Data’. ‘I am particularly grateful to my PhD supervisor, Prof Cheung Kwok Cheung, for inspiring me to be bold in my assumptions about the data and to keep asking, “If this approach doesn’t work, can we try another one?” His guidance has benefited me a lot not only in my research, but also in my teaching,’ says Prof Chan.

‘Education is my true vocation.’

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Chan first worked as a science and mathematics teacher in various local secondary schools before coincidentally returning to his alma mater, PCMS, to teach. Having taught at PCMS for many years, he is committed to educating students with heart and soul, and after becoming the principal of the school in 2014, he felt an even greater sense of responsibility. ‘My master’s thesis was on multiple intelligences, and my research in this area helped me to understand how to observe and appreciate students from different perspectives,’ he says. ‘For many years in education, I have been practising what I learned at the university. I believe that every student has a unique talent and if they are not good at this, can they be good at something else? As an educator, my most important task is to be a light to guide students so that they can follow the right path in their lives.’

These words are from the bottom of Chan’s heart, as he has been working in the field of education for many years. In his teaching career, he has met many young people and has found that many of them do not know what they want in life, or what they want to do in the future. He often encourages his students with his own experiences. He says: ‘Students should learn and try different things while they are young, read more, increase their knowledge and develop their interests. Don’t be afraid of difficulties and setbacks, and even if you fail, you must learn from your mistakes. Every success is built on countless failures!’

Grateful for Mentors’ Guidance

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the university. Chan says: ‘I owe my dream job to the mentors who have guided me through my career. I hope that my alma mater will continue to develop and innovate in the future, and become a cradle for the world’s top researchers to pursue their dreams and a national base for talent development.’

Source: ISSUE 103 April My UM