Michael Khan, a graduate of MSc Marketing, was born and raised in Hong Kong. He founded Best Friends for Further Education in 2014. The social project advocates for inclusive higher education, particularly for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. He was recently awarded "30 under 30" by online lifestyle news site the Loop HK.
Dreams have always been what inspired me most. Whenever I speak to an audience, looking into the eyes of the parents sitting among the spectators, I often see the yearning for the betterment of the lives of their children. I feel as if I have a taste of what people are willing to endure in order to pursue their dreams. This inspires me to live by my life mission to “bring the kids off the streets and back into schools”.
Hong Kong’s universities rank internationally among the top, yet only a fraction of ethnic minorities successfully pursue tertiary education locally. Many are stuck in a generational cycle of poverty. I also always feel it very personally when tragedy strikes among local secondary students. As a recent distinction honours graduate of MSc Marketing from CityU, I uphold the spirit of the university’s motto – “樂群”, meaning putting emphasis on the relationship between the individual and the society.
Back in secondary school, I piloted projects that championed women's rights and founded "BestFriends" magazine, a student platform for social debate & criticism. By fate, I eventually developed a social project called "Best Friends for Further Education", aimed at encouraging more marginalised Hong Kong students to pursue higher education locally, whilst making it easier for them to access information on, and settling into local tertiary institutes.
Many people say I’m “everyone’s best friend” with the nickname “Bestfriend Michael”. I foresee my potential as a cultural bridge connecting HK and the world; growing up with native-like fluency in Cantonese. With a dream for more diversity within Hong Kong’s academia and professions in the future, I utilised my reputation, multilingualism and network to help both HK’s ethnic minority and Chinese students navigate the local education system, offering support, hope and guidance through self-made leaflets, school talks and individual consultations.
Having studied in the Community College of City University (CCCU), promoting community colleges became one of the components of my project. The high school study environment and curriculum often place financially less affluent Non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) students in a disadvantaged position. Community College is an alternative educational pathway that serves as a second chance for NCS youth in Hong Kong. In the lifetime of my project, there have been a boom in the numbers of local NCS students entering local tertiary institutes.
In March 2019, I was included in the Loop HK’s “30 under 30” award list for 2019 for assisting more ethnic minority students pursue higher education in Hong Kong. This award honours 30 talented HK young leaders who are under the age of 30 and have founded and steered significant contributions for Hong Kong during the past years. I did not expect it, but it has been such an encouragement and a huge validation for the work I have done.
In the future, I will continue emphasising Corporate Social Responsibility at work. Moreover, if possible, I wish I could someday work with government or in legislation to inject fresh and inclusive ideas coming from the perspective of an ethnic minority. I believe Hong Kong’s diversity in manpower and resources would be a competitive advantage in the implementation of the Belt-and-Road initiative within the Greater Bay Area.