I was born in Hong Kong and I received education in private school from kindergarten through to high school. I studied English Literature and Psychology in my first degree at the University of Hong Kong, and continued with a master’s degree in Social Work at the University of North Dakota in the United States. All these learning opportunities have prepared me to be a critical thinker and an advocate for the vulnerable populations.

Hometown: Hong Kong


I joined a volunteer programme in India for a year upon my master’s graduation and worked with the beggar population, street children, and people with leprosy, who were shunned by government and families. That was intense and heart-broken seeing how people especially children suffer and struggle to stay alive. However, I felt the hope and kindness of the volunteers and the dedicated social work students, and how their selfless behaviours have touched so many lives and mine in the helping process.

I was employed as a child advocate in the Minnesota Judicial Branch prior to my admission to the PhD Program at QMU. I carried out independent investigations for both family and juvenile courts, and made recommendations to judges, attorneys and all parties regarding the arrangement of the children at that point of time, considering the best interests of the children. I was also an active volunteer in local refugee organisations, and helped train volunteers to provide support to refugee families in our community. One day, I came to the realisation that a friend of mine has moved to Scotland and was studying at QMU. He then sent me a link to the QMU Bursary Competition for doctoral research focusing on psychosocial wellbeing of refugees. It looked very exciting and it has been my passion to further my studies in the area of mental health of the refugee population. I decided to apply for that position, and I got the reply from the University in late May last year about the good news: I got the Bursary!



"My supervisors are very encouraging and knowledgeable in the field of humanitarian aid, and I have learned a lot from them not only through supervision, but also refugee seminars and conferences where they presented their papers or gave a talk"
Caroline Cheng

The Course:

I was admitted into the Institute of Global Health and Development at QMU and I started the induction programme. My research area is the relationship between social connections and psychosocial wellbeing of the refugee population, and I have been working closely with my two supervisors to come up with a research proposal in the past few months. The work load is not very heavy, but sometimes it was hard to stop reading in the research process and I ended up staying until 9pm most of the nights on campus.

My supervisors are very encouraging and knowledgeable in the field of humanitarian aid, and I have learned a lot from them not only through supervision, but also refugee seminars and conferences where they presented their papers or gave a talk. The library and its online systems are helpful in locating relevant and sufficient research materials such as books and journals. I also utilised the writing centre to help improve the style of academic writing, and the staff is very helpful.

I have held a part-time job for about 12 hours a week as a support worker in a charity organisation, The Thistle Foundation. It offered me ample learning opportunities and training courses from Scottish laws to mindfulness classes. This job allows me to meet more local people especially the disabled and their families. I would say that it has added a lot of joy and satisfaction in my life as a student and as a newcomer in this beautiful city. The Bursary has helped me tremendously as I do not have to worry about paying tuition or not having enough for rent and food. It allows me to concentrate on my research studies, give me the freedom to pick a meaningful job and definitely the peace of mind and confidence that I am managing my life well.

I have gained valuable experience and enriched my learning over the past nine months that I have been a graduate student so far. I would advise prospective PG students to prepare well before the application to a PhD program. Finding the right programme and research topic, and identifying potential supervisors in the institution is very important. A great match between students and supervisors in terms of field and passion will definitely bring a more rewarding and satisfying journey in the PhD endeavours.

Life after graduation:

Upon my graduation at QMU, I am hoping to engage actively in the academic arena as well as with grassroot agencies to put my knowledge to good use. I will take up the role of a researcher and an activist to serve the vulnerable populations, especially refugees.


Story published 2016-2017

Graduate School and Doctoral Research

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