Tuesday, January 1, 2013 | By: Rudi Butt

Dr. Lai Po-cheun, First Woman Medical Student at HKU

Updated (partial) on January 1, 2013

Notable Doctors From the First 100 Years
A Biography of

Lai Po-cheun 賴寶川
The first woman medical student at HKU

MB, BS, HKU; one of the first three women students admitted to HKU [1] and the only one to read medicine. That was in 1921, one year ahead of Eva Ho-tung 何嫻姿, yet it was Ho-tung, not Lai, who became the first medical student to graduate. In fact, I am still looking to find in which year she finished school. The only records of her I could find were from the year 1939, there she unquestionably was on the favorite list of someone important in the government. She was appointed, in the same instance on May 25, 1939, a Health Officer, the secretary of the Midwives Board and Supervisor of Midwives (to replace Alta Francis Stout who had resigned), and an Inspector of Schools. She was listed as Chinese Lady Assistant Medical Officer for Schools, Medical Department in 1941, and was again appointed as Inspector of Schools.
[1] The other two were Rachel Mary Irving 艾惠珠 and Irene Cheng 何奇姿. Irving was the daughter Edward Alexander Irving 伊榮 who was the sitting (and Hong Kong's first) Director of Education. Irving was admitted to the Faculty of Art, year three, and graduated with a BA degree in 1923. She was Hong Kong's first woman university graduate. Cheng (b. October 21, 904, Hong Kong – d. February 17, 2007, San Diego), nee Ho-tung, was Eva Ho-tung's sister. Cheng received her BA degree in English in 1925 and was the first Hong Kong-born woman university graduate. She went on to become a devoted educator.
References:
- The Hong Kong Government Gazette, June 23, 1939, appointments #501, #502 and #503; May 9, 1941, Appointment #52.
- Lee Hock Guan (Ed.) and Lee Lai To (Ed.), <em>Sun Ya-sen: Nanyang and the 1911 Revolution</em>, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, 2011.
- Lee, Vicky, <em>Being Eurasian: Memories Across Racial Divides</em>, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2004

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