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Stories Asia

All in a day’s work: Teen aces three tough Azure exams

When Pearly Law sat and passed three daunting Azure exams in one day, she took time out to tell her parents and a teacher about her remarkable achievement. She then celebrated with sleep. Lots of sleep.

It’s no wonder she was exhausted. She had given herself just one month to prepare for the trio of Microsoft cloud computing certificates: Azure Fundamentals, Azure AI Fundamentals and Azure Data Fundamentals. All the while she was keeping up with her freshman studies at the Department of Information Technology at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) – Lee Wai Lee.

The triple Azure exam goal that Law had set for herself was exceptional and intense. But this 18-year-old, who is passionate about machine learning and space travel, took it all in her stride. After all, she has faced big challenges before.

Let’s go back about 10 years when, as a precocious primary student, she told her parents she no longer wanted to go to school. Law’s bold declaration was more than a childish strop or the grumbles of a lazy student.

She was keen to learn but struggled in a formal classroom setting. To get ahead, she needed creative thinking and understanding from her parents and teachers who saw that flexible tech-based solutions would help her explore topics in-depth and at her own pace.

After several bumpy years, Law enrolled at Youth College (Kwai Fong) for a Diploma of Vocational Education (Information Technology) that focused on multimedia studies: graphic design, gaming and programming.

The college regularly collaborated with the Department of Information Technology at IVE (Lee Wai Lee). And one day she was invited to compete in a hackathon with a student team coached by IVE teacher, Cyrus Wong, who now teaches her.

The hackathon experience was a revelation and a turning point for her.

“I was really shy when I was younger. I didn’t like to talk,” Law recalls. “My first hackathon competition changed my whole life, changed my whole personality. I was really confident in myself after that. People were sharing their solutions and many cloud ideas, and I thought: That’s so interesting! I wanted to learn more.”

 

“My first hackathon competition changed my whole life – changed my whole personality. I was really confident in myself after that.”

Woman smiling

Nowadays, she is fully immersed in IVE’s Higher Diploma in Cloud and Data Centre Administration program where she is studying artificial intelligence (AI), programming languages, such as SQL, and Azure Cognitive Services.

She likes to train robots and wants to become a solution architect one day so she can use technology to help people. As an amateur stargazer, she would also love to work at NASA.

“There’s so much more to come with technology,” she says. “Recently, they took the first picture of a black hole, and that’s crazy. Soon we could be talking about going to other planets.”

As a big fan of online education, Law used Microsoft Learn to prepare for her three Azure exams. “Even though I was only taking the foundation exams, I listened to a lot of live events, watched videos, and took some further courses, mostly about machine learning.”

Being a pioneer

As her teacher, Wong regards Law as a “real pioneer” when it comes to learning about Microsoft cloud technologies. He says her success has inspired other students to do the same.

Fred Sheu, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Hong Kong, describes Law’s achievement as amazing.

“It is very hard to, and unusual for, someone to pass three certifications in one day,” he says. “To pass means she fully understands the fundamental concepts of Azure inside out. This is incredible considering she only started preparing a month prior to the exams.”

Law’s parents are also impressed. “They are really proud, I think. I hope so,” she says. “Before, we always argued with each other. But now we get along really well.”

Law says she has come a long way from what she calls her “faan bun kei” / “反叛期” (Cantonese for ‘young rebellious period’) when she needed a special learning environment to match her curiosity and enthusiasm.

This maverick student is now ready to join a long line of highly motivated free spirits who have gravitated to tech for its challenges, optimism, and unlimited possibilities.

“At Microsoft, we want more women to learn digital skills,” says Sheu. “And we encourage more female students to consider enrolling in STEM subjects and getting into tech. So, it is great to see someone like Pearly trying so hard and succeeding so well at such an advanced level.”

TOP IMAGE: Pearly Law with her three Azure certificates in the background. Photos by John Curran