Students and Alumni

Alumni success stories:
Triumph to the sky

The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences offers a broad range of professionally oriented programmes. Students in the College have a range of choices for their careers when they graduate. Their stories affirm that the professional education offered by the College is one of the contributing factors to our graduate's success. In this issue, POON Hau-king Cherrie, an alumna of the Department of Linguistics and Translation (LT), is invited to share her success story with us.

POON Hau-king Cherrie
Department of Linguistics and Translation
Graduate of 2008

I graduated from the BA in Linguistics and Language Technology (now renamed Linguistics and Language Applications) programme in 2008. I am now working as an air traffic control officer at the Hong Kong International Airport. Usually, when talking about the aviation industry, people would just mention pilots, flight attendants, or aircraft engineers. Air traffic control seems to be transparent in the eyes of the public. In fact, it is a vital element in modern aviation system, contributing to flight safety and efficiency.

Air traffic control mainly comprises aerodrome control and radar control. Simply speaking, aerodrome control is the control of aircraft for a specific aerodrome, which includes aircraft ground movement and aircraft landing and taking off. I am now an aerodrome controller at the Chek Lap Kok Airport, so I mainly provide the air traffic control service to departures and arrivals of the airport. Radar control is the control of aircraft in the air with the support of radar surveillance. These controllers sit in front of a radar screen to provide air traffic control service for any aircraft flying in the sky, not only departures or arrivals of a specific aerodrome, but also the overflying traffic. Overflying traffic is the aircraft flying through the airspace of Hong Kong departed from or destined for other cities in the world.

When I applied for the job, I had no idea what it was about. However, when I was employed by the Civil Aviation Department, I felt myself a very lucky girl. I knew nothing about aviation before, but now I am kind of a professional in this industry, particularly in air traffic control. I find myself lucky because it's a job that I love and enjoy doing so much. In our work, we have to communicate with people speaking English with various accents. Sometimes you may come across somebody who's not that good in English, but you can still understand them. This is thanks to the knowledge that I've acquired in my college years. We analysed languages in such aspects as phonetics, syntax, and semantics. Then, in our work, we have to deal with a lot of equipment. My advantage is that I learnt quite a lot in computer language in my college years. So now I can understand the mind-set behind those systems more easily. When we learn something, it is more important to understand than just to memorise mechanically. If we understand it, we will remember it naturally. And so sometimes when I encountered problems with that I was taught, I can handle it without seeking for help from others.

It seems I was predestined to become an air traffic controller. Besides the basic academic requirements, one's personality also determines whether he or she is suitable for the job. Having worked at the airport for four years now, I still love what I am doing so much.