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Leeds alum recognised for contribution to positive social change

Howe Wong (Electronic and Electrical Engineering 2011) has been recognised for his contribution to positive social change at the British Council’s annual Study UK Alumni Awards in Malaysia.

Howe triumphed in the Social Impact category at the prestigious international awards, which recognise high achieving Malaysian-UK alumni. The awards receive around 1,000 applications from international UK alumni, representing over 120 higher education institutions across the UK.

Howe’s success is a result of his work in his hometown, Sarawak. Returning to Sarawak after graduating from Leeds, Howe collaborated closely with government agencies on rural electrification projects. Sarawak has a population of some 2.78 million, about half of which is rural-based, living in townships, bazaars, villages and longhouses spread across a vast geographical landscape, with winding rivers, dense rainforests and rugged terrain. The project aimed to extend the grid to reachable areas and install standalone systems employing alternative electricity sources for regions too remote for grid connection. As a result of his efforts, 30,000 households in the rural communities are now able to enjoy 24 hours of electricity rather than having to pay for costly fossil fuel generators.

On receiving the award, Howe said: “I am very happy, and I’m grateful to the British Council for this recognition. I have followed my passion and that has brought me to where I am today.”

Howe pays tribute to Leeds in helping him along the way: “I chose to study at Leeds because it was top of the research rankings for my course. It was a great decision, my degree provided me with the technical knowledge necessary for designing and building a system that would work for the rural community considering all criteria – such as locality, geography and so on. Ultimately, studying at Leeds enabled me to pursue my goal of making positive changes and improving lives.

“I’m proud that I can represent the University. I have some brilliant memories of spending quality time there with multinational friends from different cultures and backgrounds across the world.”

This award is not the end of the journey for Howe, who continues to work on the project, further improving the livelihoods of people in Sarawak’s poorest communities.

Sarah Deverall, Director Malaysia, British Council said: “We are proud of our winners and all seven finalists, who maximised their UK education experience and made a significant impact on their communities. The Alumni Awards allow us to come together to celebrate these individuals and the role of international students in enabling the UK to be one of the most diverse, dynamic, and rewarding higher education destinations.”

When asked how much of an impact a UK education had for students such as Howe, Sarah added: “Through a holistic education experience, students who study in the UK not only excel academically but are also better prepared for the workforce and more well-rounded as individuals. The Alumni Awards provide the opportunity for us to recognise their achievements. We are immensely proud to be catalysts for their success, and hope that their achievements will inspire the next generation of students.”

Howe received his award at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on 6 February. He will go on to share his experiences and expertise at British Council’s bi-annual Study UK Fair on 22 March 2020 at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur. You can find out more about the awards and the winners here: https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/alumni-awards


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