Alumni engagement and philanthropy


19 July 2021

The recipients of this year’s Diana Award, which represent some of the most inspirational young people from across the UK and around the world, include final year Queen’s Law student Yi Kang Choo, originally from Malaysia.

Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Diana Award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex. The Award, the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts, is given to those going above and beyond in their daily life to create and sustain positive change in their communities.

Awarded at the end of June, Yi Kang Choo was nominated for his Welfare Taskforce for Malaysian Students Abroad initiative which he established after realising that there was a lack of support for Malaysian students studying abroad during the pandemic.

Explaining the role and purpose of the Taskforce, Choo said:

“We volunteered our time to provide valuable support to young people who couldn’t return home due to the pandemic, or who were experiencing mental health challenges as a result of being isolated in a foreign country as part of the Taskforce. 

He and his team launched a number of initiatives, including a buddy support system (which ended up pairing more than 80 buddies) and creating online content and infographics to promote students' mental wellbeing during the lockdown.

“We also invited other students and health professionals to share their travel experiences and tips on how they cared for their mental health through several ‘Chit-Chat Sessions’ that were later uploaded on Facebook & YouTube,” he continued.

“And we recruited and assigned volunteers in the four regions of the UK, Ireland, Malaysia and Germany.

“Finally, we partnered up with a mobile app service SpareHands to help students who required grocery support during their isolation period at home.”

In all, the Taskforce supported over 1,300 students worldwide, including students based in the UK, US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia via their Facebook group, reaching over 27,000 people on social media through wellbeing-related posts.

A trained volunteer counsellor for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Choo supports young people in the UK on various issues including bullying, abuse, self-harm and family relationships.

Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, said:

“We congratulate all our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and all over the globe who are change makers for their generation. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.

“For over twenty years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”

A final year LLB Law student who is due to graduate this summer, Choo honed his advocacy and critical thinking skills while being a Champion National Debater who has represented Malaysia in various international debate tournaments while he attended high school. While studying at Queen’s, he was both the Best Speaker for the 2019 QUB Open Moot Tournament and winner of the 2020 Philpott Curran Intervarsity Moot Tournament which he won while representing the University abroad. He has completed legal internships with Herbert Smith Freehills and Baker McKenzie.

Commenting on winning the Award, Yi Kang Choo added:

“I am super grateful and honoured to be receiving this prestigious award. This would never have been possible without the trust I received from the One Young World team, who nominated me.

“I would also like to dedicate this Award to all the mentors, partners, colleagues, friends, and family members who have taught me so many important life lessons throughout my social work journey!” 

As an active One Young World (OYW) Ambassador, Yi Kang Choo works closely with a wide network of inspiring young leaders worldwide. In 2019, he represented Queen’s and Northern Ireland in the OYW Summit in London.  

“I would also hope to leverage this award to strongly encourage more young people out there to never stop dedicating their time/effort to contribute to meaningful voluntary work within their local communities! Young people do have the POWER to CHANGE the world – so never underestimate the huge potential you and I have to make our world a better place for all!”, he concluded.

Dr Marek Martyniszyn, Interim Head of the School of Law at Queen’s said:

"In the School of Law, we are extremely proud of Yi Kang Choo. We are truly delighted that his extremely valuable work received due recognition. Yi Kang went above and beyond; he used his skills, energy and enthusiasm to help others in these challenging times of global pandemic. His efforts cultivate Queen’s core values – integrity, connectivity, ambition, respect and excellence.

“I hope this acknowledgement will motivate fellow young people to follow Yi Kang’s steps in making such a valuable contribution to society."

Nomination & judging process

In being put forward for the Award, Choo’s nominators had to demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas:

  • Vision
  • Social Impact
  • Inspiring Others
  • Youth Leadership
  • Service Journey

Twelve Diana Award Judging Panels representing each UK region or nation, and a further three representing countries outside of the UK and each consisting of three judges – one young person, an education or youth work professional, and a business or government representative – determine which nominations from each UK region/nation/country will receive The Diana Award.

For further information visit The Diana Award website or contact Emma Pelling on: +44 (0)795 8558 172. 

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit graduate news items, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

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