Published on 26 November 2019
Rose Hopewell-Fong never lets anything slip through her fingers – whether it’s on the rugby field or in the classroom.
So when she picks up her University of Sunderland Alumni Achiever of the Year (Hong Kong) honour next month, she will be grasping it with both hands.
It will be yet another honour for Rose to add to her trophy cabinet, which already reflects her hard work, not to mention her multi-tasking skills.
Rose grew up in Hong Kong but later moved to England to study, also representing England U20s in Rugby Union.
After a difficult decision to return home to Hong Kong, she went on to represent Hong Kong 7s and 15s Rugby Union in a professional capacity.
While all this was going on, the now 29-year-old decided to embark on the University’s long-distance learning PGCE programme, to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.
Rose went on to retire from professional 7s rugby in 2015, but has continued to represent Hong Kong in the 15s where they most notably qualified and participated in the Rugby World Cup in Dublin during 2017.
Since then, in the last two years, she has started and completed her Masters in International Education with Sunderland and become mum to Olivia Margaret, now 17 months old.
She also returned and represented Hong Kong 15s rugby in three international test matches as Vice-Captain before becoming pregnant again. She is due to welcome her second child in January. All of this while working full time in an international school, most recently earning a promotion into the Pedagogical Leadership Team.
Throughout this impressive juggling act, Rose has been supported by husband Anthony Hopewell. The pair met at their Hong Kong rugby club and Anthony, 43, was barracking for his wife back in May when she was on tour in Fiji, playing for Hong Kong.
Rose said: “I feel very honoured to receive the award and so grateful that Sunderland has such programmes for long-distance learners.
“There is no award for juggling multiple commitments in one’s personal life. An international sporting representative, a full time worker, a part time distance learner and becoming a mother – which will soon be twice - in just two years has been hectic yet so rewarding to say the least.
“Whilst we all strive to achieve goals in our careers post graduation, it is so nice to have an award that recognises the individual achievements in someone’s personal life as an amalgamation that can be celebrated wholly. Thank you University of Sunderland.”