Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Valedictorian law student thanks peer for sacrifice

KIND GESTURE Lei Chia-chia gave up her spot on the National Defense University's admission list for Chang Ying-hua because Chang's family suffered financially

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian shakes hands with National Defense University graduates at the Fuxinggang campus in Taipei's Beitou District yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

With years of hard work behind her, Chang Ying-hua (張穎華) graduated from the National Defense University's law department yesterday as the valedictorian. But Chang had less to say about her own outstanding performance than the sacrifice of another student that made her studies at the university possible.

Chang expressed her gratitude to Lei Chia-chia (雷家佳) -- who gave up her spot at the university four years ago for Chang -- adding that she would continue to work hard to honor Lei's kind gesture.

"I will serve as a court clerk at the Taichung Military Prosecutors' Office. But before that, I will visit Lei at her home in Kaohsiung," Chang said.

Chang, along with another 681 graduates from five military academies, received her bachelor's degree in law at the university's Fuxinggang campus in Taipei. But Chang stressed that her accomplishment would not have been possible without Lei.

Lei also graduated this year, from National Chengchi University's law department.

Four years ago, Lei passed her university entrance exam and was accepted at the National Defense University. Chang was listed as a priority alternate for admission to the law program.

Both Chang and Lei hoped to attend military academies because they were from poor families. When Lei was accepted and Chang put on the alternate list, Lei decided to give her spot to Chang because Chang and her family had lost their house to the 921 earthquake and had been struggling financially ever since. Lei said at that time that Chang needed the chance more than she.

"I cannot not tell you how I appreciate her sacrifice," Chang said. "I shall continue to perform well, not for myself, but for Lei."

Commencement began when President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) and Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu (李天羽) arrived at 9am.

Chen encouraged the entire graduating class to "fight for the existence of the country."

"You are here for Taiwan's existence, for Taiwan's democracy and for the safety of Taiwan's citizens," Chen said. "I wish you all complete success in the future and hope you will contribute to the country independent of politics."

The commencement ended when all the graduates had their picture taken with the president, the premier, the defense minister and other high-ranking officers while throwing their caps in the air.

Graduates from the medical school began as first lieutenants while all the other graduates began as second lieutenants or ensigns.

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