William Y.K. Wong '58
When Mr. Wong came to Westminster College in the 1950s, it was the first time he had left his San Francisco home. He was grateful for the welcoming environment of the college, and the caring atmosphere helped him build his confidence. While attending school, he was in financial need and unsure whether he would be able to earn his degree. He washed dishes in the cafeteria for 75 cents an hour. A scholarship came to his aid and allowed him to graduate in 1958 with a degree in history. He considered the scholarship "a bonus one would never forget--and should reciprocate." After graduating from Westminster, Mr. Wong earned his teaching credentials at San Francisco State College. He also served two years in the Army before he became a sales representative for the California State Automobile Association. In 1994, the Wongs established their own scholarship to "give back what [they] have received." The Wongs set up the scholarship so that it includes community service as an important part of the criteria. It is their hope that it will "help to develop an ethic of caring for others in college students."
Both Willie and Gloria Wong are true philanthropists. They served as youth advisors in San Antonio in the ‘60s before returning to San Francisco to tackle the problems of Chinatown. At the time, the city was not equipped to handle the influx of young immigrants from Hong Kong, and street gangs troubled the community. Willie served in the Youth for Service organization to build bridges and act as a peacemaker. He also joined the Citizen Advisory Committee for Chinatown and worked with the Salvation Army to develop comprehensive programs for the youth and elderly.
Today, Willie and Gloria are active in the Presbyterian Church and serve as Elder and Deacon respectively. Through the church, Gloria volunteers to work with senior citizens and people
confined to their homes. Willie believes that "faith without work is dead. We must practice our faith, or lose it."
Willie and Gloria are now serving as ombudsmen in a federally funded program in the San Francisco community. They visit several secure nursing facilities weekly, to ensure that the patients are not abused in any way. In the process, they have made connections with both the patients, and the staff.
Further, the Wongs continue their involvement with Westminster. Mr. Wong has been a guest speaker at the annual scholarship luncheon. Mr. and Mrs. Wong are members of the Converse Club and holders of concert chairs in the Jewett Conservatory. In 2004 Gloria was thrilled to be made an honorary graduate of Westminster College.