Up Close With NINA WONG (MINN. '14)
Giving back has been a consistent theme in Nina Wong’s experience as an Evans Scholar at the University of Minnesota.
Since arriving on campus nearly four years ago, Nina has organized food and blood drives, Relay for Life campaigns and has rallied her fellow Scholars and other students to cook breakfasts for veterans at a nearby American Legion post.
Her charitable streak has extended to the Scholarship House, where she has served as philanthropy chair and on the Executive Board as vice president of New Scholars. In that role, she helped new Scholars ease into community living and college life.
It is for her work in the community and in the classroom that Nina was named the 2013-14 Minnesota Golf Association Fritz Corrigan Evans Scholar of the Year. The award was established in 1993 to recognize a Minnesota Evans Scholar who excels in academics, leadership and community service. In 1996, it was renamed to honor longtime WGA Director Fritz Corrigan, who is considered a founding father of the Evans Scholars chapter at Minnesota.
“Nina has been a great leader and a positive influence on our program,” said Ede Rice, one of the leading WGA Directors in the state of Minnesota. “For the last four years she has been at or near the top as rated by her peers. She was more than deserving of this honor. It’s only fitting that she will be pursuing a career in nursing, an occupation perfectly suited for her kind and gentle nature.”
It is her interest in nursing and psychology that led Nina, a native of Hopkins, Minn., who caddied at Oak Ridge Country Club, to an opportunity she says changed her life.
For more than two years, Nina has worked at a group home for those with physical and mental disabilities. There, she has assisted residents with their daily personal care, participation in various activities and transportation to medical appointments.
“The experiences that I’ve had in the group home have taught me so many things about myself and about the inherent goodness of others,” Nina said. “The fun and joy felt by some of the residents have provided me memories that will last the rest of my life. Working there has given me a new perspective on life and what’s really important.”
Nina plans to graduate in the spring and work full-time while studying for the Graduate Record Examination. She hopes to apply to graduate nursing school in the fall to pursue a master’s degree.
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A FAMILY TRADITION
Her brothers, Jason (Minn. ’07) and Alex (Minn. ’10) also caddied at Oak Ridge Country Club and were Evans Scholars. Though she had seen, through them, what it meant to be an Evans Scholar, she was hardly prepared for the emotions she felt upon being awarded the Evans Scholarship herself. “I opened that letter and the tears just started flowing,” Nina said. “It was an incredible feeling to know that all my hard work had paid off and my future was about to change.”
CATCH HER IF YOU CAN
Nina is an avid runner. A member of her high school track team, she has found fun ways to incorporate her fellow Scholars in her fitness routine. “This past fall, I ran the Monster Dash Half Marathon around Halloween with a couple other Evans Scholars, and we had a blast getting dressed up,” she said. “I hope to run the Twin Cities Marathon this fall.”
NO FAIR WEATHER FAN
Despite their recent struggles, Nina remains a die-hard Minnesota Twins fan. “When I was younger, going to Twins game was always a fun family tradition,” she said. “I am still a huge Twins fan, even if they have been playing terribly the last few years. I’m forever a Twins fan, regardless.”