A Quarter Million Dollar Gift To Queensborough Community College
Although Amy and her late husband Pak both studied at several other institutions of higher learning, they frequently spoke of the special place that Queensborough held in their hearts as a community college because of its strong commitment to diversity, mentorship and quality education.
Indeed, Pak was deeply grateful to America for allowing him to achieve exceptional scholarly success, and he expressed his gratitude in a uniquely American way by dedicating himself to making a difference not only in teaching and research opportunities for his students, but also making a difference in the communities where he lived and worked.
“Pak, who was one of six siblings, was the only member of his family to attend college,” said his widow. “His immigrant journey to America was truly remarkable and he always felt a strong bond with his students, knowing that many of them shared a similar experience.”
A significant percentage of outstanding students at Queensborough are first-generation college students who persevere to obtain a quality education, no matter what obstacles they might face. They represent some 80 nationalities from over 100 countries around the world.
Dr. Wong was born in 1935 in the city of Zhongshan, China. As a youth, he was not particularly interested in school; however, he was a voracious reader and taught himself English by pouring through issues of Reader’s Digest.
Dr. Wong went on to Kings High School in Hong Kong where he discovered his passion for chemistry. He was determined to travel overseas to continue his studies in the sciences. His devoted mother, unable to read or write herself, encouraged her son to save his money to pursue his dream of getting an education. Eventually, he was able to travel to Australia where he obtained his Bachelor’s in Science degree from New South Wales University of Technology, in 1962. And it was in Australia where he met his wife, Amy, who at the time was enrolled at the University of Sydney.
In 1965, they left Australia and came to the U.S. where Dr. Wong was accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a master’s degree. He pursued his graduate work with Dr. John E. Willard, a prominent radiation chemist. Afterwards, he earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968.
In the early 70’s, Pak applied for a post-doctoral residency scholarship at Brookhaven National Research Laboratory. There, as a Research Associate, he co-published six scientific papers on the topic of physical chemistry.
During this period, he was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Queensborough Community College. His capacity to understand the academic needs of his students was coupled with his vision to introduce new technology, promote undergraduate research and open doors for aspiring women instructors in the department.
“Pak was one of the finest chemists that ever served our college,” said Paris D. Svoronos, a distinguished Professor of the Department of Chemistry for over 30 years. “We shared a vision to expand the department and to create more research opportunities for students, irrespective of their backgrounds.”#