Forward Friday: Flora Wong

There are heroes and role-models who invoke inspiration everywhere we look, we just might not always truly see or appreciate them. Which is why I'm going to switch things up again within this "Forward Friday" edition. Today's Forward Friday is going to highlight a woman very near and dear to our Her Campus La Verne hearts: our former president, Flora Wong!

Flora is a currently a senior public relations student at the University of La Verne. From the moment I personally met Flora while I began to express interest in joining Her Campus, she was such an adorable bundle of joy, but since then, I have learned that she is so much more than that. Flora is a bad-ass trailblazer who has accomplished so much at our campus and I know she will go on to accomplish still so much more in her life after college. My motivation to give Flora the awareness she deserves in this article was that she was the very first student to bring TEDx to La Verne as her senior project. As I attended the event with excitement, it dawned on me that even as just a student, Flora did not let a single complication, barrier, or stereotype bring her down. Age, nor professional status do not matter in regards to achieving success orr doing something that actually matters. 

I had the privilege to interview Flora in order to gain some better insight on herself and her motives, especially some regarding the TEDx event and how she persevered in order to make it happen for the University of La Verne.

 

Jackie Sanchez: What goals do you plan to achieve for the remaining and after your college career?

Flora Wong: Every brand, as well as individuals, have stories to tell. Stories that will not only engage, inform, and impact their audience, but that will also deliver measurable outcomes. This is the reason why I love meeting new people and hearing new stories. Whether the individual is ten years younger or ten years older, I seek to learn from listening, which is why I want to be a conduit for telling stories and impacting lives through media and community relations. 

I will be graduating a semester early at the end of 2018. I plan to spend next semester on the lookout for jobs that match my values of lifelong learning and work ethic. Preferably, I want to work in the field of Community Relations or Media Entertainment. I feel I am not a person to just go to school and go home and do my homework. I like to stay busy so I have projects on the side, like my TEDx event. I have a few projects lined up for next semester involving logo design for the Communications Department and interior design for a small business in Arcadia. I'm definitely excited!

 

Are you inspired by/ do you stand with any movements going on at the moment? If so what, and why?

Flora: I love when protest movements become brands. I range from reading news on the queer movement to education rights movements. Trending ones now are #NotAllMen, similar to the #MeToo movement, exposing the rigid expectations of masculinity and how it is finally expanding and shifting. I also very up to date on the womens' movement and I love reading about expanding cultural and societal norms. For example, the documentary Miss Representation and the #AskHerMore movement about how to rethink representations of women and girls in TV shows, movies and more. I also keep up with education movements. Recently, the biggest education story of 2018 involves mobilized labor. Thousands of teachers and other school employees have organized strikes in West Virgina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, and Arizona - all states that pay teachers at $7,000 less than the national average salary of $59,660. One of my biggest value is lifelong learning so I support all educational movements regarding teachers. I love movements because it shows the diverse uphill battles, the pathway, or the end goal - and it makes every idea a little clearer every time. 

 

How do you plan on implementing the beliefs of that movement with your future plans/goals?

Flora: I think the better question to ask myself is: What could the future of womanhood/manhood look like with these new beliefs? I think being an advocate to starting these new conversations can open new doors for personal reflection from your peers, friends, and loved ones. We need to talk to our children from a young age and teach them about respecting others and believing in equality and autonomy of all people. There is always more to know and more to learn so I plan on spreading all of my knowledge and ideas through conversations! 

 

Did you start any clubs, organizations, or programs at La Verne? If so, what was it and why did you decide to start it at La Verne?

Flora: As a student, I think we're always constantly asking ourselves the question "What will the University do for me? How is my University compared to other ones? How will my University impact my career?" My objective in school when I joined as a freshman was to gain meaningful experiences while learning from experience. Coming closer to my second year and now my last semester at the University, I realized I didn't want to "gain" experiences anymore - I wanted to "impact" "create" and "foster" experiences for the University and others around me. I realized the importance of exploring the world with inquisitive eyes and offering a helping hand to others. I was a founding class of the first Co-ed Business Fraternity on campus, I designed my first logo for LeoVision, a student-found, and student-driven digital signage business in the University, I was Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus La Verne for a year and a half, I currently serve as the Marketing Chair for Campus Activities Board and market to over 800 students on campus, and most recently, I curated and organized the first TEDx at the University. Current upcoming projects involve designing the Communications Department logo, working with University Advancement on making TEDx a reoccurring event for Homecoming Week at the University. I always want to be an advocate for encouraging positive experiences, sharing new ideas, and cultivating new friendships to impact the greater world.

 
What inspired you to bring TEDx to the University of La Verne/why is it important?
 
Flora: TED and TEDx, being a global platform devoted to spreading ideas of any topic from science, to technology, to global issues, has inspired me to curate the first Tedx at the University of La Verne called TedxUniverstiyofLaVerne. Shared thinking has always been an interest of mine in various fields and has the ability to gather a collaborative interest – to share ideas, welcome new perspectives, and gain a better understanding of the world and those around you. The TED and TEDx platform form a certain but pliable base for multiple disciplines featuring art, engineering, philosophy, science, worldly views, medicine and more. It gives individuals of the community the platform to share their ideas and impact their peers, and eventually, the world. 

This platform has always been an inspiration for me through my high-school to college career and it continues to be every day. I watch and listen to TED and TEDx talks every day as my mantra because I never want to stop learning. I believe we can learn the most by listening to others and it's surprising to me how interesting people are. Being the Curator, I knew I wanted to organize a speaker series which show the different disciplines a student, professor, and a person in the professional world can offer to others.

It's always been a dream of mine to curate an event like this and having it debut just two days ago, is still surreal. The importance of the event dawned on me not long ago - as the event showcased the University as a whole, brought publicity to the University of La Verne community, as I received a full 100 attendance (as TEDx rules) and an 150 people wait-list. Even the President attended the event! It was an honor to host as it was in collaboration with so many La Verne community organizations and departments. I can't thank everyone enough.   

Were you always confident that you would make it happen?

Flora: To be honest, I had doubts, insecurities, and days where I didn't know what was my next step. I knew this project was going to be a big one because I was going to make it big. Having to reach out to different departments, constantly answering emails and phone calls, interviewing and reviewing over 80 applicants, while managing two jobs and school? It was hard. What drove me everyday since the day I decided to apply for my TEDx license - is my passion for sharing ideas. Throughout my University career, if I was to leave with one quote, it would be this: whether the individual is ten years younger or ten years older, you can always learn something from someone you don't know. Have more conversations and say hello to strangers more, it'll impact your day and maybe your life, people are amazing and sometimes they don't even know it." Without the support from multiple organizations and departments of the University, this project wouldn't have happened so it's all thanks to the La Verne community as a whole. 

I would just love to reiterate again how amazing Flora is and how much of an inspirational impact she has been on me and many other students at University of La Verne. I'm essentially grateful that she took time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions, along with granting me the opportunity to write about such a strong, beautiful, female role-model such as herself. I truly believe Flora Wong has many great ideas and plans up her sleeves and will leave her positive mark on our society and all I wish is that I will be able to see it happen with my own eyes. I'm proud to say that such an incredible mind such as Flora's has cultivated and made a difference on our campus, even within our own Her Campus La Verne!

 

*All photos featured within this article were provided by Flora Wong