When she was eight years old, Chin Wai “Rosie” Wong ’22 discovered that she enjoyed keeping a diary. She loved it so much in fact that one day she noted in it, “I want to be a writer.”
Throughout her education growing up in Hong Kong and mainland China and her undergraduate career at Hollins, Wong has indeed pursued a remarkable enthusiasm for communication. “I started doing communications work a long time before I came to Hollins,” she recalled. “I was a personality on my high school radio station’s English-speaking channel, and I helped plan and host student activities and performances, including my high school graduation. I’m so glad my school trusted me. I got the chance to work with other students with similar interests.”
Wong’s decision to attend college abroad had its genesis when her middle school summer camp traveled to the United States in 2013. “That was the inspirational moment where I thought, ‘This is somewhere I want to go,’ because I grew up with music, movies, and a lot of other cultural elements from the U.S. It was a part of me as I grew up.” While she never got to visit Hollins as a prospective student, she chose it because “it matched my criteria for undergraduate studies. I was looking for a liberal arts college with small class sizes. I did a lot of research on the majors Hollins offers, and I learned I could double major in communication studies and theatre, something that I always wanted to do.”
After coming to Hollins, Wong found that she could “study communication in a more systemic and scholarly way that just opens paths and makes me want to keep pursuing it.” Improving her ability to speak English fluently is also a source of delight. “It’s such a big compliment when I meet someone and they ask me, ‘Are you from here?’ Being physically in a space and communicating with local people is so different from learning English from a textbook, and I have learned not only what to speak about but how to speak as well. That’s why I see language as more than just a tool. It is everything.”
Wong’s theatre major complements her communications work. “I enjoy being in productions and meeting new people. There are such close relationships in the theatre space. The faculty and staff are collaborators who welcome your vision whether you are an actor, a designer, or serve in other roles.”
Wong has grown her skills as a writer through the internships she’s completed. During her sophomore year, she spent her January Short Term with Peace Boat US, a non-governmental organization in New York City that enables people from around the world to study global concerns such as war, environmental degradation, and gender violence. Wong worked on a variety of internal projects where extensive writing was needed. This year, she interned with the Global Communications team at The Estée Lauder Companies, also in New York City.
“Whenever you intern in an organization, you have things to learn,” Wong noted. “You learn about the culture of the organization. You have to learn how things are done and what you should do. You are not an isolated individual, because what you do affects many others. I definitely think that being a communication studies major helped me understand and practice that.”
As a contributor to The Teen Magazine, Wong is drawing upon her time as a Hollins student to inform high school students and ease their anxieties as they prepare for college. “I was inspired by my role as a tour guide last semester. I got to meet with students to introduce them to Hollins and explain what we have here. I thought, ‘Why not amplify such a message to almost anyone who is going to college?’” Her first article for The Teen Magazine earned over 1,000 views. “I was able to write about something that I’m really passionate about, and that’s my life experience.” She also served as an ambassador for Hollins’ international programs. “We have so many things to offer current and prospective students. And this is what I longed for before entering college.”
In her final semester at Hollins, Wong helped pioneer the launch of a podcast network for the university called HU Sound. She envisions podcast episodes covering a wide range of topics, but she is especially excited about one particular aspect. “I want to amplify faculty voices. I love working with all my professors and I want to hear their stories.” Fittingly, the first podcast Wong produced and hosted features Assistant Professor of Theatre and Theatre Department Chair Wendy-Marie Martin. As an alumna of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins and now the head of Hollins Theatre, “I thought it would be a very valuable moment for me and for the community to hear what she had to say,” Wong stated.
After graduation, Wong will be assisting the Global Communications team at The Estée Lauder Companies as the digital editorial consultant. She will be working with the Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization designed for international students who wish to remain in the United States to acquire work experience. Wong believes academic knowledge and professional practices go hand-in-hand in her growth and achievement.
She’s also taking the time to assess how her four years at Hollins have impacted her. “Being a college student really transformed me as a person. I am more confident now. I speak English more naturally. I’ve also cultivated a futuristic mindset. I love reminiscing and I feel nostalgic every now and then, but my action shows I’m always moving forward.” Even though coming to the United States for college meant physical and emotional distance from her parents back in China, “they have been very supportive, and they are impressed that I’ve come so far. My parents are very proud of me for being so insistent about English as a language and communication in a broader sense. They are also proud that I’ve become more independent and able to do things on my own. Now, I’m not just their daughter, I am also their closest friend.”