BELOIT - Beloit Memorial High School's (BMHS) newest Hall of Fame inductee John Wong encouraged students to consider volunteering.
"It doesn't cost anything and can be accomplished by everyone. It's volunteerism, giving back to society in a meaningful way without expecting anything in return," Wong said.
Wong, of the BMHS class of 1984, was inducted into the 25th Annual Hall of Fame on Friday morning. The event included a musical tribute by the BMHS choir and the jazz orchestra, and a presentation to Wong of the Hall of Fame plaque and a T-shirt by Director of Alumni Services Fran Fruzen.
Wong said the honor was overwhelming.
"I graduated 34 years ago and never imagined I would be recognized in this manner," he said.
Wong thanked his mother, Marion Wong, father, the late Gim Wong, his sisters, his wife, Becky, and his two sons.
Wong told students his grandparents came to Beloit from China nearly 100 years ago. His grandparents had seven children in Beloit.
"When my father was 14, his dad was shot and killed," Wong said.
Despite the tragedy, Wong said hard work and education remained imperative to his grandmother. Wong's father and siblings all graduated from college with advanced degrees and pursued successful careers.
Being a minority was difficult when Wong's father was growing up, with some restaurants not serving him.
Despite challenges in his family history, Wong said he's been blessed in Beloit and likes to give back. He encouraged students to find out what they are passionate, or even unsettled, about.
"Give up time, talent and money any way you choose," he said.
Wong told students to find mentors when possible and to not let others negatively influence their morals. He then shared a little bit about the volunteer efforts he is especially passionate about such as Literacy for Life, a newly formed community effort to expose children to literacy from birth and onward.
Wong said one of the highlights for his personal volunteer efforts was his work with Kids Against Hunger in 2010, when students at BMHS helped to package meals to be sent to children abroad. On Friday, Wong challenged students to join with the National Honor Society this fall to put a similar event together to send meals to impoverished people in Guatemala.
"It's an opportunity to do something for others you will never meet," he said.
Wong was born and raised in Beloit where he attended Converse Elementary School and Lincoln Junior High School. After graduating from BMHS in 1984, Wong went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, earning a degree in education. In 1999 he became a certified financial planner through the American College of Financial Planning.
He has spent the last 24 years working as a senior financial advisor for BMO Harris Financial Advisors. Wong has a long list of awards and accolades in his profession; including winning the Regional Financial Advisor of the Year Award four times, the BMO Harris Financial Advisor Dean Urbanski Award for Financial Planning Excellence (2014) and BMO Harris Corporation National Volunteer of the Year (2009).
Throughout his career, Wong has given back to the community of Beloit in many ways. He has served on numerous committees and boards for organizations such as the School District of Beloit, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Rotary Club of Beloit, Stateline Community Foundation, Sun Valley Presbyterian Church, Career-Tek, and Beloit Health Systems. He was one of the founders of Kids Against Hunger - Rock County Rotary, Inc., a leader of Impact Africa, and served as the lead coordinator to pack one million meals for Haiti, the Philippines and northern Wisconsin.