Student Profile: Aloysius Wong

Aloysius Wong, a second-year commuter student at Vic, admits that interdisciplinary work can be challenging, but he also says that it has been the best way to meet people and that it has opened up doors for him in terms of academic opportunities. “As a peace, conflict and justice studies student with a minor in computer science, I’m fortunate to learn from two, very different disciplines,” he says, “and by being able to participate in both, it feels like I’m gaining so much more than what I would learn in a single classroom.”

Apart from intramural sports and VicXposure, a photography club, Wong joined Ideas for the World in his first year. Ideas for the World is an innovative, umbrella program that emphasizes the importance of “real world” issues and the porousness of the boundary that artificially separates academia from the broader society. “The program was challenging on different levels, but it helped me grow both as a student and as an individual. The program is open to the public and so I was able to meet numerous people outside the university setting. Their backgrounds and experiences coming into the program were very different from mine and I learned a lot from them—more than I expected when I first heard and read about the program.”

Wong credits the support of his parents as one of the biggest contributors to his undergraduate success. “My parents met studying philosophy and are open-minded about giving me the freedom to choose what I want to study. Even before I began at UofT, my dad would often invite me to come to campus with him and attend public lectures, and really gave me a sense of what the academic life and what I might want to study.”

Living at home while attending university has not been without its challenges. “It’s hard to balance my responsibilities at home with my ‘new’ life as a student,” he says. “Between night classes, part-time work, a social life and studying, I’m away from home a lot and that’s not easy on my parents.” One way the Wongs deal with the tension around late nights is to abandon the notion of curfew. “It’s been helpful to talk less about when I think I might be home at the start of the day, and causing them to worry if I’m late, and instead being free to check in over text that I’m still out. As long as I can catch the last train home and they know I’m safe, it’s okay. It’s one solution that we’ve agreed on that also helps me feel more independent, more like my friends who live away from home.”

Next year, Wong hopes to give back to the Vic Community by applying to be a residence don. “I’d like to try living away from home and this feels like a logical next step for me. I have had so much support from peers, upper-year students and faculty, and this seems like a perfect way to give back. I want to become even more involved with extracurricular activities on campus, but commuting makes this difficult. Living downtown would actually give me more time for school and I think it would be fun to be completely immersed in the Vic and UofT communities. It’s easy to worry that I’ll work less if I’m not at home, but the truth is I’d be able to access more opportunities in research and other activities. Vic has been such a welcoming community so far and I’d like to help make it even better for all of its students.”