Monday, March 7, 2016

Finding the right fit: Ask this admissions staffer

Assistant Director of Admission Matthew Wong
and Admission Counselor Regine Gonzales. 
Assistant Director of Admission Matthew Wong (BA ’12) joined the Hawai‘i Pacific University community in 2008 as a student. Wong, a graduate of Moanalua High School in Honolulu, knew of HPU through friends and family. He learned more about the university from his high school college counselors, who he credits as “amazing.”  

“The small class sizes, over the large lecture hall format,” made HPU “a better fit (for me),” over other universities, he said.

Additionally, Wong received a band scholarship, helping him financially while allowing him to continue his passion of playing music.            

Reflecting back on his undergraduate experience as a psychology major, Wong acknowledged many HPU faculty, and also staff, who influenced him and the education he received.

“I know all the professors and what’s great is that they know me,” he said. “I really appreciate that they take the time to get to know you.”   

Outside of the classroom, Wong stayed active in downtown campus life. He played the drums in the band, and as a member of the Psi Chi International Honor Society, served as its president.  

Wong said he “naturally made friends from all over the world,” through his academic and co-curricular experiences. “I met my wife (at HPU) and she’s from Sweden. I have friends from Africa, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Europe.”

As a result of the exposure to classmates from other countries, Wong has been bitten by the travel bug. He has been to eight countries to date and is thinking about where he wants to travel to next.   

As for Wong’s career path to admissions, it began in his junior year as a part-time tour guide. In his senior year, he became an admissions intern, fulfilling a practicum requirement for his degree.

A month before graduating, an admissions counselor position opened up at HPU and Wong decided to apply. He received a call back for an interview, was offered the position and started in June 2012. In 2015, he was promoted to assistant director.  

One of Wong’s job duties is to run the campus tour guide program, which employs six students. There are five tour guides and a tour coordinator under his charge, and having been a campus tour guide himself, Wong “finds (the role) very gratifying.” 

In his fourth year working full time in Admissions, Wong’s first admitted students are nearing graduation. One student he met on a neighbor island visit was not seriously considering college. Wong saw his potential and talked further with him about HPU. The student found HPU to be a good fit for him, ended up getting a merit scholarship, now serves as a Peer Academic Coach and will graduate next year.            

“I just remember him telling me, ‘Matt, if it wasn’t for you, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college.’ It’s great to know this kind of position has that kind of effect on people,” said Wong.     

Wong, who is a proponent of higher education and the opportunities and experiences it offers, is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Communication at HPU.

“For me, going to college allowed me to do so many things that I would not take back,” he said.

Through his work in Admissions, Wong shares his enthusiasm for the benefits of higher education with the next class of prospective HPU students.

“Go for it! Every student, they know I say this,” he said. “There’s opportunity out there. You just have to take the leap.”

Wong (back, right) with student campus tour guides,
Jack, Cree, Angela, Brandon, Andrea and Avery. 

Don’t miss HPU Preview Day: Saturday, March 12, 2016, Aloha Tower Marketplace, 8 a.m. check in and validated parking will be available.

Meet Matt Wong and his Admissions colleagues, faculty, staff, alumni and students. Learn about HPU and its undergraduate programs and student services. More information and RSVP link here.  

If you are unable to join HPU Preview Day, campus tours are held Monday through Friday, with the exception of University holidays, 8:30 a.m., starting at the Aloha Tower Welcome Center. Optional faculty meetings are also able to be arranged. For more information and to schedule a visit, go to:

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