The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Elizabeth Wong

Photo by Ariel Richards.
Photo by Ariel Richards.

Elizabeth Wong `22 had always intended to become a pre-med student and therefore fulfilled that desire by majoring in biochemistry at Grinnell. However, in addition to choosing an intensive major, Wong also chose to add a philosophy major as another challenge. She said, “I was really bad at it, so I just decided to challenge myself and major in it.” 

Wong said she especially values her time at Grinnell which she said has been “full of blessings, hardships and silver linings.” 

She considers herself someone who has had “both sides of the academic experience.” She said, “there are some professors like Professor Mobley who really show love and passion in their teaching, and then there are others who curve tests and create toxic competitive classes.”  

Her favorite classes were her chamber ensembles where she “didn’t feel like it was a class, but rather just a fun activity.” 

Wong has also been dedicated to not missing a single valuable event on campus, most being events with free food. 

“I love free food. I used to make a spreadsheet of all events on campus and add pictures of flyers as I walked past them. I also kept track of emails and color-coded events with, of course, events with free food being in red because I just couldn’t miss them,” said Wong. 

Such events weren’t all about the food, however, as Wong made cherished connections along the way.  

“I met one of my closest friends through Lesbian Brunch. At first, I didn’t hear ‘Lesbian Brunch.’ I heard ‘free food,’ but it quickly turned into something much more,” she said. 

However, her endeavors to eat as much free food as possible were put to a sudden halt during her second-year spring semester when she had to evacuate the campus because of a “raging new pandemic.” 

“I just assumed during that time that we’d return next fall, but that did not happen, and over the summer it was made more and more clear that we won’t be returning anytime soon,” she said. 

Despite the pandemic, Wong was still able to find the silver linings and appreciated “spending a lot of time with family and the dog.” She also tried to make the most out of the pandemic-induced quarterly academic model and “breeze through her major classes.” 

The pandemic did prevent her from doing a lot of the activities she loved, including drag, chamber ensembles, ballet, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, finding free food and making new friends. 

“We just lost a lot of culture over COVID. A lot of the friends that I have met and am currently very close to were made through events that have food, and that was simply not an option during COVID,” said Wong. 

After quarantine, she returned to campus and now lives off-campus. Wong enjoys having her own kitchen and “some peace and quiet,” yet dislikes having “a longer hike to campus and seeing the occasional dead cat, which is very sad,” she said. 

Wong also had a few bad experiences with townspeople, describing local landlords as “slumlord millionaires that rob students” and citing “a really bad interaction with someone that made me feel unsure of myself and my sexuality and my gender,” she said.  

In fact, this interaction was a driving force for her to join this year’s Drag Show as “The Ace of Spades.”  

“After that encounter, I thought of joining two days before the show. I’m glad that I did because I feel like it really made me more connected with the community and was really reaffirming for me,” Wong said. 

Wong has had firm mottos that have guided her Grinnell experience. Most importantly: “I live life by trying to treat people in a way that I would not regret. I want to make sure that the people around me are cared for.” 

She said, “Grinnell is a place for you to learn something new and make friends with people you have never made friends with before. This campus is so small that if you are mean to someone, it spreads around and just creates a bad effect that ripples through all of us.” 

After graduation, Wong hopes to return home to Philadelphia and become a full-time researcher. 

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About the Contributor
Nick El Hajj
Nick El Hajj, Editor in Chief
Nick El Hajj, hailing from Beirut, Lebanon, is a fourth-year political science and economics major. In his free time, Nick enjoys delving into a good book, embarking on scenic drives and indulging in random documentaries. You’ll frequently find Nick waking up way too early to enjoy a peaceful morning of fishing at Arbor Lake.
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