A Sincere Heart
Therese Wang (Yang Chi-ying) arrived at Tunghai University in the fall of 1956, one of 200 members of the new school’s Class of 1960. “It was such a small campus,” she recalled, “but I received a big education.” Fifty years after graduation, the lessons from her undergraduate years at Tunghai continue to guide her. “Tunghai equipped me at a human level, as well as intellectually. It inspired me to contribute to the community, not only at the time, but throughout my life,” she said.
Tunghai’s liberal arts education “broadened my mind,” she explained, as it introduced her to eastern and western cultures, music, art, and philosophy, in addition to her major in economics, “and gave me the beginning of a global idea. All this enriched my life.” She was a shy girl when she arrived, but became a confident student. She earned pride in her work as well as a degree, lessons she later carried to the United States where she received her graduate degree in accounting and raised her family.
All this was possible because she received a scholarship at Tunghai. At the time, the source was anonymous, but she later learned that Elsie Priest, who worked in the Tunghai administrative offices, was the benefactor who paid scholarships from her own pocket.
Tunghai University has grown in the years since Mrs. Wang’s graduation: it’s now a comprehensive university with 17,000 students. Yet she knows there have always been Tunghai students like her, in need of financial assistance. “At the end of my first year, I had the idea that I wanted to give back in the future,” she said. “But my wish did not come true until the year 2000.” After an illness that year, she committed herself to providing scholarship money to her alma mater. It was not an easy step, as she and her husband were paying college tuition for one of their children and had other family responsibilities. But Therese Wang, her husband, her beloved friend, the late Dorothy Hwang (Wang The-hsin), and her husband, Emilian Hwang, pledged that “we will make it happen.”
That decision helped her reconnect with the United Board. “I first knew the United Board as a student – with a grateful heart,” as the United Board donations helped build and nurture Tunghai University from its founding in 1955 through its early years. Then, in 2001, she turned to the United Board to help administer the Tunghai Alumni and Friends Scholarship, an endowment to help students in need. The fund’s first scholarship was awarded in 2003.
Mrs. Wang fulfilled her wish to help young students. Now she has another wish: that her fellow Chinese and other Asians, who have earned wealth through their hard work, will donate funds to education. “It is our turn to help,” she said, “and I hope that, with a sincere heart, I can persuade them.”
Mrs. Wang recognizes that success is best accomplished by individuals working together. “May I express my great appreciation to my Tunghai University Class 1960 classmates, friends, and all other Tunghai University alumni for their generous donations to our alma mater over the years. I also would like to salute all the people who have contributed to education and other charities with their donations and kind service.”
(First published in Horizons in November 2011)