There wasn't a singular a-ha! moment or incident that sparked the gift to support students at UC San Diego. Rather, it was the result of a culmination of encounters and observations that Subert Wong had experienced over many years, including a growing wonder of the nature of philanthropy in America.
Born and raised in Hong Kong and educated in the United Kingdom, Subert moved to the United States in the mid-1980s. He was soon working in the insurance industry, and met and married Jing Wang, a violinist who had been recruited to USC from the China National Symphony Orchestra after earning a degree at the Central Conservatory of Music, Bejing. Jing and Subert have two daughters, and he heads his own insurance agency in Alhambra, California.
Through his work, Subert grew increasingly curious about clients who designated hospitals, schools and other nonprofits as beneficiaries for life insurance policies, in particular a woman who set up a policy specifically to provide a university with $5 million when she died. He was struck by the gesture, and by the tremendous impact it would have on people the woman would never know.
"I began wondering about why Americans give away so much money. Why was it so joyful for them? There must be a reason."
And he began to ask himself, "What is joyful to me?"
He decided he wanted to help others, "and especially people I don't know very much about." Subert set out to establish a planned gift at a university that would support African American university students, funded through a life insurance policy. "I know very little about people of African American descent, but I do know and believe that there is an area of great need in terms of being able to afford higher education."
He first approached a local university but they were unable to reach an agreement on the desired designation and outcomes of his gift. Still, he remained adamant about what his legacy would be and who he wanted to help. What would bring him joy.
While attending an open house event at UC San Diego with his newly enrolled daughter, Clara, the thought occurred that he might fulfill his philanthropic vision here. A few inquiries later he was connected with the Office of Planned Giving, and learned he could achieve what he'd envisioned: a life insurance-based scholarship for U.S.-born African American undergraduates with a GPA of 3.0 and above, through the Chancellor's Associates Scholarship Fund.
Yet, Subert insists, "I am doing this for myself. I've been able to raise my children well, giving them a good education and well-rounded exposure to outside school activities. We've provided them with decision-making liberties, and above all, introduced them to the love of Christ as the foundation of their life journeys. And they became princesses of the house! As they grew into their teen years, oftentimes they disappointed me badly. I thought, they'll soon be adults and what else can I give them, teach them, for life?"
So Subert decided that his last gift to them will be this: When they receive and deliver confirmation of their father passing away, they will know that there is a community of people who will benefit. He believes that statement of love will deepen their understanding of how to live a productive life.