One of the best ways to truly understand a school is to ask students to tell their own stories, so join us in getting to know recent Crowell students and alumni and how they have been transformed — by professors, by fellow students, by God — during their time at Biola in our series, Character and Career: Stories of Transformation.
For many of us, comparing our “college self” with our “current self” can be both enlightening and amusing. For 2016 Crowell graduate Brandon Wong, there are things for which he’s thankful to “Biola Brandon” (the person he was during his Biola days), but there are other ways in which he’s glad to have moved past “Biola Brandon.”
“The Brandon who was at Biola would laugh at what I’m doing now,” said Wong. “Biola Brandon intensely wanted to pursue a career in Hollywood on the business side. I even interned for MGM to get my foot in the door. I still have thoughts of one day getting into that industry, but I am very happy where I am now.”
Brandon Wong is Indonesian-American and the first in his family to be born in the U.S. He graduated from Biola with a degree in Business Administration/Management, followed by a master’s in business management from the University of Texas. He shared some thoughts about Biola and how it prepared him for where he’s at now.
So what are you doing now?
I work at State Compensation Insurance Fund as a manager in the claims department. I help restore injured workers to the workplace, make workplaces safer, and provide fairly-priced workers’ compensation to policyholders in the state of California. I know that doesn’t sound really exciting, but I am passionate about what I do.
Why Biola, and why business?
I was using a shotgun approach, applying many places, but I missed the application deadline for Biola, so I sent a very apologetic letter to the admissions department along with my application. I was surprised when I received an acceptance packet with many colorful documents and trinkets, followed by a phone call asking me if I had any questions. I suddenly felt like a 5-star free agent so I was noncommittal, and hesitantly signed up for a campus tour. But I loved the Biola campus experience on that tour, and with some scholarships and additional financial aid, I was in. Looking back, I can see God’s movement in my life, and probably His laughter when he saw how big my head was.
I chose business very late in my college career. I figured that, in whatever field I ended up, business acumen and skills would provide a solid foundation. I’m glad “Biola Brandon” kept current Brandon in mind!
What did you discover about yourself at Biola?
God had a big part in getting me to Biola, but an even bigger part once I arrived. I wasn’t strong in my faith. “Biola Brandon” didn’t give God the priority he deserves. Sure, on the Biola application I could explain my beliefs, but I had really been taking my faith for granted. I believe God saw that and decided to press me a bit, so that I could really understand the gravity of my faith and what it means to actually be a Christian.
It was only after certain milestones that I was able to actually reflect on who I was and who I was becoming, and it got pretty deep at times. Was I naturally quiet and reserved? Definitely. But did I have the capability to lead in my own unique way? Also definitely. Did I struggle with my faith more than I anticipated? Absolutely. Prior to my time at Biola I never really spent substantive time analyzing why I believe what I believe. As a student it seemed the more I learned about Christianity, the more it seemed to antagonize me about what I really believed. But were these phases of spiritual crisis necessary? Again, absolutely. I needed them. I confidently declare that my faith now is much more intentional, deliberate, and resilient. I thank God for giving me the strength and courage to genuinely seek and develop my relationship with him.
Any especially supportive people?
Most of my professors were greatly supportive! However, I would consider Katie Tuttle as my primary mentor throughout my time at school (and even afterwards). She was my supervisor for my role as an Off-Campus Community Assistant. She served as leader, mentor, coach, counselor, and friend. Under her guidance, I gained a strong sense of what it was to be a leader, including self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and cultivating and maximizing others.
What did you learn from your internships?
In my internship with MGM, I learned that I could build strong working relationships with people from various backgrounds and adapt to new situations. I also learned that some people may strongly dislike folks coming from a “faith bubble.” Working in the entertainment industry gave me good exposure to the real world, so that I wouldn’t be so shell-shocked after Biola.
Would you have any advice for incoming business students?
I know how busy it can be as a business student, working hard to get good grades and all. I would tell you, please make the most of your Biola experience. “Biola Brandon” was busy: I commuted, worked on campus, and took a full load of classes every semester. So there were things I’d undoubtedly do differently: I wish I had spent more time enjoying the moment. I wish I had taken more time to talk to Crowell faculty/staff and develop those relationships. I wish I had joined more Biola events and gone to some of the things I was invited to but flaked on. I really do hate the phrase YOLO, but there’s some truth in it — make the most of your time at Biola and enjoy the ride.
I am blessed to have been at Biola, and deeply appreciate the school and the experience. I continue to utilize the foundation Biola has given me — my reinforced faith being a large part of that. Consider this an invitation — if anything I’ve said has been of any use, encouragement, insight, or entertainment, or you just want to talk to a Biola alumnus, feel free to reach out to me. My email is in the directory!
Learn more about Biola’s Business Administration program.