Lisa Wong, LSO Past President and violinist/violist, received an honorary doctorate from Wheelock College on May 20, 2016. Continue reading below for Wheelock's beautiful write-up of her address to the students. We're proud to call Lisa one of our own!
Graduate Commencement Speaker Dr. Lisa Wong, a musician, pediatrician, author, and lifelong arts advocate, told the graduates that she grew up in Honolulu, where both her parents were the children of Chinese immigrants and the first in their families to go to college. Her father earned a law degree and was later appointed as the first Chinese-American federal judge in the U.S. Her mother was an elementary school teacher. Both parents instilled in all five of their children an appreciation for both education and music.
"Clear rules, structure, but with a sense of fun and a time for play—that's the recipe for lifelong learning," said Wong, who said her parents' approach launched her 50-year love affair with the violin. She joined a children's orchestra that traveled throughout the Hawaiian islands. "My violin, I found, was a change maker," she said. "My violin, the orchestra, and I traveled to other islands to play for schools where kids had never heard symphonic music."
During high school, the orchestra visited hospitals, where Wong said she learned how music can bring joy to children who were sick or in pain. By the time she left for college, she was determined to try to create a career path that somehow included music, education, health, and community service. She said she explored an opportunity to work as a pediatric cardiologist in a fast-paced ICU, but decided instead to become a family pediatrician and and founder of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra's "Healing Art of Music Program."
"I've come to understand and appreciate life's long view," she said. "In my practice, I care for children when they're born until they graduate from college. That is a privilege."
Wong urged the graduates to embrace the arts, no matter what field they choose. "Students of every age simply learn better through the arts; the playfulness, structure, and freedom of the arts are essential for all of us," she said. "A traumatized child may open up through a shared song. A non-verbal child may find her voice through drawing. The arts can't end with preschool curriculum. Incorporate the arts in every level."