“Brilliant Futures” is the slogan that can be read all around campus from billboards to bus stops. Irvine has created a campaign around building excellence through our students in hope of a brighter future. While many of our oarsman embody excellence, leadership, and camaraderie, today’s story is of graduating senior, Ryan Wong.
Ryan came to Irvine with no knowledge of rowing or the intent of becoming a student athlete. He is not your typical rowing build at 5’9 and 135lbs as a freshman. Ryan accompanied a fellow freshman who did not want to attend the first day of practice alone. In Ryan’s first year as a freshman he made the 2nd Novice 8+ (comprised of all walk-on athletes) where he began to see the greater picture that rowing had to offer. Through his first year he found his deepest bonds being built with his fellow UCI Rowing teammates. Ryan wants to help the coaches & leadership create culture of academic excellence in the team.
Throughout Ryan’s sophomore year he found that working harder and inspiring his teammates to be the best, produced better results on and off the water. This mentality led him to a silver medal in the lightweight four category at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Championships. Ryan then applied this to his academic pursuit at Irvine. He started in a basic engineering position on the Electric Race Car Team and by putting in the hours & hard work found himself as the Lead Chief Electrical Engineer on the project.
After much success in his sophomore year, he wanted to climb the rankings on the rowing team for his junior year. He spent the off-season summer months training his tail off & came into the fall quarter as one of the fittest members of the team. He started to gain the respect of his teammates as a force not to be reckoned with. Through his achievement, Ryan started to gain the confidence in himself and became one of the leading members of the 2nd Varsity 8+, which placed 8th at the ACRA National Championship. Ryan’s confidence and leadership also got him inducted into Tau-Beta-Pi The National Honors Engineering Society.
During his senior year, Ryan found himself reflecting on his experience at Irvine & all the University has taught him up to this point. With the mindset on Brilliant Futures, Ryan was still striving to be the best version of himself. He continued his pursuit and found himself in the bow seat of Irvine’s Varsity 8+. Through all the strokes and racing, the sweat and stress, he was driven to spend his senior season in the Varsity 8+ in pursuit of a National Title.
Ryan came to me one morning after practice and asked me about the process of applying to the US National Team. I believe I said yes, your scores are competitive and your drive and passion is unmatched, “the only race you cannot win is the one you don’t put your bow ball on the line for”. With the season coming to an abrupt end, I personally didn’t think much about it until Ryan rang me and said “Coach I did it! I made the U23 Lightweight camp!” Only two club athletes were selected for this camp, with all other athletes coming from D1 programs.
In the end, Ryan came to Irvine because he liked the atmosphere at UCI, and through his development at the University he graduated with 3.8 GPA in Electrical Engineering, is a Tau-Beta-Pi member, was the Chief Engineer for the Electrical Race Car Team, helped change the culture of UCI Rowing and made the US National Team.
Ryan Wong is the perfect embodiment of a student striving for a Brilliant Future!