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Hamline University Graduate Erik Wong on the Value of College Football

July 23, 2014

by Erik Wong (Hamline University Class of 2014 and Dublin High School Class of 2010)

Erik Wong

Erik Wong

After high school I went to Hamline University. At Hamline I played football for all 4 years as I worked towards my degree. I graduated May 24 this year with a bachelor of arts in criminal justice. Being a student athlete for all 4 years at Hamline really taught me an important life skill: time management. I was able to balance taking 4 classes every fall semester on top of morning football meetings/workouts and afternoon and evening meetings and practices. My average football season daily schedule went from 6am-7pm with an hour break somewhere in between. I managed to not only remain dedicated and motivated on the football field but I also managed to keep my studies up and maintain passing scores in class.

Football has been a part of my life for a long time. I’ve been playing the game since I was 8 years old. I played all the way through high school at Dublin High, and into college at Hamline. It was really sad having my football career end. My mom and dad flew up to see my last home game on senior day and again two weeks later to see my last college game. I have met many people in my years playing football at Hamline, people I would have not otherwise met. We all became good friends outside the field. In addition to time management, football also helped me develop useful skills like teamwork, the ability to work under stress, leadership, and a strong work ethic.

Erik with Hamline friends

Erik with Hamline friends

Once football ended I had no idea what to do with my life. I had a lot of free time. I continued to study but with my additional free time I decided to use it to relax and unwind, allow my body and mind to rest and recover. It was during the end of the fall semester of my senior year when I learned what I really wanted to do with my life; I wanted to work as a crime scene investigator. I came back for the January term and completed a course on questioned document examination and latent print examination. In these courses I learned how to properly collect and process different kinds of evidence in the field, for example I learned different types of handwriting patterns and learned how to recreate missing documents through indented handwriting. In latent print examination I learned how to properly identify and compare all kinds of fingerprints.

During the spring semester, my last semester at Hamline, I focused on finishing my criminal justice degree while searching for an internship. I took courses in personality psychology, and crime scene investigation. I also found my internship at The Link’s Evening Reporting Center, The Link is a non-profit organization in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The Evening Reporting Center branch of The Link is part of the Hennepin County juvenile detention alternative initiative. The juveniles sent to the program are on probation. The program was designed to teach the youth clients about alternatives to conflict resolution and to change their way of life, to help them avoid a future life of crime. My job was to oversee and observe behavior and write up daily logs for each of the clients. In the daily logs I talked about how the clients did for the day, if they had any behavior problems and if they improved or got worse from the previous day. At the end of the week I wrote up a weekly report summarizing the daily logs, which were sent to the clients’ probation officers.

Hamline Football Senior Day

Hamline Football Senior Day

At my internship site I was quickly known for taking the initiative. I wanted to do all the daily and weekly logs, I wanted to help set up for all the activities. Towards the end of my internship I volunteered to give a presentation on motivation. My motivation presentation engaged the clients, I appealed to their interests in sports and included quotes from several athletes such as Michael Jordan, Ray Lewis, and Eric Thomas. The highlight of my internship experience was during my motivational speech which included quotes from Mark Twain. I said that if you want to have a different view on the world look read Mark Twain.

A few days later during free time I saw a few of my clients looking up Mark Twain quotes and writing them down. It was a proud moment for me. I also took a trip to a teen job fair in downtown Minneapolis, and took it upon myself to hold a resume building seminar for the clients since most of them have never seen a resume. While in high school I never really saw a good resume example, so I took it upon myself and asked around and collected 17 different resumes. I removed personal information from the resumes, compiled them into a cloud file and gave them to all my clients. My internship coworkers and supervisors were sad to see my internship over. While the internship did not lead directly to a job, I gained three valuable references.

Hamline Football Senior Day

Hamline Football Senior Day

In school I learned all about actual crime scene investigation, and gained the knowledge and the education experience needed to pursuit job openings in my field. Eventually my semester came to an end and for the first time in years I felt comfortable about how well I had done. Up until graduation day I spent my final days hanging out with the friends I’ve made since the first day of Hamline. When graduation came, it was a bittersweet day for me. I was happy to finally be done with a major milestone in my life yet was sad knowing that for the first time there were no guarantees. I knew coming out of high school I was going to attended college and play football. Now I enter a bigger world where I have to compete with people from all over the country for a handful of job openings. The graduation celebrations were short lived for me. After graduation I attended a small grad party with my football teammates since freshman year, Derek Wilson, Charlie Miller, Patrick Chilton, Brandon Vongkeo, and Dillion Schullo. The next day I left Minnesota to drive home with my family. I left Minnesota early because I had to be in Fresno a few days later for a potential job exam.

Since college ended I have talked to several minor league football coaches turning them all down; as much as I loved the game I felt it was time to retire from football because of the 6 concussions I have sustained in a 4 year period, (only 2 were actually from football but both put me in the hospitals). I have also filled out countless job applications from all over the country in the hope of finding a crime scene investigation job.

 

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