Meet this year’s Schulich Leaders: Jordon Hong
With an outstanding academic record and remarkable volunteer work, Jordon Hong is entering the Faculty of Science as one of the University of Manitoba’s Schulich Leaders and beginning his journey in the computer science program.
Hong’s decision to pursue a career in computer science stems from his interests in middle school, with video games and coding being central to his hobbies at the time. Playing video games may not seem like a common starting point for someone’s academic career, but Hong’s story exemplifies a student’s ability to find their calling when they have the chance to focus on areas of their education and interests that fascinate them most.
“I realized that applications of technology had the power to positively impact the world,” Hong says, as he looks forward to being a leader in this evolving industry. “There are so many ways to use computer science. It is a really versatile field and a much needed job sector in the world right now.”
Hong’s interest lies in exploring the intersection between society, linguistics, and technology, and he’s determined to find his own career path without confining himself to a mold. Working with language in computing is an area where he thinks he can integrate his skills and education in computer science with his curiosity for languages. “There are lots of ways for technology to help preserve many dying languages and help keep them alive for future generations by making them accessible online,” he says.
Another application that he hopes to engage in is natural language processing, which involves programming computer systems to understand and interpret information from text and speech the way that humans can. He is particularly interested in analyzing the role that programming language has in creating and promoting biases, such as a lack of diversity in systems with English being a dominant language.
While attending Miles Macdonell Collegiate, one of Hong’s most rewarding experiences was becoming a leader for the school chapter of Makers Making Change, a larger organization with a mission to connect makers, like engineers, hobbyists and more, with people with physical disabilities. The chapter was involved in making assistive technology more accessible to people who need it.
He was also the founder of his high school’s Hack Club as there was previously no space for students to take part in coding programming at the school. Creating possibilities for students to connect through programming is another way that Hong has actively contributed to addressing barriers some people face when engaging in this area of study.
“These are just some examples of how technology can be used for many different things, these ones being for the community itself,” Hong explains. “I believe the world needs leaders in science devoted to technology for community, not for commercialism.”
Now being named as a Schulich Leader and being awarded an $80,000 scholarship, this is only the beginning for Hong. “It is a big honour to be named a Scholar. Being able to join the network of other Scholars and collaborating with them on other projects is very exciting,” says Hong, as he is eager to learn and draw inspiration from other Scholars’ work.
The teachers at Miles Macdonell who recommended him for the scholarship see nothing but good things for him in the future.
“This young man is one of the most passionate, intelligent, intuitive, ambitious and kind-hearted students I have taught in nearly 24 years of teaching high school,” Stacey Pellaers, his international baccalaureate biology teacher, says in her endorsement letter for Hong. “His drive to succeed, and more importantly, to make his mark on the world in a way that leaves it better than he found it, is admirable and enviable. Jordon has gifts that he knows how to hone, develop and cherish in a way that I truly believe will be a huge benefit to science, technology and society.”
The Schulich Leader Scholarship is awarded every year to students enrolling in a STEM program at a Canadian university. Hong was selected for the entrance award based on his academic achievements, leadership, and community service. He is one of two UM students to receive the award this year. Read about the other student, Darlene Cuevas.