For the second straight season, the Syracuse University football team has qualified for a bowl game, the first time the Orange have secured back-to-back postseason appearances since the 2012 and 2013 seasons. After closing out the regular season with a…
Remembrance Scholar Alumni Vignette: Leo Wong ’14
Dec. 21, 2023, will mark the 35th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The bombing claimed the lives of 259 people on the plane, including students returning from a semester of study abroad through Syracuse University, and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie.
The Remembrance Scholar and Lockerbie Scholars programs were established one year later. Since that time, the University has awarded 1,190 Remembrance Scholarships to Syracuse University students and welcomed 68 students from Lockerbie to Syracuse for a year as Lockerbie Scholars. Now, in this community and throughout the world, they act forward on behalf of all the promising lives lost too soon.
Now until the anniversary on Dec. 21, we will feature some of the alumni who were named Remembrance or Lockerbie Scholars over the past 34 years, to learn how they are impacted by their Remembrance experience and how they continue to live the Remembrance mission to “Look Back. Act Forward.”
The first vignette features Leo Wong ’14, a native of San Gabriel, California, and current resident of Las Vegas, Nevada. Wong earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was a Remembrance Scholar during the 2013-14 academic year.
Subsequent vignettes will be featured on remembrance.syr.edu.
01What career are you engaged in?
Currently, I wear a few different hats. I am…
- the owner and operator of Tender Loving Home, a memory care and assisted living home in Home in Las Vegas
- vice president for product development for a senior housing startup
- senior marketing strategist for lunchbox packs, an anti-theft hydration pack geared toward music festival goers
- a realtor
02What pursuits do you engage in outside of work?
I conduct career preparedness workshops for students at different universities, am an avid electronic music festival goer, a frequent Zumba class attendee, a house plant enthusiast, and a dog and fish parent.
03Which Pan Am 103 victim did you/do you represent?
Syracuse University student Steven Russell Berrell
04What kind of impact did being a Remembrance Scholar have on you during your Remembrance year? How does it continue to impact you? How did it/does it influence your career and other pursuits?
Simply put, I was able to make a profound connection with someone that I’ve never met before and unfortunately will never meet. On paper, we had so many similarities as Newhouse students who studied abroad, loved music and were a part of the same fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. Even the way that Steven’s loved ones described how he lived life was very similar to how I had been living mine.
But the moment that really made me realize that the pain of Steven’s loss was still very real, even 25 years later, was when I embraced his mother, Sally, for the first time at the Rose-Laying Ceremony in 2013. I am very fortunate that most of the Berrell family was in attendance at the 25th anniversary of the Pan Am 103 tragedy, so I was able to make a personal connection with them. And I’m happy to say that we’ve continued to remain in each other’s lives as I still keep in touch and have seen many of Steven’s family members to date.
Being a Remembrance Scholar was the most meaningful experience I had at Syracuse and it continues to remind me that life truly can be short. As such, I must live life to the fullest every single day and make a positive impact to the people and communities around me.
05What is the most important thing you want people to know about and take away from the Pan Am 103 tragedy?
From tragedy, comes unity in ways that are unexpected. As you may have learned, it brought the town of Lockerbie, Scotland (where the plane landed), and Syracuse together. This gave birth to a beautiful relationship between the two regions through the Lockerbie Scholarship, for example.
On a personal note, it brought myself and the Berrell family together. I’m certain that we would not have crossed paths had it not been for me becoming a scholar and representing Steven. Since then I’ve had many meals and shared many stories with the Berrell family. I was also fortunate to have been present with the Berrell family when Steven’s niece, Katie, represented him as a scholar in 2018. I’m so very grateful to the Berrell family for welcoming me into their lives.