ALBANY -- Xian Wong is always on the move. Two weeks ago, the Albany High School graduate turned 19. Last week, she moved down to Southern California, where she will attend Loyola Marymount University. A couple of days before her birthday, she was up in Portland, teaching martial arts.
That's the kind of drive that earned Wong a $1,000 scholarship through the Albany Educational Foundation. Wong is one of three Albany students who earned the scholarships, which were funded through a grant from Wells Fargo. The others went to Tenzing Dolma and Toai Tran.
"It was a really big surprise," Wong said of winning the scholarship. "I was really happy about it. Tuition is really expensive."
Wong has been on the move all of her life. She was born in Shansui District, China, and ended up in an orphanage. She was adopted by American parents and brought to Albany before her first birthday.
Coming from an orphanage has definitely had an influence on her.
"Because I'm from an orphanage, I do want to help people out," Wong said. "I'm fortunate to be adopted and have a normal childhood. Being healthy and being cared for. Being somewhere where somebody actually does care about you."
Wong's parents had previously adopted another girl from China -- Sita Wong will be a junior at Occidental College in Southern California this year. After her parents divorced and then remarried other people, Xian Wong ended up with four more step-siblings. She is the youngest in the family.
"Three siblings went to Albany High School," Wong said. "My step siblings played basketball and my sister played volleyball at the high school." As a result she was "going to a lot of games growing up. It was really nice because it's a small city."
Wong herself didn't play organized sports at the school, but has studied Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen, an Indonesian martial art, since she was in the second grade. She is now a third-degree black belt.
The family has traveled the world, giving Wong the opportunity to gather a wider perspective. That includes France, Italy and China, where she returned to the very orphanage she was adopted from.
"Because I'm not from the United States, I want to be knowledgeable of other cities and countries and what their politics are," Wong said. "I want to travel the world after (college). My goal is to go to six of the seven continents. I have three down. I want to study abroad. My parents want me to be rooted to my Chinese background but they also want me to be knowledgeable about the world."
Wong plans to pursue urban studies at Loyola. She participated in an environmental design, science, engineering and technology (EDSET) program at Albany High. She has also traveled to Alaska and is concerned about the environment after seeing the glaciers.
"I wanted to be in the environmental field or something that could help people," she said.