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Students talking at a table

Parents give to Cornell in gratitude for students’ experiences

By Krisy Gashler
periodiCALS, Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2016

Gift giving to a university is generally a rite performed by alumni. But the families of Adrian Wong ’19 and Brooke Banks ’18 are so pleased with the educations their children are receiving at Cornell, they have given financial gifts to the university, even before their students graduate.

Wong is a sophomore studying food science, and Banks is a junior studying communication

Marita and Jackson Wong, Adrian’s parents, said that gift giving is a family tradition. 

“My son has gained immensely from Cornell, and seeing him grow into a responsible, talented young man makes me very confident in Cornell’s contribution to enhancing the future of the students studying there,” Marita Wong said. “Giving a gift is a small way for us to say thank you and to show our support in return for the work that you do.”

Maria Banks, Brooke’s mother, said she and her husband Rusty have been working with their children since they were small to instill principles of hard work, education and gratitude. 

“Rusty and I had to work to pay for college. Our children are fortunate in that they can enjoy the full college experience, and it is important to us that our kids are mindful of how lucky they are and the importance of giving back,” Maria said. “It is our hope that we can bridge the gap for someone else, if the difference between going to Cornell and going somewhere else is an economic factor. It’s simply about making a difference with a small act.”

Adrian and Brooke are already following their parents’ examples in providing service to the university and their communities. This summer, Adrian worked as an ambassador for the South African Consulate of his native Hong Kong. Brooke is a member of Cornell Tradition and the CALS Academic Integrity Hearing Board. 

The Wongs run several family businesses, including a bakery and confectionary brand, Lugard. The Bankses own a real estate development company on the east end of Long Island.