The path to success for recent University of Oregon graduate Caitlyn Wong took her off the pitch and into the world of pediatric cancer research.
Caitlyn Wong spent five years on the women’s soccer team for Oregon, but the first of four knee surgeries occurred on National Signing Day while she was still in high school.
“I would give anything to just be healthy and be on the field again,” she said.
Wong spent the majority of her time in Eugene on the training table instead of the playing field, tallying just one goal in her college soccer career.
“I had to struggle with that a lot. Figuring how to accept my situation. It definitely wasn't how I imagined. I figured I would be preparing for the draft over the last few months and be playing in the pro leagues,” Wong said.
Instead of professional soccer, she turned her attention toward biochemistry after graduating with a 4.0 grade point average.
“It sounds cheesy but I wanted to just do something good for others. Help society in some way,” Wong said.
Wong’s new goal is to assist the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for childhood cancer research and awareness.
The foundation came to her attention from assistant coach Tom Serratore, who raised thousands of dollars during his time in college.
Wong worked to match that, putting together a team of 18 fellow students and athletes for “Baldfest,” an event that ended up raising $37,000.
“No one really knew what St. Baldrick’s was, and that was our goal, to change it,” she said.
Wong is now looking at medical school and wants to become a physician-scientists to work with patients and do research on the side.
She currently volunteers with Northwest Surgical Specialists at Riverbend Hospital in Springfield and plans to continue with Baldfest in Eugene for years to come.
“It definitely changed by life going to the University of Oregon and going through what I went through and being part of the soccer team, so I am incredibly grateful for that and have to pay it forward somehow,” Wong said.
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