Angie Hong has always known that her passion lay in helping others around the world.
So it came as no surprise to family and friends when the 23-year-old Baltimore native went to Uganda after college and helped reunite children in an orphanage there with their biological parents and relatives.
“I’ve always had an interest in living in a community in the developing world and serving alongside them,” Hong said. “We ran the first successful transition for children from orphanages to families in Uganda.”
Hong was able to help find the families through the children, who explained where they came from and where their biological families were, and the help of local people.
“It is important to take notes and listen to every little detail and thing that was being said by the Ugandans I was working with at the time,” said Hong, who graduated from Towson with a degree in philosophy. “I want to be clear that no decision was made on my own. We listened first.”
While the work was strenuous, Hong said it was all worth it.
“The most rewarding part of this was being able to reunite the children with their families,” Hong said.
She said Uganda has taken progressive steps in closing orphanages that are illegally run, an issue that is evident in many developing countries.
In addition to her work locating the families of the children, Hong discovered that one of the employees of the orphanage was abusing the kids there.
With the help of police detectives, the ministry of gender and social labor, and other non-governmental organizations, Hong and the non-profit she worked for assisted in bringing the man to justice and convicting him for his felonies.
It was not the first time that Hong had worked at the children’s home. She had visited the facility several years earlier as a 17-year-old Loch Raven High School student.
She had traveled to the northern region of Uganda at that time to help end the use of child soldiers in the country, and ultimately the world.
“I was largely driven by my heart and desire to fight injustice and to create a space for everyone to be provided with their basic human needs and rights,” Hong said.
Hong said her time at Towson was instrumental to the work she has done overseas.
“Towson absolutely developed my skills personally and professionally,” Hong said. “I was able to go to the LeaderShape Institute to refine my vision for the world and my leadership skills.”
Hong held many leadership positions while attending Towson and considers Deb Moriarty, the vice president of Student Affairs, and former Towson President Maravene Loeschke strong women who empowered and inspired her throughout her college career.
“I made friendships that kept me motivated and grounded [throughout college],” Hong said.
After college, she enrolled in the Peace Corps, but realized it was not meant for her.
“I wanted to join the Peace Corps since I was 16 years old,” Hong said. “I left because my goal at 16 wasn’t the same as my goal at 23 years old.”
Today, Hong continues to work as the assistant director to Better Understanding of Life in Africa, Inc., as well as a non-profit organization in Washington that helps families with their philanthropic work.
Hong also continues to inspire students at Towson, working as a facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute.
“Angie is an incredible person with one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard,” said Sydney Engelhart, who attended LeaderShape this past winter and had Hong as a mentor. “Everything she has done inspires me to do better every day.”
Hong hopes in the future to see more people act through compassion.
“It is OK to be proud of the work you are doing, but remember why you are doing this work,” Hong said. “Stay humble, and listen…very closely. You should listen to the communities you are hoping to serve.”