Students, employees and parents attending Branksome Hall’s 94th Senior and Middle School Installation ceremony on September 22, 2022 will be thinking about Bernise WONG’13’s keynote speech for a long time to come.
Exemplifying 21st-century leadership and the transformative power each of us possesses, Wong is currently Creative Director and Head of Brand at Saysh. This Black-owned, female-owned company based in New York was founded by Allyson Felix, the world’s most decorated track and field female Olympian. After Felix made the decision to become a mother, corporate partner Nike asked her for a 70 percent pay cut. Deciding to speak out for herself, and for all women, she wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, and started Saysh with the mission of undermining inequality.
When told this story by Felix two years ago, Wong immediately said yes to joining the Saysh team. The values of fearlessness, inclusion and resilience have always been important to her, and were reinforced during her time as a Boarding student from Hong Kong at Branksome Hall. Wong recalled how much it continues to mean to her that school leader Karrie Weinstock believed in her and encouraged her to find her path. Far away from home, homesick, and with self-proclaimed “terrible” grades, Wong was supported at Branksome in her passion for art and design, bringing inclusivity into her work even at a young age.
Today, she hopes her Installation speech inspires Branksome’s current students to find their passion, stick to it, and turn it into a powerful voice to speak up for themselves and for others.
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.