Feb. 3, 2010
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
If she were so inclined, Angela Wo could delve deep into the depths of her subconscious and unlock the key to her benevolence, but at this point in her life she seems content to freely give her time to others.
That Wo has accomplished so much in her four years at Rice is a testament to her determination to make the best of an unexpected circumstance. She didn't seriously consider developing her discipline in the backstroke and butterfly at Rice while at Hightower High, but the stars aligned and Wo set on a path to enlightenment and enrichment.
"It's been difficult. It's hard to step up to the position of a leader," Wo said of her role as co-president of the Rice Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. "I've learned a lot. I realize that you can't be a great leader without the people behind you. SAAC, with 30-something people helping you behind your back supporting you, that's what makes it possible to be a great leader.
"I don't think I've always had this (ability to lead). Last semester I struggled stepping up to the plate. I learned a lot ... from experiences what I need to do to be proactive and getting things done."
Wo initially balked at the assertiveness required for the position of president. Her first three years at Rice were spent excelling in the classroom (Wo has earned multiple Conference USA Commissioner Academic Honor Roll nods), in the pool (in multiple disciplines and on relays), and as a peer academic advisor. Her devout willingness to aid others in their academic pursuits played a part in her desire to extend her talents to SAAC despite the many commitments already in place.
The challenge to connect student-athletes from multiple sports for the purpose of serving the community and university was too tempting to bypass. The expansion of her horizons was a welcomed byproduct.
"It's not really anything extra to me," Wo said. "It was an opportunity given to me to be a leader for my team and all athletes in general.
"I guess I never wanted to be just a swimmer or a student. I wanted to be more than that. I'm here for four years and I wanted to leave an impact, whether it's in the community or in school or with swimming. This is just a chance to be able to do that, to help lead a group of people in a collective effort."
While Wo relishes in her accomplishments with SAAC and academically - she stands poised to make a decision on where she will enroll for physical therapy school following graduation - she described the upcoming end of her competitive swimming career as bittersweet.
It was clear from the start that swimming would not define Wo, and the lessons learned via athletics proved applicable as she managed varying endeavors. Her multitasking was beneficial in more ways than imagined.
"I think it was totally in the books all along," Wo said of her attending Rice. "I tried to go other places but I ended up right here. And I don't ever look back thinking I should have gone (elsewhere). You can't beat D-I athletics and a top-notch academic school."
With her commitment to helping others, Angela Wo is in training to become one of Tomorrow's Leaders.