PELLA — Determination and hard work has carried Central College women’s soccer senior Katie Wang (Brooklyn Park, Minn., Park Center HS) to a stellar academic and athletic career as she prepares for a future in the medical field.
A biochemistry and Spanish double major with a 4.0 GPA, the academic accolades have piled up for Wang since arriving at Central. A two-time member of the American Rivers Conference all-academic team, Wang has also been a two-time nominee for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards Program.
Most recently, she received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, a highly competitive award for students entering careers in STEM research.
“Sometimes I feel like people look at grades or final papers or whatever it is and they think ‘Oh, she was able to whip that out in no time,’” Wang said. “They only see a finished product, they don’t see all the work that went into it. I’ve given up doing things I want to do in order to do the work that needed to be done.”
Wang counts teammate Gabi Toulon (senior, Normal, Ill., West HS) and former teammates Sophia Sanchez and Tayte Barense among the most impactful influences of her time at Central.
“My roommates specifically have taken the time to care and understand,” Wang said. “We’ve all done a good job understanding everyone’s different backgrounds and the places we come from. I think understanding those baseline things allows you to be more successful in relationships moving forward.”
Born to a white mother and a Chinese-American father, Wang was raised by her mom and a white step-father from a young age. Hailing from the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, Wang attended Park Center High School.
“It’s one of the most diverse high schools in Minnesota,” Wang said. “Looking back, I valued that experience a lot because I was exposed to a lot of different cultures and ideas.”
The biracial experience has brought difficult encounters for Wang.
“I remember bringing our family’s Christmas cards to elementary school and the teachers would hang them on the doors,” she said. “Kids would look at ours and say ‘Oh, you’re adopted’ or ‘You don’t look like your family.’ It was difficult to process because that is my mom and that is my dad, but people didn’t necessarily see that.”
Wang, who also has a pair of white half-siblings, has no connection with her birth father.
“I know I’m Chinese and that’s what I look like, but I don’t really know much about the culture,” she said. “I feel like I know what I know is what most people have learned on television or movies, which can be dramatized. I think when being able to identify with the culture, it really does matter like how you’re raised and who is there to show you those different pieces.
“I wouldn’t even consider myself all that much different. I mean, I maybe look different but I want to be treated like everyone else.”
On the field, Wang has played 43 games as a midfielder/forward for the Dutch, scoring twice in American Rivers Conference games last year. The Dutch are 30-21-6 (.579) since her arrival, including a second-place league finish in 2017.
“I’ve had a good experience with soccer,” Wang said. “I’m very academically focused but I do need an outlet and I liked the idea of getting to play soccer because it gives you something else to focus on and to think about.”
After graduation in May, Wang is on track for medical school.
“I’m currently applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs, so I would spend seven or eight years getting both degrees,” she said. “Right now, I’m leaning towards a Ph.D. in genetics with a specialty in pediatric surgery.
“I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in seventh or eighth grade. I’ve loved my time at Central but I’m excited to start the next chapter, too.”