TransfORming Our Globe – Krystal Chong ’02

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Krystal Chong ’02, who has used her own experiences to propel her into success as a mental wellness entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Read how she risked everything in search of her calling and found it in New York City.

Krystal calls her time at Ridley “priceless,” and says that her Ridley education was the best gift her parents ever gave her. From 2000–2002, Krystal embraced all that Ridley had to offer; filling her days with swim practice, competing on the tennis courts, volunteering with Alzheimer’s patients and learning valuable skills that would accompany her on her career path. Like many Ridleians before her, one of the most important lessons Krystal learned while at Ridley was time management. “[Ridley] really taught me the value of maximizing a day and it made me realize how much you can accomplish if you manage your time well and push yourself,” shared Krystal. Above all of these timeless life lessons, Krystal is thankful to the faculty of Ridley for instilling in her a love of learning.

 “The teachers at Ridley were just so spectacular, I had never experienced anything like that until and since then. They single handedly taught me to enjoy learning, and that I was actually good at it, as long as I put the effort into it. They made me enjoy the process of becoming better and better and seeing myself progress as a result of what I put in, gave me the confidence that there was no limit for myself but myself.” – Krystal Chong ’02

After graduating Ridley, Krystal studied Psychology and Business at McGill University in Montreal, before returning to Jamaica. She strongly believed that in order to be happy in life, she needed to love her career and have a meaningful connection to the work she was doing. She decided to become a part of the family business and work alongside her loved ones. She spent many years working for Honey Bun Ltd. – the fastest growing wholesale bakery in Jamaica – eventually working her way up to the Chief Marketing Officer position. Krystal recalls, “one of my proudest contributions to date is to have played an integral part in building the company’s brand and taking the company public.” However, after eight years with the company, she felt a deep desire to find her true purpose in life. The realization that she needed to move in a different direction, but didn’t know what direction that was, intensified her pre-existing struggles with anxiety and depression. Desperate for a change yet tasked with a difficult decision to take a risk or stay within her comfort zone, Krystal found herself at a pivotal moment.

“In the end there was one thing I knew for sure. I could live with trying and failing, but I could not live with never knowing what could have been.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal resigned from her position at Honey Bun Ltd. and made the leap in moving to New York City on a journey to discover what her life’s purpose was and what would truly make her happy. Luckily for Krystal, this story has a happy ending. The lessons she learned on that journey helped Krystal conquer her anxiety and depression, leading her to a moment of clarity. Krystal is now an author, speaker and entrepreneur, dedicated to helping others live a flourishing life.

Krystal wrote the highly-acclaimed book, “What The Hell Am I Supposed To Do With My Life?! – A fun and friendly guide to finding your magic, your purpose and yo’ self”. This book sets out to help others discover meaning and connection in their lives, regardless of what hurdles may stand in their way.

“To hear from readers all over the world with wonderful stories about how the book is changing their lives, to hear about them becoming empowered to overcome their challenges and live the lives they want for themselves, to hear that for the first time in a long time they feel ‘hope’ and that has moved them to change, has been my ABSOLUTE GREATEST joy in life.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal’s profession is her passion, so she is constantly working towards her next big goals and continuing to better herself. With another book on the horizon and a new company, Anxiety Schmanxiety, which provides a comprehensive, organic, and enjoyable approach to conquering anxiety and improving mental wellness, Krystal is truly thriving.

As someone whose job is to instill confidence in those around her and motivate individuals to chase their dreams, Krystal shares some words of wisdom with Ridleians who are on their own journey to self-discovery:

“You are on a wonderful, wonderful journey and sometimes that journey may not feel so wonderful, but that’s the universe speaking to you. Try to understand what it’s telling you and learn and grow from any adversity. Always remember, you have the power, at all times, to determine how your life will end up. Move away from the things that bring your down and towards the things that make you light up, the things that feel right deep down inside. You have a divine compass within you which is the most powerful thing you possess. Learn to listen to that compass and let it guide you, and you’ll find everything you seek, and so much more.

And I’ll leave with this: close your eyes and imagine the best possible version of yourself. That is who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe that.” – Krystal Chong ’02


 TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to kory_lippert@ridleycollege.com.

 

The Gift That Keeps on Giving – The Robert J. Malyk Scholarship for Biology

There’s something about Ridley – the experience, the traditions, the culture and the people. Each leaves its mark on you in a significant way and enriches your very being. Once you become a part of the Ridley experience, it’s hard not to take on a sense of responsibility for opening possibilities and opportunities for future generations of Ridleians.

For retired faculty member Robert (Bob) Malyk, it was not only Ridley’s commitment to service that inspired him to take positive action, but his bond with his students as well. Affectionately called “BioBob” by his students, Bob created a supportive learning environment in which students could flourish. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bob and his students embarked on a journey in cutting-edge biology, which involved work in molecular genetics, DNA extractions and sequencing genomes as a part of the worldwide Human Genome project with at the University of Washington in Seattle. The students’ essential role and interest in these scientific initiatives was the spark that motivated Bob to further steer his students towards biomedical research.

In 2001, Bob endowed The Robert J. Malyk Scholarship for Biology to celebrate the highest academic standing in Ridley’s AP Biology course (now International Baccalaureate and Ontario Secondary School Diploma) and who would be continuing their post-secondary studies in Biology and Life Sciences. The first presentation of this scholarship took place at the 2004 Prize Day ceremony, naming Mary Rose Bufalino ’04 as the inaugural recipient. Three years after establishing the award, Bob received the Prime Minister’s Award and the Ontario Genomic Award, which he combined with his own financial contributions to sustain the endowment.

Since the scholarship’s inception, Bob has made it his personal mission to maintain contact with each recipient and to share their success stories.

Dr. Christy Walker ’07 felt that her shift into the sciences, which eventually led to her career as a Veterinarian, was partly due to the confidence gained from her experience with Bob as a teacher and winning this scholarship. She reflected fondly on her AP Biology class and Bob’s positive influence, saying, “he has an ability to inspire students to set goals above and beyond what they thought possible, to work hard to achieve them and somehow make the process fun at the same time; he continued to do that even after I left the walls of Ridley.”

Each year, Bob, who retired in 2011, reaches out to each past scholarship recipient to look into where their academics have taken them. With a genuine interest in maintaining connection with past students, Bob is committed to staying in touch through Facebook or email. “It is important for past recipients to recognize that I am genuinely interested in their academic and professional stories,” says Bob. “It is also critical for the current recipient to see who has gone before them and what achievements have been made.”

Similar to Christy, for Michael Szpejda ’08, it all began in the classroom. As a past recipient of the scholarship, Michael, who is finishing his third year of medical school at St. Georges University in Grenada, felt that having the scholarship as a motivator helped set students up for success. Bob created an air of friendly competition that kept pushing students throughout the year, keeping them focused on the long-term objectives.

Dr. Michael Dorrington, who won the award in 2006, reflects fondly on the scholarship, coveting it above other awards won because it represented a field he loved learning about, while giving him the confidence to pursue sciences. After receiving his doctorate in Medical Science (Infection and Immunity), Michael is now completing his research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) just outside of Washington, D.C. Even with his busy schedule, Michael enjoys maintaining his Ridley connection and shares, “personally, I love reading about all of the other awardees and the amazing variety in how we’ve grown since winning the prize.”

Bob believes scholarships and bursaries are an integral component at Ridley because they “provide validation of the recipient’s academic prowess and strength of character”. With the Robert J. Malyk Scholarship for Biology setting the bar high for science students at Ridley, a legacy has been created.

Bob’s story is just one of the many inspirational examples of how endowment can positively impact the trajectory of students’ lives. To learn more about ways you can make an impact, click here.

Read more about the scholarship’s influence on recent graduate, Ben Johnson ’17.