Life After High School: Interview with Kwok Yang (Jack) Ng

Today’s interview with Kwok Yang (Jack) Ng is part of my ongoing blog-to-book project: Life After High School: Secrets To A Successful Life By Those Who Have Had Twenty Years To Think About It (or) What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. If you missed the last post, click here, otherwise, you can start at the beginning here.

Kwok Yang (Jack) Ng

Freeland, WA

My Life In High School

Kwok Yang Jack Ng AHS 1996

Who were you in High School and how did you feel about it?

Athlete, punk, hardworking and outgoing. Feel satisfied and happy.

What did you think your life would become when you graduated?

Didn’t graduate HS, so being an immigrant from China, all I knew was that I needed to work hard and make a living without an education.

My Life After High School

Jack Yang Ng and Angela

What happened in your life to you, for you, and by you in the last twenty years (how have you used your time and who have you become)?

After HS, I started off fishing in Alaska; the Bering Sea for two years. During my time off, I worked in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant with my brothers and sisters. Working in Alaska was extremely hard and dangerous, so I knew I needed to save money and to start my own business. I wanted a better life.

After two years, I had saved enough money. As my family was well experienced in the restaurant business, we partnered together to start our first China City in downtown Oak Harbor.

Over time the business grew, and we expanded into Langley before purchasing our own real estate and moving to our Freeland location. We also moved locations in Oak Harbor three times before finally purchasing our own building, the location where it remains today.

About two years ago, we were successful in opening a new China City off the island in the Mill Creek town center. While running China City, I also ventured into the import business but found that operating China City was my true calling.

I never thought I would become a politician, but I currently serve as Port Commissioner for the Port of South Whidbey Island. I am also on the board of the Economic Development Council of South Whidbey and founded the Rotary Wine Club.

During this time, I met my wife Angela in the little town of Langley, WA. We had a beautiful, smart, son Jacob who is now 12 years old. The little smart ass loves basketball and sports, currently playing for South Whidbey middle school where he attends. He also has a great sense of humor.

My Life Lessons

What were the major life lessons and wisdom that you gained during your journey over the last 20 years?

Do what you’re good at, and learn from your experiences to become better at what you do.

I’ve also learned to respect elders and others in general, to be generous and forgiving, to be a part of the community, and that you should never be afraid to ask for advice.

Never give up.

Letter To My High School Self

If you could write your 18-year-old self (or however old you were when you graduated) a letter, and send it back in time, what would you say? What lessons, wisdom, encouragement, or warnings would you give yourself?

I would tell my 18-year-old self to show more respect to my teachers and others. Don’t do some of the stupid teenage stuff; it’s not worth it.

…And party and chase girls more!!

In the next post, I will continue with more great interviews, like this one with Sarah Henry.

Are you from Generation X? I want to hear what you think! Please comment below and participate in the conversation about What They Didn’t Teach Us Gen Xers In High School. What do you wish someone told you when you were eighteen?

About the author

Featured in CNN Money Edition, Jesse Stoddard’s primary aim is to make his mark in the world by exploring new ideas, enhancing collaboration and cooperation with teams, and working in his unique ability, which is transferring infectious enthusiasm, taking action, and loving people in order to gather and connect with others to pursue a bigger, brighter future.

Jesse’s mission is to make good bolder with his writing and art, to serve God, and in such a way that he illuminates truth, shines a humorous light on our human imperfections, and reminds us all to be humble while pointing us to what’s right.