College life has had its interesting twists in my life. If I allow myself to be a part of the community, culture and opportunities which are offered, life is guaranteed to open new perspectives for me, such as faith in my fellow man, willpower, time management, striving to do my best, responsibility and sacrifice. What I experience now on my own and the decisions I make will ultimately dictate the path which I will follow.
Although many programs and many experiences in my childhood and teenage years have aided and influenced me in my path to college, the EWS Program did something that no other scholarship program of any sort managed to do for me: it gave me a second family. It was through this family that I learned how to act amongst those whom I haven't fully met yet and how to treat an opportunity with the value it deserves. As cliché as it sounds, I learned how to appreciate things in my life at least a little bit more. Opportunities, experiences and people were suddenly crucial to my personal growth. I found myself opening up my life to people whom I've barely known for a couple months and yet are still a huge part of my life despite the fact we will only see each other a few times each year because of the different roads we each have embarked upon.
My road is not as colorful or studded with stories as others considering I have barely started my undergraduate education. However, what I have learned so far on my own has definitely shaped and affected me in the sense of having more faith in the people around me. I was badly injured due to an accident where my shins suffered serious lacerations, actually exposing the bone except for a thin layer of fatty tissue. Only people whom I didn't know personally were around me and what happened to me afterward was a complete shock. These people that didn't know me either actually stopped everything they were doing to aid me and also called in somebody that did not know I existed until that day, but owned a car. These people rushed me to the nearest hospital and some even stayed with me throughout the whole time I was in the hospital to make sure I was fine and went as far as to make sure I got to my dorm room fine. Their disregard for their own plans in order to help me was inspiring. In my mind, things like this didn't happen. I was expecting an ambulance or security to take me, but no. These people actually took it upon themselves as their responsibility without second-thinking their decisions. They lost a night right before major tests, but they were selfless. I experienced first-hand the extent of human compassion. Good people do actually exist in this world.
Besides reigniting my faith in humanity, I also experienced the true meaning of willpower: sleeping at 2:00 in the morning, then getting back up two hours later after a quick power nap to continue studying for a midterm. This just might be the ultimate test of willpower for a college student. It isn't necessarily that I am unconfident in my knowledge of the subject I'm being tested upon, but it is even more than just willpower that is tested in these types of situations. I am tested in responsibility, proper time management and commitment to being the best I can possibly be as well. In all honesty, I've had to struggle with two classes in my entire time in high school, at most. Here, I find myself already struggling to get everything in line, making sure I do everything I set out to do, making sure I do work I am proud of and applying my mind to approaches which are foreign to me. For example, taking up German might possibly be one of the most difficult subjects I've pursued. I am forced to think in a different way when it comes to German. Words are placed in different places than in English, and I've never been exposed to German either until this semester! Over half of the students in my introductory course have had at least three years of German in high school, and I'm expected to compete at the same level. That's where willpower and time management come in again: willing to face the challenge knowing it's a tough road and that I'm behind in comparison and figuring out how to plan my schedule to make learning the language as efficient as possible.
The most important thing I have learned so far, and my most humbling, is that I can't do everything. "I'm no Superman," says the Lazlo Bane song. Therefore, sacrifices must be made. I want to go study abroad in Germany, but if I do, I will be behind an entire year in my chemistry courses, because certain courses I have to take are only offered at the same time as the German study abroad program. I can take summer school courses for those classes as well, but that means I can't attend a Research Undergraduate Experience in Microbiology at Virginia Tech because that requires too much time. Also, summer school means less potential to earn more income. I'd be losing money and time to pay for summer school. Also, personal fun and adventure will have to be sacrificed to make it all work.
All in all, I am taking my first real steps into the adult world. In my opinion, faith in my fellow man, willpower, time management, perseverance to keep doing my best, responsibility and sacrifice are very real skills necessary for survival. I realize I have much more to learn, but, as I've said, as I take my first steps into the real world, I've already figured out some ways to be successful.
Watch: Susana Lagarde discusses what attending college means to her and how it will help her become the person she wants to be.
As a high school freshman, college became a very crucial subject to consider. As students, we are pressured to maintain excellent grades, participate in sports and other extracurricular activities and think about our future careers. However, my current status in school was average. But, with the help of the Tiger Woods Learning Center, I have better grades, improved focus and concentration skills and am on my way to becoming a stellar student.
In 2006, Tiger Woods opened the TWLC in Anaheim, Calif., to give back to a community filled with students who are desperate to learn. Its vision is to prepare junior high and high school students for college and their future careers. All of the classes at the TWLC are free, so whether you have money or not, you have the same opportunity to have a successful life. After coming to the TWLC, I decided that I want to major in the business field, graduate from college with an MBA and run a successful business. Aside from that, I want to give back to the TWLC and essentially pay it forward. I want to use the TWLC as a model and contribute to my community and help other underprivileged students who deserve a chance to have a great education.
Attending college will provide me with opportunities. It will help me be an independent and resourceful person. With the assistance of the Tiger Woods Learning Center, I can accomplish my lifelong goals by making my college dreams a reality. They have helped me with my college applications, explore various career choices and provide me with guidance and advice. The TWLC helps me have better grades, learn to play golf and make new friends. But most of all, I learn about college and finding a career that I can succeed in.
Throughout my life, I've been unsure about the choices and decisions I've made, but there's one decision I know is for certain and that is to attend a four-year university. My parents did not have the opportunity to go to college, but it is their dream and my dream to attend college. My family has always helped me and motivated me throughout my school years to stay focused on my future plans. They are very involved with my education. Education and success are my top priorities for my life.
The Tiger Woods Learning Center has helped me to explore different career options available to me with the various resources provided to the students. The Learning Center has opened my mind to possible careers. I attended the Learning Center for the first time as a fifth-grader -- I took a forensic science class. I had a lot of fun in the class, and it helped me to realize that one day I could have a career that I would enjoy doing. I'm currently taking the Nutrition and Fitness: Fit for Life class, which has helped me learn important information about my health and fitness.
I have thought of some possible career options for myself, including: journalism, communications, education and government. These are just some fields I am interested in pursuing careers in, but I would also like to learn more about other career options. Therefore, I plan to continue taking classes at the Tiger Woods Learning Center. I hope that by my senior year, I would have a better view of my future career. I would also like to give back to the community with my career choice, because a lot of resources have been available for me, and I want to make sure that the future generations get the same opportunities as me.
I know that I must be prepared for college. I'm very appreciative of all the people that have helped me toward reaching my goal of attending college. I know that I will need a lot more help to get to college. I do not know my school of choice, but I know that the one I choose will be the one that will best prepare me for my future career. Getting to college and graduating from college will be an accomplishment for me. With the help of the Tiger Woods Learning Center, I know this can be achieved. The Learning Center has opened many new doors and opportunities for me.
Even though I'm a freshman in high school and college is several years away, I want to be as prepared as possible. There is a lot of planning and preparation that must be done before I enter college. As a returning member to the Learning Center, I came back because I knew this is where I can get pre-college exposure. I want to prepare myself for college the best I can. In the future, I will be entering college, and I want to know that I did everything possible to be ready.
Coming from a family with only a few college graduates, it makes it harder for me to overcome all the barriers I have to defeat to be able to reach all the dreams I desire. It is not about how much money I will make when I have a stable job in the career I wish to pursue, but about how many people I will be able to help with that professional degree. During my freshman year, I would often picture the future I wanted for myself, but as I started maturing, I realized that all those dreams seem impossible to achieve. I am not a super-talented girl when it comes to educational stuff, but I am responsible and always try my hardest. I did not have an experienced guidance counselor to tell me what programs or clubs will actually have helped me build a bridge straight to those prestigious colleges. Yes, I had counselors, but they would tell me only the basics and not what other programs I could take advantage of.
I had always walked in front of the Tiger Woods Learning Center, but I always thought you had to be chosen personally because of your outstanding grades. Until this year. My sister was invited to check out the Center and if it weren't for her, I would not have become a member at all. Once I started taking the classes and I saw how many children since junior high take advantage of the amazing programs offered to all the students, I realized that they do not know how lucky they are. It would have been helpful if I had the chance to join since seventh grade.
In these moments, Tiger Woods Learning Center has helped me look into more scholarships that will eventually help me attend a good college that fits my desires and budget. On top of that, the teachers always give me such nice comments and advice that often makes me feel that I can do all I set my mind to. For me, going to college is not about just spending more than half of your day trying to learn new things and just pass tests, but it is about growing more as an individual. Having more knowledge does not only make you feel good about yourself, but it also makes you want to achieve more and be always on the top of your class. When we graduate -- whether it's from high school, college, or from a professional school -- you always get that feeling of joy and hope inside you. We have to help other children get to that point, because that is the only way this world can change into a better one.
I am incredibly thankful to Tiger Woods for having made this organization come true. Even though I did not take much advantage of it, I will encourage my siblings to do so. All those children that I have a class with remind me of myself, always trying to achieve something more than expected. I like taking challenges, and I have no doubt that college is going to be one of my greatest challenges so far. I am keeping a positive state of mind about the fact that I will succeed and excel in all my courses at college, something I did not get to really do during my high school years.
I have a lot of dreams and sometimes, I feel like all I wish for is unreachable. People try to put me down, and I sometimes think to myself, "maybe they are right," but God always brings me back up and gives me the hope that keeps me trying.
I want to be someone "big," as in that person that helps change the world and not just a normal human being. I am a passionate Guatemalan church girl with a love for school and fashion. I do not have much, but I always take advantage of the little I have. But one day when I have a great job -- thanks to the education I will receive at college -- I am going to be a good daughter and support my parents just like the way they support me. That is one of my dreams -- to get my parents a big house in a peaceful place in the mountains so they can enjoy the rest of their lives together. It will be a reward for all the work they have done and will keep doing for my siblings and me. I do not want to be like those people that after they get a job and are totally independent from their parents, they leave them in a nursing home and never call them back. I want to be a good person until the end because I am not here on Earth to follow what others do, but to be an example to others on how to be. Working for God is my passion, and I know my future will be bright. I am planning to study in the medical and theology fields to become a pediatrician and a missionary. That way, I can travel around the world helping, curing kids and preaching the truth about Jesus Christ to everyone, because the whole world is a great harvest, but the workers are few and I am willing to become one of those workers.
The few months I have left as a high school senior are going to be the best of all -- not only because I am finally going to graduate -- but because I will still keep attending sessions here at TWLC. I have really loved my experience here, and I am not willing to let go this opportunity to learn more just yet. This classes are worth taking, and I know for a fact that they will actually help me in the near future. So no matter how much time I have to put into it, I will still be part of this.
The first time I attended the Tiger Woods Learning Center was when I was in junior high school. I took a science class, where I learned about scientific discoveries and how to make scientific observations. I thought it was interesting what a scientist could discover. I'm now a junior at Anaheim High School, on my way to becoming a senior. I'm currently taking the Nutrition and Fitness class. As a junior in high school, going to college is right around the corner for me. It's one of my biggest goals in life, as for my career, I'm still trying to discover what I want to do in life and what my major will be.
Being a part of the Tiger Woods Learning Center has exposed me to other choices and opportunities that are helping me to expand my knowledge in other careers available to me, that if it wasn't for the learning center I would not know about, or have the opportunity to learn about. Being in the Nutrition and Fitness class has made me aware of how important it is to not only worry about my academics, but also worry about my health, which is important to be able to reach my goals. I need to be healthy to do my best in school. Before I attended this class, I was never worried about my health, this class has made me realize how important it is to have a healthy life style to accomplish all my goals in life. This class has given me awareness of how to eat healthier, make smarter choices for my body, and the importance of exercising. I need to balance out my time to be able to maintain a healthy life style, with all the studying and working so hard to get to college, my health is now also a part of my goal in life.
I will be the first in my family to go to college and pursue a career I have yet to discover. Being the older of two younger sisters has taught me, the role of a leader. They look up to me and I want to be a good example for them. My leadership skills have helped me to be part of an all girls club, G.O.L.D. (Guiding Our Ladies with Dignity), which helps girls to be strong, elegant individuals who are confident and intelligent and self-motivated ladies, which I'm a member of the cabinet. I'm currently taking two AP classes, which are giving me a taste of what college will be about. I'm doing all that I can to better myself to be successful in a four year university.
Going to college means preparing myself for my future. I need to be prepared for this part of my educational career and I will need help to make it happen. I want to take advantage of all the opportunities my family has worked so hard to give me. With the help of the Tiger Woods Learning Center this can help me get closer to reaching my goal. Going to college means finding my purpose in my life that I can be proud of and be able to share my success with my family.
Watch: Andrew Kim is grateful for the opportunity to have won a scholarship to attend the Concordia Village Language Camp.
As I am sitting here writing this essay at an artistic café in the Bohemian district of Barcelona, Spain, I am having some difficulty capturing my college experience up until this very day. So much has happened within such a short amount of time. I suppose there is no better way to begin than at the beginning.
My name is Vina Vo, and I come from a little place called Little Saigon in Garden Grove, Calif. Being the first person in my family born in United States and the first person in my family to go to college, I came from a small world filled with norms and familiarity. You can imagine my shock when I moved out of the home I grew up in and into a small dorm room on campus at USC.
Like many others, I had a rocky start adjusting, but as my favorite quote goes, "Kept in a small bowl, the goldfish will remain small. With more space, the fish can grow double, triple, or quadruple its size."
It did not take long until I started to swim around my new pond for more opportunities and new experiences. I joined the student government, business organizations and community-service organizations within my first year of college. I made great friends from all over the world and all different disciplines. From the classes I took, organizations I joined and people I met, I became more aware of what I wanted to do in life and what my personal legacy was going to be. With my business background and my passion for creating positive impacts for the community, I want to influence education from an administrative and organizational level. My activities from that year on reflected just that.
A life-changing event occurred the summer of my freshman year when I traveled to Taipei. It was the first time I left the U.S., and it was the first time experiencing an entirely different culture. Within the short week, I became friends with local Taiwanese college students who taught me to think about culture, diversity and a global world. It was the beginning of what now defines my life as a learner, a traveler and a world citizen. From then on, I became curious and passionate about learning other cultures' ideals, values, struggles and history. Each day is a new adventure with people to meet, knowledge to uncover and mysteries to reveal. Each day is an opportunity to discover the world.
My desire to understand others and their struggles combined with my passion to help others led me to start an organization called ACTIVE (Achieving Change Through Inspiring Values and Education). I started this organization to help empower others to empower themselves in achieving their success. Starting from an idea, our organization currently works with four schools, mentoring about 100 students to become leaders in their school, community and society. Although I create the lesson plans and teach the students, they educate me in ways I never expect. The beauty about the interaction with others is that there is always something new and interesting to learn if you are willing to be open and accepting.
I took this mentality with me when I interned last summer in Beijing. Working in a foreign country was an experience unlike any other. At my firm, I worked with both European and Chinese citizens and got to experience the clash of cultures in work practices and behaviors. In this environment, I learned more about openness, tolerance and embracing someone's culture even if it is radically different from my own.
Through my interactions in Beijing, I also realized the importance of being a citizen of the world. We often distinguish ourselves by the country we come from, but being in Beijing and sharing knowledge and thoughts with others made me realize how similar we all are. Though we come from different backgrounds, upbringings and experiences, there is a commonality that ties us all together, and that commonality is that we are all living in this world at the same time. This idea made me realize the importance of collaboration and cooperation in solving our social issues within our respective societies. Seeing my own personal growth and noticing the impact that it had on my ability to create change in my community compelled me to continue traveling and discovering.
I am currently studying in Barcelona at one of the most prominent business institutions in Europe. Though I am academically stimulated by the international education in business, I am more fascinated through my interactions with other exchange students from all over the world and the Catalan people. I am continuing to learn what it means and takes to become a world citizen and what being a world citizen could lead to. I find that as we start to build a better connection with one another and foster togetherness, we will eventually see each other as one race -- the human race.
Even though college has enriched me academically, my experiences in college have taught me above all what it means to be a friend, sister and citizen of our world. It has taught me that there is no limit to the amount of success I can achieve and the impact I can contribute. It has taught me what it means to strive for a united and peaceful world little by little in my own individual way.
Looking back at the girl I was three years ago, I probably would have never envisioned the young woman and activist I am today. All of this would not have been possible without the support that the Earl D. Woods Scholarship has given to me. Not only did the scholarship financially support me throughout my three years in college, it has provided me with support from individuals who never cease to inspire me. I owe my success and education to the Tiger Woods Foundation and hope that one day I will be able to impact lives the way the foundation has impacted mine.
About Vina: Vina Vo, a third-year Earl Woods Scholar, is currently a junior at USC majoring in business administration while also pursuing an accelerated master's degree in urban planning. She is the president and founder of the campus group Achieving Change Through Inspiring Values and Education (ACTIVE) and is a student government member at her university. Vina takes part in numerous business organizations on campus, and she also has a passion for community service. She strives to combine her knowledge in business and community to positively impact the world.
|Fatou: From Dreams to Reality
I was in high school, and the pressure of graduation and passing all my classes was getting at me when my advisor told me, "Fatou, I want you to apply for the Earl Woods Scholarship -- you need money for college, obviously." The first thought that came in my mind was "Yeah, right ... and you think I will get that competitive scholarship?" I talked to my mentors about the idea, and they encouraged me to apply. They wanted me to beat the odds. A couple of months later, I was considered an Earl Wood Scholar.
I got in the United States a couple of years ago with my sister from Togo (West Africa) to pursue a better education. Being an Earl Woods Scholar was the best thing that happened to me since I got here. It is true that I was awarded other academic scholarships when I was in high school, helping me to pay for college expenses, but I consider the Earl Woods Scholarship "the best." It does not just award me money to go to school, but the staff of the Foundation keeps in touch with me and makes sure I am doing well in school. As an Earl Woods Scholar, a lot of opportunities opened up for me. I had the chance to go to the TW Leaning Center in California-Anaheim the past two summers for workshops, meeting with the staff and other scholars.
As a scholar, my biggest accomplishment was to intern at the Environment Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., last summer. The Tiger Woods Foundation has blessed me with a chance to work with EPA staff members and understand what it feels like to work on projects. I worked on the mercury spills that occurred at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C. (2003) and Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Ariz. (2009). One of my goals before I graduate from college was to intern with an agency in the environment field. As a junior at the University of Idaho majoring in environmental science/engineering, I learned a lot from this internship. I felt like an actual EPA member during the six weeks that I worked there. While working on my project, I had the chance to interview others EPA staff members from different regions who were involved in the cleanups with a series of questions designed to understand what follow-up actions were done after the spill. I had the privilege to come up with a suggestion to the EPA concerning spills of the elemental mercury in schools. It was a big accomplishment for me. I received positive feedback on my dedication to work and also on the results of my project. It felt good to know that my efforts contributed in the office.
Every time I tell my dad and my sister how good the Tiger Wood Foundation has been to me, they share my happiness. On Oct. 5, I will have a chance to sit on a special assembly with Tiger Woods himself and speak with ninth graders of Cesar Chavez about the benefits of having a TWLC in D.C. As an Earl Woods Scholar, opportunities keep rising, and I consider every one of them as granted. I would have never thought of myself -- a young man coming from a small country of Togo and having such a different background -- sitting on panel with Tiger Woods one day. Being an Earl Woods Scholar helped me to achieve my dreams and only God knows the opportunities that this Foundation will present to me in the future.
Watch: Bianca discusses how a scholarship from the Tiger Woods Foundation had a profound impact on her life.
How would my life be different if I weren't an Earl Woods Scholar (EWS)? I guess that is the underlying question.
If this were any other scholarship, my life would probably have stayed the same. The only difference would be an extra $5,000 in my pocket -- nothing more, and nothing less. I'd take it. I'd spend it on books or classes, and that would be it. I wouldn't even be thinking about how much my life has changed.
However, my life did change. Unlike other scholarships, the Earl Woods Scholarship Program is not just a name or place, a mysterious agency that writes out checks to students it doesn't even know. Being an EWS has been so much more than that. It has been an incredible experience that I am fortunate to be a part of.
In the beginning, I didn't know what being an EWS meant. I remember filling out the scholarship application along with a million other applications and totally forgetting that I even applied. I worked like a machine my senior year, and the scholarship checks came in nicely.
Then a big package from the Tiger Woods Foundation arrived in the mail. It said that in order to receive the scholarship, I had to attend a weeklong summer orientation. Frankly -- and I know this sounds horrible -- I rolled my eyes and thought, "Great, another one of those boring, obvious orientations about being the best that I can be. Ppfftt! Kiddie stuff!" But I went anyway, and to my pleasant surprise, I was completely wrong.
That first summer was amazing. I got to volunteer at a zoo, help an elderly woman paint her mobile home, rub elbows with many professionals and community leaders and intern at the Tiger Woods Learning Center.
I hope to become a writer one day, and this past summer, I was presented with the opportunity to intern at the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, where I got to write press releases, highlight reports and even co-manage their booth at the Orange County Fair. We had more than 150 volunteers! Interning is sometimes intimidating but a phenomenal experience nonetheless.
I have learned to appreciate the value of things that seemed so trivial before -- things like what a difference a clean white shirt can make, returning someone's phone call or even putting in the extra effort to write a small thank-you note to a volunteer. I feel a lot more confident about taking on the professional world now than I did when I left high school.
However, out of this whole EWS experience, what I find the most endearing are all the great people I've met along the way. This is my third year being an EWS, and the program and the people who make it all happen never cease to amaze me. If I weren't an EWS, I would have never met my mentor, Paul Glowienke -- a financial adviser with Northwestern Mutual -- who has become more than a coach but also a great friend. There are too many other names to mention, but they know who they are. I can't even begin to thank them enough for all the support and encouragement I received over the past three years.
The folks at the Foundation and the Learning Center understand what we scholars are trying to do, and having them believe in us makes a whole world of difference. A little bit of confidence can go a long way, and this program has given me so much more. Thank you.