December 05, 2016

Celebration of Unexpected Champions: A Scholar’s journey to Georgetown University

Earl Woods Scholar alum Darryl Robinson’s candid and moving speech at the Tiger Woods Foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration in New York City this past October had the room swelling with emotion. A true personification of dogged determination, Robinson never abandoned his dream of receiving a college education and a better life, even when obstacles seemed insurmountable at times. In today’s post, you’ll hear in Robinson’s own words exactly why we believe he is a true champion of the unexpected.

You don’t belong here. This was the nagging, demoralizing thought that followed me throughout my first two years at Georgetown University. And I easily convinced myself that I did not belong.

My name is Darryl Robinson, and I am a native Washingtonian. I was raised by my grandmother who always pushed me to excel in school. Our modest background taught me the importance of humility and hard work, and during my first week of entering grade school, I knew that I would be the first person in my family to go to college. And with the guidance of teachers, mentors and the staff at the Tiger Woods Learning Lab, I not only beaome the first person in my family to go to college, but I was the first person from my neighborhood to go to college within two generations.

I was proud to go to Georgetown. But when I got there, I honestly felt like I didn’t belong on campus. I started believing that the shine I possessed was dim compared to others. And I was riddled with guilt that I was given the opportunity to study at one of the best schools in the nation. At the same time, I no longer felt like I belonged in the neighborhood I grew up in. I truly felt like I didn’t belong anywhere.

It took two years of my pushing through my self-doubt and guilt before I realized that I deserved everything that I had worked so hard for. Within those years there were hardships, but more importantly there were successes. I successfully learned how to overcome failure, and I learned the power of mentorship by being a mentee and a mentor. But most importantly, I took time during those years to learn the importance of community investment.

A constant theme in my personal story is how others, like the Tiger Woods Foundation, took the time to invest in me even when I doubted myself. Their selfless actions motivated me to prioritize giving back to my community. Getting over the hump of feeling unprepared and dealing with the challenges of being a first-generation, low-income student left me with an urge to see others like me succeed.

An important sentence can be found on the Foundation’s website. It is not, “You don’t belong here.” Instead it reads, “We don’t allow our students to exist with the labels or restrictions or stigmas that have been placed upon them. We empower them to exceed any and all expectations.”

I believe that this statement stands true for me and the other past, present and future Scholars of the Foundation.

For me and countless other kids, the Tiger Woods Foundation has been life-changing. And I know this is just the start of all they plan to accomplish.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.