May 19, 2014

‘I was shocked to have a father figure in my life’

James Green, Earl Woods scholar, Quantico, spoke at the Quicken Loans National Media Day on May 19 at Congressional Country Club for more than 150 members of the media.

Good afternoon, everyone. My name is James Green, and I’m an Earl Woods scholar. I’ve just completed my first year of college at George Mason University, where I’m pursuing a bachelor of science in criminology, concentrating in homeland security, and minoring in intelligence analysis. 

Growing up, my biological father became a frequent abuser of drugs and alcohol. My mother knew that the environment he had created was not conducive to raising me or my sisters, so she courageously filed for divorce and took us to live with my grandmother. My mom remarried about a year later to her best friend from high school, who had just become a United States Marine. Anyone can be a father, but it takes true devotion and love to carry the title of dad. 

Around the age of four, I was shocked to have a father figure come into my life who showed he actually cared about me. My stepdad did everything he could to make me feel important, and because of that, I became magnetized to him. I followed him everywhere. I asked him questions about everything, and looking back on it now, I was a real pain sometimes. His positive actions and the way he virtuously carried himself made him my hero. 

There have been some rough patches though. My dad deployed several times after the War on Terror began, and he missed some of my life’s major milestones. There were many holidays and birthdays without my dad’s company, and that was tough on our family. All we could do was pray that he returned home safely from each of his deployments. I went to my sporting events many times, and I watched other kids with their dads being taught good batting technique or the proper way to dribble a soccer ball. It was pretty depressing to think about, as I didn’t have any hero to confide in at the time, but I never felt resentment toward my dad because I knew his purpose was important. 

My goal was to follow in my dad’s footsteps and enlist in the U.S. Marines. That didn’t happen. He sat me down, and we spoke about a career as an officer in the military. We created a plan to pay for college through earning an ROTC scholarship, and that became my new goal. I ended up graduating as an ARGC Scholarship awardee from Quantico Middle High School. I also earned the Earl Woods Scholarship, and initially I didn’t realize the scholarship would have such a huge impact in my life. 

As an Earl Woods scholar, I feel as if I have a second family, a family that looks out for the interests of their scholars and consistently provides support for our dreams and for our aspirations. It has relieved a large portion of my college expenses and the stresses that accompany those debts which has been an immensely beneficial blessing to my family and me.

I’ve also learned a great deal of information about what to expect through my college tenure, seeking internships, job interviews, networking and other career oriented material as a result of the benefits offered by the program. I’ve had the opportunity to befriend greatly motivated fellow scholars attending schools all around our country, and we’ve remained connected as the years progressed. All of this has become more than a scholarship to me.

The Tiger Woods Foundation has benefited me this year on many occasions. For example, during our pre-college retreat last summer, I had the opportunity to attend a résumé-building workshop and have already been able to reap the benefits from that this year. I created a résumé for an internship on campus, and I ended up getting the position, along with compliments on my résumé. I was excited and thankful to have learned what I did from the résumé workshop, as it paid off. 

The foundation has also matched me with a mentor, Gregg Van Orden, who is here today. He is helping build my network in the intelligence community. Mr. Van Orden has taken the time to establish meeting dates with members of the Secret Service, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. State Department and U.S. Army Intelligence. I am honored to have all of these connections and the wealth of knowledge I’m sure they will bring. 

I cannot thank the Tiger Woods Foundation enough for the support they have given me and the support I know I’ll receive in the future. 

I cannot say for certain where I would be if it weren’t for the scholarship, but I do know it would be difficult to picture myself as successful as I’ve been thus far in my first year of college. 

Thank you.