December 13, 2016

In memoriam of Marcus Edwards: Champion of the unexpected

The TGR Learning Lab — then known as the Tiger Woods Learning Center — expanded to Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. At our Capitol Hill site a multitude of events, including Tiger Woods’ speaking to the student body at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School’s Capitol Hill campus, preceded our formal opening, and we were anxious to start the year of after-school programming with courses in video production and communications. After months of planning, only one task remained: get students in the building! The very first student to turn in an application to become a member of the TGR Learning Lab was a bright-eyed 10th grader named Marcus Edwards.

Marcus showed up, application in hand, talking a mile a minute with a huge smile on his face, and made it clear he was passionate about film and television and could not wait to learn how to make his own videos. From that point forward, Marcus was a consistent and welcomed presence at the TGR Learning Lab; he was a member of the family, someone who embodied the passion, drive and kindness we all strive for in our daily lives.

Marcus graduated in 2013 and went off to college. On Sept. 19, 2016, while crossing a busy intersection just off campus, Marcus, in a random, senseless act of violence, was stabbed and killed.

In high school, and as a member of the TGR Learning Lab for three years, Marcus was known as the kid who got along with everyone. He was incredibly genuine and kind, and he was not afraid to express himself for fear of being judged. Marcus had two passions that were clear right off the bat: film and television, and becoming a police officer. In fact, for Halloween one year Marcus came to school dressed as the character Horatio Caine from “CSI: Miami.” Marcus was serious about becoming a detective and giving back to his community. He joined the Metropolitan Police Department Junior Police Academy and even dressed up as McGruff the Crime Dog for events.

Because of his dedication and commitment to the TGR Learning Lab, Marcus was a regular volunteer and spokesperson at various events, from helping to run exhibit tables at local conferences, to representing the Tiger Woods Foundation at golf tournaments. He was there at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in 2012, helping younger students identify fingerprint patterns and analyze hair samples — all in an effort to get them excited about forensic science. He was there at the Quicken Loans National golf tournament in 2013 — then called the AT&T National — speaking to people about the Tiger Woods Foundation and its programs in D.C. And he was there at the TGR Learning Lab, oftentimes well past dark, usually the last student to leave as he and I would walk to the metro together.

After high school, Marcus enrolled at Kentucky State University. However, after a serious case of culture shock and a desire to be closer to his family, he transferred to Morgan State University in Baltimore, where he studied social work to help him handle the difficult situations he would encounter as a police officer. Marcus was one of those rare students who knew exactly what he wanted and was determined to do it. Take the right amount of grit, perseverance and old-fashioned hard work, add positive adult mentors, engaging extracurricular activities and a supportive family, and you get Marcus Edwards, who was on the path to becoming a detective and a role model for future generations of students born in his hometown of D.C.  

As a testament to his character, the D.C. police chief named Sept. 27, 2016 as Marcus Edwards Day in the city. He was also posthumously named an honorary officer of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

We were fortunate, as staff at the Tiger Woods Foundation, to have known Marcus Edwards for over five years. He was a caring person with an infectious smile and genuine personality. He chased his dreams with aplomb. Marcus, the first student to join at our Capitol Hill campus in D.C., and the embodiment of all we hope to instill in the students we serve, had a massive, positive impact on all those he touched. We consider ourselves fortunate to have been part of his journey, and we strive every day to live up to his ideals.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.