June 28, 2016

My transformational experience at the Tiger Woods Learning Center, D.C.

In the halls of Cesar Chavez Public Charter School at Capitol Hill there is one room that allows students to conduct research, complete their robotics assignment, play a game of chess, use a 3D printer and much more: the Tiger Woods Learning Center (TWLC). As a recent graduate of TWLC’s after-school program and of Cesar Chavez, I had a memorable time working and laughing alongside my friends and engaging in innovative ideas at the learning center.

I began visiting the learning center during my freshman year for a research and presentation class but was pulled in when I learned that they offered chess at the library. Seeing friends there working and relaxing from the school day encouraged me to join TWLC and make this space part of my own routine. Plus, many of my friends in the program were pestering me to join!

As a member, I not only began connecting with friends and staff, but my time at the learning center grew into so much more. TWLC became my space to complete my homework, explore opportunities in technology and engineering, and later work as an intern before leaving for New Orleans in my junior year. During those two weeks as an intern, I learned how to do many things: develop a video for the New Orleans & Back program at Chavez, install technology and software on computers at the Parkside campus before the organization would close for the summer, and how college admissions officers judge applications.

I still remember a day when we were working nonstop, editing a crucial video that was to be presented at the annual assembly showcasing the New Orleans & Back program. My friend and I were brainstorming different ideas to make the video work. One night we tested different ways to make it pop and what software would work. It wasn’t until 6:42 p.m. when the video finally came together. It was a great time and I was glad to see that a TWLC staff member, Mr. McGlone, was happy and willing to stay late with us for the project’s success.

Weeks before leaving the school toward graduation, I recall seeing TWLC staff in the Public Policy Symposium as I deliberated on the Syrian refugee crisis in Georgetown. And again, at my graduation, where I was the valedictorian with high honors, they were in the crowd supporting me. Looking back, I can proclaim that the Tiger Woods Learning Center and its staff cares for its students and their success.

Champions of the unexpected for 20 years.