Dr. Timothy Vu immigrated from Vietnam to the Little Saigon community in Orange County 26 years ago. As he navigated life in America, he knew he could overcome his obstacles if he saw them as motivation to fuel his success.
With a network of support from family, teachers and TGR Foundation’s Earl Woods Scholar Program, Vu is the first person in his family to graduate high school, college, post-graduate school and become a working professional.
Currently residing in Garden Grove, Ca. with his parents and younger brother, Vu graduated UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in both Biology and English. He later completed medical school at the University of California, Irvine while simultaneously earning his Master’s in Business Administration.
Between shifts as an Internal Medicine Resident at UC Irvine Medical Center, Vu opened up about his path to medicine and the support he received along the way.
As we reflect on the many highlights of 2021 we can all acknowledge the change and revivals we experienced together. From advancements in medical approaches to the Coronavirus to the reopening of schools and businesses, this year gave us reasons to reflect where we’ve come from, celebrate how we moved forward and continue working toward a brighter future for everyone.
Joining a global day of generosity on Giving Tuesday, November 30, 2021, TGR Foundation seeks support for its education programs in 2022 and beyond.
Now, more than ever, quality education and career readiness are critical for student success. To meet the increasing challenges students, educators and families face, the foundation is expanding existing partnerships to continue providing free education programs, resources and support.
Growing up I was always fascinated by how things worked. I was the kid that took apart the remote control and put it back together again. My parents knew early on that if my hands were busy, so was my mind. And they knew I came alive when I was working with my hands.
Sometimes, when my mom was off from work, she’d take me to a science store in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, across the river from our home in Philadelphia. I’d leave with some sort of D.I.Y. kit, like a baking soda volcano or a robot making set.
My dad was on the road a lot, working as a truck driver, but when he’d come round, we’d sit for hours and build RC model planes. And sometimes, if we finished early enough, we’d head over to the airport, park the car and sit for hours, watching the planes take off and land. It never got old.
Staring up into the sky, with my dad by my side and airplanes overhead, I knew, even as an eight-year-old kid from Philly, that I would be a pilot one day.
I’m 21-years-old now, and nearly one year into my eighteen-month program at flight mechanic school. I’m excited about what awaits me after I graduate, but the road to get where I am today was not always clear or easy.
Currently a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, 16-year Christian Seong has a lot on his plate – and he likes it that way. When he’s not spending his free time thrift shopping or drawing, Christian keeps himself active and involved at school, and currently serves as the Associated Student Body President. Christian is also the Program Choir President of the Kennedy Singers and the co-President/co-Founder of the Humanitarian Resource Association as well as the John F. Kennedy High School Humanitarian Resource Association Branch Club. This summer, Christian participated in TGR Foundation’s virtual College Bound Academy (CBA) program, where he received the college guidance and support he was looking for. Read more about his experience with CBA.
With TGR Learning Lab campuses and the renowned Earl Woods Scholar Program impacting students across the country, TGR Foundation had established itself as a leader in STEM education and college-access by 2016. In spite of countless student success stories at that time, our founder, Tiger Woods, wanted to achieve more and set a goal to reach millions of students around the world. To reach that goal – in years, not decades – TGR Foundation began working to build a digital presence from the ground up.
We started by asking driving questions including and them with the launch of TGREDUExplore.org, a free platform developed in partnership with Discovery Education.
At just 14-years-old, Christopher “Topher” Cornell loves to take on new challenges. In the year-and-a half that he’s been a TGR Learning Lab student member, Topher has joined numerous classes exploring topics from graphic design to app development and forensics. A high school freshman at Cambridge Virtual Academy, Topher partook in the TGR Learning Lab’s Pi-ology class this summer and had the opportunity to work with a Raspberry Pi for the first time. Learn more about his hands-on experience with the Pi and how he plans to incorporate what he’s learned into his possible future career!
As educators come through the TGR Learning Lab for the very first time, they often hear the excited chatter from students busy tinkering and creating. From the mechanical sounds of gears rotating within the 3D printers to EV3 robots zipping up and down the hallways, there is a palpable energy throughout the building.
These educators quickly catch onto the enthusiasm coming from the students who are given the unique opportunity to move beyond textbooks and truly take charge of their learning. Having worked with both students and educators, what I’ve come to recognize is that regardless of our age or life experiences, we all have a natural curiosity and a desire to be life-long learners. Teachers love to be just as engaged as their students. It reminds them firsthand of what their students will be challenged with when they learn new concepts.
Over the past year, our team has learned to embrace change. Prior to March 2020 – all our incoming Earl Woods Scholars would gather at the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, CA to partake in our annual Pre-College Retreat. However, this year was different; our team had to pivot and transform an in-person event to a virtual setting.
Our first priority was to keep our scholars safe by having them attend the event from home. Keeping to tradition, the Pre-College Retreat remained a two-day event. We had 15 scholars join us from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Orange County, CA.
Being a first-generation college student comes with a lot of pride and a sense of accomplishment, but it also comes with a lot of challenges. My parents, who immigrated from Mexico as unaccompanied minors, paved the way for me to succeed but did not know how to support me academically. I did well throughout my early education and through high school, but I did not decide on a path or clearly know of the college path until my high school counselor nominated me for the Earl Woods Scholar Program.
I can honestly say that being an Earl Woods Scholar was life changing. It laid the foundation for my later achievements and allowed me to truly understand the value of mentorship.
As any educator knows, students invariably leave a mark. Whether your orbits pass quickly, or they line up for months or years, your time with a student – the shared learning experiences, the bits of laughter or frustration, the feeling one gets during moments of reflection – is lasting. For some, it might be the slightest bout of recognition (“That’s right, you sat in the back corner of my class!”); for others, for one reason or another, no amount of time can completely wash away a set of memories. Elmu Sadalah was one of those students who left an indelible mark.
EdTech Breakthrough recently recognized TGR EDU: Explore as the Overall College Prep Solution of the Yearin its EdTech Breakthrough Awards. Including the suite of college access and preparation resources highlighted, TGR EDU: Explore is a free digital platform, developed in partnership with Discovery Education, to empower students, educators and families with resources, skills and experiences to help them achieve success in and outside of the classroom.
When I began working at TGR Foundation 16 years ago, I was tasked with developing college-access and readiness programs. At the time, I knew we were setting out to help high schoolers and their families plan for higher education, but I truly didn’t know how deep and expansive our impact would run. Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, passed in May 2006, and following his death came the birth of […]
As I look back on the 15 years since the TGR Learning Lab opened its doors to students and families in Anaheim, California, I am immensely proud of the hard work, growth and student success that has taken place. Thousands of underserved students have walked through our doors into a safe space that has given them opportunities they might not have had otherwise. The Learning Lab has helped students find their passion and pursue it, experience innovation and foster creativity all while being supported by caring adults to mentor and guide them on their journey.
As TGR Foundation celebrates National Volunteer Appreciation Week, the TGR Learning Lab shines a spotlight on TGR Learning Lab volunteer Nancy Rich Villa. Nancy’s experience as a volunteer with virtual STEM classes reconfirmed her decision to pursue a career supporting underserved youth.
A mother and a full-time student, Nancy will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology Science from the University of California, Irvine this June. She plans to attend graduate school at Cal State Fullerton to work toward a master’s degree in social work.
Here she shares her experience being a virtual volunteer with the TGR Learning Lab’s instructional staff and community of students during the pandemic.
I was born in a village in China and my only perception of the world used to be my village. It wasn’t until my parents decided to take a leap of faith and fly more than 1,500 miles to the United States so I could pursue the “American Dream” that my perception of the world expanded. Because my parents did not speak English, I had to navigate this foreign place on my own. I have been trying to pave my own path from the moment I landed in the United States, with both successes and failures.
I heard “you need to go to college to get a good job” my entire life. I was always told I needed to attend a school like UCLA or UC Berkeley because it was all my parents heard from other people. Though these school names became very familiar, I had absolutely no idea how to get there. Until my junior year of high school, I had no idea what the SAT, FAFSA, UC applications and even the Common Application was. As the first person in my family to apply for the FAFSA and fill out college applications, I was met with obstacles at every step. However, through a college-access program called College Match, I not only gained the tools and support to pursue higher education, I discovered the Earl Woods Scholar Program in the process.
Today, TGR Foundation, A Tiger Woods Charity, announced a new partnership with Find Your Grind Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Los Angeles-based self-discovery and career exploration platform, Find Your Grind. The multi-year partnership brings together two organizations with a shared mission to help young people discover who they are, identify their strengths and interests and offer multiple pathways to personal and professional success.
After years of reaching young people across the country through education and youth development programs, Tiger Woods challenged his foundation “to make bold choices, explore unchartered territory and reach millions of kids around the world.” Now in its 25th anniversary year, TGR Foundation has met his challenge and celebrates two million students reached.
In 1996, when Tiger and his parents launched TGR Foundation, they set out to do something profoundly simple yet deeply impactful – give kids hope. As we enter into TGR Foundation’s 25th anniversary, at an unprecedented time when hardships feel insurmountable, the ability to give kids from our most vulnerable communities a sense of hope feels all the more urgent and critical.
With 2021 marking a milestone year for the foundation, we look to our founder to share his vision for our next chapter. Tiger’s goal for us, once again, is inherently simple yet visionary – to provide young people with a clear path to personal excellence and professional success. While this next chapter of the foundation’s journey is my first at the helm of the organization, the groundwork has been long established.
“An unprecedented year”
We’ve heard that phrase many times this year, and although it’s a reflective sentiment for the pandemic, it’s also cause to acknowledge diversity, ensure equity and to seek inclusivity – individually and collectively.
TGR Foundation has learned a lot in 2020, and I am proud to share how we advanced our programmatic work in new and still impactful ways.