February 27, 2024

My Eight-Year Golf Journey: How it Shapes My Motivation for My Future

Alyssa is a senior TGR Learning Lab member with a passion for storytelling, STEAM, and golf. Through after-school programs she has explored career opportunities while building skills and support to prepare for her future. Proceeds from The Genesis Invitational proudly support TGR Foundation.

As a TGR Learning Lab member, I had the honor of attending the 2024 Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods. It was a time of opportunity, and I’m very thankful to represent the programs TGR Foundation has to offer. I first attended in 2019 and was extremely delighted to have been invited back. It felt like a reunion. I went with other TGR Learning Lab members to experience the tournament as spectators, take a glimpse behind the scenes, and explore possible careers.

In addition to being involved in tennis and golf, I’m passionate about storytelling, discovering the truth, and I lead other students as the editor-in-chief of my high school journalism club. I had an opportunity to attend the tournament as a member of the media on Sunday, February 18. I toured the media center and networked with journalists, media creators, and inspiring adults. As the tournament came to a close, I was also able to take a group photo with the 2024 Genesis Invitational Champion, Hideki Matsuyama! I even went back to the media center to watch the press conference up close, listening to Matsuyama’s answers to questions about his experience. It was a moment of excitement and gratitude!

As a Filipino-Mexican-American, I have a strong drive and a desire to represent the underrepresented Southeast Asian, Hispanic, and multi-racial communities. I want to see more diversity in the golfing community, and that led me to get engaged in the game. My experience with golf has proven to be not only enjoyable, but also a means of making new connections and expanding my network. This all started with a free, week-long educational field trip to the TGR Learning Lab as a fifth grader attending Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School.

I was provided with proper guidance on the sport of golf by experienced players and coaches, as it was part of the field trip schedule. Despite not perfecting every stroke or swing I attempted, I knew that I needed to start and somehow tidy up my mistakes. With that mindset, I pushed myself harder, became immersed in the mini-games and started hitting in the driving range. By the end of the field trip, I’d acquired the basics of holding the golf clubs properly, understanding different swinging formations and setting the stage for junior high golf.

Once I entered seventh grade, I was eligible to participate in the TGR Learning Lab after-school programs, including golf. I didn’t hesitate to sign up, and the TGR Learning Lab became a part of my school life and routine after school.

In eighth grade, I felt a sense of achievement after maintaining the lowest score in a competition against junior high and high school players. I was given a surprise by my instructor, a free golf club. As many thought one golf club was not enough, I knew it was enough for me to start practicing at home. In March 2020, many things took an unexpected turn during the pandemic lockdown. Having the golf club gave me the opportunity to continue practicing my skills at home in the backyard and persevere during the tough times.

I started playing golf as a competitive sport in high school after the pandemic, utilizing the skills I learned at the TGR Learning Lab. My first year of competitive golf in 10th grade led me into the girls varsity team. There were eight players, and I was ranked #3; the other two players were seniors and had life-long experience. I was selected as the Most Improved Player (MIP) in 2022. The next season in 11th grade, I improved my skills and was ranked #1. I had one of the lowest scores in a nine-hole course of 38. I was invited to the league finals, but a tennis match I was also competing in on the same day. The tennis match was not an ordinary one and without my presence, my tennis team wouldn’t make it to the California Interscholastic Federation Tennis Championship. So, I played in my tennis match instead and we won again, which led us to the CIF.

When entering 12th grade, I was flabbergasted to hear news of my beloved and wholesome golf coach being relocated to another school, which meant my golf team lost our coach and I wouldn’t be able to play in my last year of high school. Although tennis is my main sport, I enjoyed golf so much that I wanted to squeeze it into my schedule. I managed to perform very well in varsity golf and tennis within the same season. In addition to ambition, I also built skills in endurance, composure in stressful events and time management. Hitting the ball, carrying the clubs and improving my swinging technique, also helped me in tennis. Golf gave me the challenge to control my actions and think.

Being a long-term TGR Learning Lab member is an honor, and I will remember to keep a growth mindset, be open-minded, and always be grateful. Once I have secured my potential career, I will buy myself equipment for golf as a leisure activity to play in the future and reunite with my high school golfing friends!

My Passions for STEAM and How the TGR Learning Lab Impacted Me Academically

I’ve been an eight-year member of the TGR Learning Lab, and my experience has been nothing short of transformative. My passions range from Computer Science and Environmental Sciences, including Astrobiology, Cybersecurity, and Journalism! I aim to learn about the intersections of different interdisciplinary fields.

As a high school student aspiring to become a woman in STEAM, I found myself taking the majority of computer science classes and different courses that piqued my interest at the TGR Learning Lab held after school post-elementary, which provided free bus transportation. I wanted to explore the world of STEAM, specifically topics regarding technology, biology, and more that stem from it. My time with the programs allowed me to narrow down my interests and it was perfect to discover what I was the most interested about. My first ever class in the learning lab was video game design back when I was in seventh grade. I remember being extremely shy and nervous, but after a few sessions, I quickly opened up my bubble and started to go outside of my comfort zone. This led me to make a lot of friends from Anaheim Union High School District whom I am still connected today. After my first positive experience with the TGR Learning Lab, I kept signing up for more classes and completed 15 classes from seventh to ninth grade, ranging from golf lessons to marine biology, technology, robotics, 3D printing (D3 Lab), app and web design, and space science.

The TGR Learning Lab provided students with workshops ranging from mental health to college preparation, even during the pandemic. Back in my freshman year of high school, I found myself signing up for daily workshops from various college representatives to better understand the college application process. The TGR Learning Lab helped me find scholarships to apply for post-high school. I also gained insights on experiencing the process of college applications and was provided with a great deal of support, which led my stress levels to deflate. Instead, I enjoyed the application process as well as finding it rewarding. Being an active member of the TGR Learning Lab, I see myself as a champion for youth, as not only has this free opportunity impacted me, but I am seeing an exponential increase in other youth finding their passions, learning and engaging in the world of STEAM through classes the Learning Lab has to offer. Through my personal experiences, I advocate for women in STEAM, people of color, and first-generation students. I aim to demonstrate that students like me can overcome adversity and thrive, making a positive impact on the world around us.

As a soon-to-be undergraduate freshman at a four-year university, my goal is to utilize the future of technology to tackle chronic environmental issues such as climate change or research life locations on different planets and use journalism to share my findings!