In today's post, we hear from Claudia Flores, a fourth-year sociology major at UC Berkeley. Despite personal and financial struggles over the years, Claudia never lost sight of her dream of attending and graduating from college. She personifies perseverance. With graduation soon approaching and plans to enter nursing school, Claudia looks back and reflects on her experience as an Earl Woods Scholar and opens up about what she's gained from attending the Tiger Woods Foundation's annual Winter Workshop over the years. 

The Earl Woods Scholar Program has been one of the most rewarding programs I could have been blessed to be a part of. It not only taught me various things about myself, but it brought me another family to have on the long journey throughout my years at UC Berkeley. Having now attended four Winter Workshops during my time as an Earl Woods Scholar, I can look back and see that these sessions gave me the reinforcement I needed after a long, stressful year of challenging academic work. The workshops allowed me to connect with and share memories with my fellow peers, but also encouraged me to grow and reflect as a scholar. 

The Winter Workshops provided me with many resources -- from public speaking, etiquette and LinkedIn tips, to managing my personal and academic finances and guidance on life after college. Not to mention, I was able to meet and network with many exceptional professional speakers that spoke on panels while I was there. 

This foundation is my second family because regardless of the distance between us, the Earl Woods Scholar team is always one phone call away without hesitation. Since the beginning of the program, my cohort and I bonded very easily despite not knowing one another. Ever since our first interaction, we created our very own family. I remember preparing myself for a relay race during one particular event and thinking who my partner may be. Sure enough my brilliant partner Lenny turned out to be one of my best of friends despite our not even attending the same school. I have made lifelong friends by being part of this foundation, and each winter session the bond is reinforced by all the great conversation and mini sessions we have with one another. 

That being said, our cohort session was one of the most memorable sessions during Winter Workshop because they reinforced that all the struggles we have faced throughout the years in college were not quite different. Sharing our stories with one another was something we all enjoyed as it allowed us to support and encourage one another before going back to continue our academic journeys. The Winter Workshop and the foundation in general has supported and encouraged me throughout my years in college, and is something I will never take for granted because it encouraged me to strive for my dreams and graduate on time.

The foundation has taught me to not be afraid of the new endeavors I am going to face in the near future. They remind me that we are all intelligent individuals that have overcome tougher obstacles than the ones we believe we might face. It is their encouragement that keeps me from stopping. Each and every one of us have embarked on a path that only we can see the finish line to. With all the life lessons delivered by this foundation, we leave each Winter Workshop rejuvenated and ready to tackle the next challenge thrown our way.  

Champions of the unexpected.