January 12, 2024

Annual Winter Workshop unites partners, alumni to empower scholars for college success

First-generation college students returning to class often find themselves overwhelmed with limited support. TGR Foundation eases the burdens of Earl Woods Scholars kicking off the year with its annual Winter Workshop.  

Held January 3-5 at the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, the 2024 Winter Workshop united more than 60 students of all levels from colleges and universities across the country. Most scholars are the first in their families to pursue higher education and benefit from personalized support to navigate their unique challenges. Throughout the event, they had opportunities to connect with peers, prepare for their remaining college years and build skills to maximize their experience and overcome obstacles on their path to graduation. The Foundation collaborates with partners who are committed to its mission of empowering students to pursue their passions through education.  

Participating Earl Woods Scholars gather in the TGR Learning Lab lobby after a luncheon celebrating graduating seniors during the 2024 Winter Workshop.

Among the partners participating were Providence, Bank of America and Macy’s, which all offered support in numerous ways from leading personal and professional development presentations to facilitating mock interviews and providing resources.  

In addition to a workshop on finding a sense of belonging facilitated by Anna Nguyen, Providence Behavioral Therapist, Providence caregivers also served as mock interviewers and engaged scholars in a service project to encourage its elderly patients. 

Matthew Kim and fellow Earl Woods Scholars prepare encouraging notes and care packages for ill and elderly Providence Patients during 2024 Winter Workshop.

“I’ve done a lot of workshops and I’ve gotten to know a lot of scholars [through our partnership with TGR Foundation],” said Nguyen “Going through college and big life transitions without these opportunities is incredibly difficult. I care about these scholars as human beings, and it means the world to me to be able to participate.”

This year’s class of graduating seniors had a unique experience after enduring two years of college life through hybrid and virtual formats due to the pandemic. Winter Workshops were the highlight for Juan Contreras, a senior aerospace engineering major at the University of Southern California.  

“The winter workshops and being able to interact with professionals from a variety of industries has been most beneficial,” said Contreras “Being able to converse with these industry professionals has been very helpful in getting the mindset and spoken experience about how I can prepare best for life after college. In the future, I’d like to give back and help foster relationships that I’ve been fortunate to experience through TGR Foundation.”  

Earl Woods Scholar Juan Contreras, a senior at the University of Southern California reflects on his experience and shares gratitude during a graduation luncheon at the TGR Learning Lab.

As underclassmen scholars work toward graduation, the workshops fostered confidence while building transferrable skills from the classroom into their future careers.  

“The workshop on résumés and templates for professional documents was most helpful,” said Gabriela Parra, a freshman at Macalester College. “I often find myself confused on what information I should provide, but now I have templates I can refer to and tackle the process with less anxiety.”  

From soft skills to personal presentation, Macy’s helped junior scholars shop for suits, gifted by the Foundation to expand their professional wardrobes and provided insights on grooming. 

“I thought it was very helpful how we not only learned about workplace attire, but also about hair and makeup,” said Giselle Curiel who attends Dartmouth College. “I feel like these factors are most often overlooked. The Macy’s employees who led the workshop were so knowledgeable and made the experience really memorable. I have had internships where I was required to dress business casual, but this workshop still taught me so much. I also believe that having this workshop during our junior year is perfect timing for summer internships.” 

Earl Woods Scholar learns about professional grooming while being fitted for a new suit courtesy of Macy’s during the annual Winter Workshop.

A graduation luncheon to celebrate the class of 2024 gave seniors an opportunity to reflect on their last four years of college, practice their public speaking skills and express gratitude to those who have supported their journeys.  

Winter Workshop is one of the ways TGR Foundation helps Earl Woods Scholars learn, grow and prepare for their futures. Visit TGRFoundation.org for more information on ways to get involved.