Stephanie Navarrete said she has been a sports fanatic for a long time, playing basketball and softball throughout high school. She said she has always known she wanted to do something connected to sports as a career.
But when it came time to choose a major for college, Navarrete said she was unsure what to do. That is until her science teacher suggested she think about going into physical therapy.
No way, she thought. Too many science courses. Now she’s in her third year at Syracuse University, studying physical therapy.
“There’s so much you can do with physical therapy,” she said. “Ideally I’d like to work in athletics but even if I don’t I feel like I could enjoy because it helps people who are in pain.”
Navarrete, 20, was able to get to college through the Tiger Woods Foundation’s Earl Woods Scholarship program. She is one of 25 District students who have received scholarships through the program since its inception in 2006. Last week, Woods was in town playing at the AT&T National, which benefits the scholarship program.
Candidates for the scholarship must demonstrate academic achievement in high school (a minimum grade point average of 3.0); a commitment to community service; and financial need to qualify for the scholarship.
The scholarship provides a renewable $5,000 scholarship for four years, admissions counseling, mentoring and finds recipients paid internships related to their studies. Each winter the scholars are flown to California for a four-day workshop on career preparation, including mock interviews and resume writing.
This summer, Navarrete is interning at Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation in the District, where she helps patients during their sessions.
“You get a lot of additional help that I feel like a lot of kids don’t get at this time,” Navarrete said. “It’s putting us ahead of the game.”
Yury Amaya is also a scholarship winner. As a rising junior at Georgetown University, Amaya is studying psychology and minoring in government planning. Her family immigrated from El Salvador more than 30 years ago, and that act has sparked a desire by the 19-year-old to become an immigration lawyer.
“I want to help people that don’t know the resources that are out there,” Amaya said. “Because of the language barriers they might not know their options.”
Amaya said she’s proud to be the first in her family to go to college.
“In almost three years I didn’t let myself fall if I didn’t see a light,” she said. “I’ve done a pretty good job not quitting if I feel like I can’t handle something.”
She gives a lot of credit to her mentor and others in the scholarship program for always being there with a listening ear, something that has helped her adjust to college.
“If I need anything I can go and talk to them, they’re always there to help me,” Amaya said. “It’s just been a second family I can turn to if I feel alone or stressed.”
There are 70 scholars from across the country who have participated in the program, and the foundation hopes to expand that number.
As for Navarrete, she’ll soon head to Australia to take a class on the country’s sports industry.
“(The foundation) doesn’t just try to throw out money to us,” she said. “They try to be there for us.”