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When first I heard that DCPS schools were closing until April, I was very happy. Most of my classmates were excited and ready to have a fun spring break. Some weren't because their vacation plans have been canceled, but most of us were because we wouldn’t have to come to school for two weeks straight.
After the first week, it was not what I expected. Being self-quarantined at home for spring break and longer has not been the best. Although I am protecting myself from the virus, I’ve also been very bored. Being home these days and not going out has been no fun. I’ve started distance learning for school and my schedule is a bit hectic. There are several assignments being emailed to me from five different classes and it is getting very stressful to keep up with them. Most of my zoom classes don’t adhere to schedules so our meetings vary every week. This is anxiety inducing because I am constantly adjusting my personal schedule to fit in the zoom calls and my assigned work.
It's also hard to do group work at times because some of my peers don’t have access to internet or our school class schedules don’t align with each other. It was hard the first week getting used to distance learning but now in my third week, it’s getting easier. There are lots of downsides of distance learning, but one positive thing that I have gained from this experience is that I've improved on my time-management and organizational skills. I’ve been utilizing google calendar and my planner and it has significantly made me more productive.
Most of the rest of my time is spent scrolling on social media seeing memes, jokes, and tik-toks related to the virus. Some are finding the whole thing a joke while others are taking this situation a more seriously. Some are even scared that the “world is ending.” I am pretty nervous about what’s happening around me and I actually kind of miss being at school. It’s terrible having to spend the last few months of my senior year being home and worried about the Coronavirus. I wanted to make the best out of my senior year especially since now that all my college applications are out of the way, but I can’t while stuck in the house. I will have to make the best of it from home.
Diamond Hunter graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School and is one of the American Experience Foundation’s (AEF) 2018 scholarship recipients. She is currently a sophomore at Temple University and wants to obtain a Business Administration Degree in Finance. She plans to gain extensive work experience to fulfill her dream of becoming a Chief Financial Officer of a major hotel brand, and she desires to open her own international food and beverage chain of restaurants.
Winning the AEF scholarship has impacted Diamond’s life in numerous ways. She is very thankful for the scholarship because it enabled her to pursue her education out of state by taking care of her room and board expenses. The AEF scholarship is allowing her to continue her education at the Fox School of Business, and ultimately guiding her to achieve her dreams. “Not only has the foundation provided me with scholarships in support of my education,” says Diamond, ‘but, I have made lifelong relationships that have stretched far beyond completing high school.”
Diamond was first inspired to seek out mentors from her experience with AEF. She says her mentors go above and beyond to ensure that she is succeeding, they help her in college and are devoted to helping her secure internships that align with her career interests. According to Diamond, the AEF scholarship serves as motivation to continue to do her best. “Obtaining a degree is far more than a sign of accomplishment,” she says. “I plan to use my degree to improve my community; I plan to provide similar resources the foundation provides to more ambitious students like myself.”
Alex Wilson is the Director of Wilson High School’s Hospitality and Tourism Academy. He has worked there for several years and to this day, he truly enjoys helping kids find their true passion and helping them achieve their career aspirations. Mr. Wilson has great experience working for a government agency and a corporate business, and he even worked with the Latin American Youth Center, which he truly loved. He feels like it was bound for him to have multiple careers. Mr. Wilson believes that “every little step you take in life will lead you to something bigger.”
Working as an Academy Director at Wilson has been amazing for Mr. Wilson. It was very gratifying to him to see Wilson go from only one academy to now seven. A lot of what he does at Wilson leads to many changes for DCPS schools in general. He says that Wilson has several academies and strives to improve them, this inspires other DCPS schools to market themselves better.
Mr. Wilson genuinely likes working with kids, different principals and the school’s advanced placement coordinator. The best part of his job is that every day is different and exciting. One of his roles as a director is to recruit kids to join clubs and academies. He has to go to every 9th-grade class to convince them to join, and he believes that every kid should make an effort to join a club or an academy because it can lead them toward finding a career goal, especially within the Hospitality and Tourism Academy. He says that it helps students with big personalities get the chance to experience valuable life experiences. After years of making a positive difference in the lives of so many students, Mr. Wilson plans on retiring next year, but his experience at Wilson and working with kids has truly been delightful.
Judy Zheng is a member of the NAF Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Woodrow Wilson High School. She's been in the Academy for three years and loves every moment of it. In my interview with her, Judy reflected back on her time at the academy.
It all started in her sophomore year. Judy went to her guidance counselor asking for advice on her career goals. The counselor recommended the NAF Academy, which was a great program to get introduced to the hospitality industry and business administration.
Once in the program, she had opportunities to expand her networking, communication and customer service skills. She’s helped run the concession stand for Wilson’s football and basketball games, she’s assisted the robotics team on their event and she even gave tours of the school to parents for Back To School Night. All of these community service opportunities allowed her to interact with people and learn about different customer service experiences.
Judy has attended several college tours through the Academy, including James Madison University, George Mason University and even Delaware State University. The college tours that she attended her junior year were her most enjoyable and memorable experiences. She got a head start on her list of colleges she wanted to apply to her senior year. On the tour of George Mason University, she instantly knew that she wanted to apply there!
Another memorable experience in the Academy was when she got the opportunity to intern at Hyatt Hotel. She was thrilled to be chosen. Interning there during the summer has helped her learn more about hotels and how they run, such as how the front desk operated and how different departments interact with one another. Her job was to manage guests’ accounts, prepare breakfast and help maintain the hotel.
Now that Judy is in her senior year, she has really grown to love the business side of the hospitality industry. She said that the NAF Academy tremendously helped expose her to different career fields. From the day that her counselor suggested this program, she has learned so much! She is now confident in her college and career goals. The NAF Academy has made an influential impact on her chosen college and major. Judy thanks the NAF Academy for influencing her decision to attend George Mason University this fall and major in Business Administration.