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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Former DC SCORES participant reminisces

I recently caught up with distinguished DC SCORES alumnus Tuan Nguyen, who called me from his dorm at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. During our conversation, Tuan discussed his memories of DC SCORES and told me what he’s been up to since.

Tuan was a part of the DC SCORES afterschool program when he was in third through fifth grade at Harriet Tubman Elementary School from 1998-2001. I was his soccer and writing coach.

“We had a long string of losing seasons, I remember that,” Tuan laughs. “I remember once in a game against Marie Reed, it was one of those days. We were losing by a lot, but I broke free for a goal.

“I was running down the field and everybody was chanting, ‘Tuan, Tuan, Tuan, Tuan.’ I mean, I had just joined DC SCORES to have something to do after school; I never thought I would find myself in that position.

“If I wasn’t in DC SCORES, I just would have gone home and sat in front of the television. That’s what kids did back then, probably what they still do today. Another thing is, kids that weren’t in DC SCORES or another extracurricular in that early age group, I see them now and they’re the ones that are involved in gang activity or they just dropped out of high school.”

Tuan reminisced about the teambuilding activities and leadership games he participated in every day with DC SCORES:

“I definitely learned things I used later on when I was in real leadership positions. I was just put into those roles in other extracurriculars, and people came to me for guidance because I was a veteran (of DC SCORES).”

DC SCORES’ middle school program didn’t begin until 2004 – and then in just one school not located in Northwest DC -- so when Tuan moved on to Francis Junior High, he joined the football team. In 2005, Tuan was named the league’s defensive player of the year as a sophomore.

When an injury sidelined him during his junior year at McKinley Technical High School, Tuan poured his time and energy into the Robotics Club, the Foreign Language Club and the Italian Club, even traveling to Italy on a cultural exchange.

“The values of commitment, leadership and teamwork definitely stuck with me, and service evolved from that,” Tuan said. “I have always been active in the community. I don’t know if you already know this, but when I graduated from DCPS, I set the record for number of community service hours.”

And Tuan, like so many other program alumni, has continued to make DC SCORES staff proud as he matures into a young man.

Tuan Nguyen is a sophomore double major in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security at VCU. 

-- Written by Cory Chimka, Elementary School Program Director.

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