Student Spotlight: Avion Phillip

Avion Phillip is a 15-year-old sophomore at Eagle Harlem who joined our after school program this spring. He spends weekdays with his grandparents in Harlem and weekends with his mom on the Lower East Side. He recently fielded some questions from Charlie Hanger, digital content manager for The Bridge Golf Foundation.

CH: How did you learn about The Bridge Golf Foundation?

AP: Michael Mancz and Brian Hwang came to Eagle and did a presentation. They talked about what they did in the after school program and handed out applications. My guidance counselor reached out to my family about it and recommended me, and now here I am.

CH: What did you know about golf before joining the program?

AP: I didn’t know much. I didn’t know any of the names of the clubs or anything. I knew that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were two of the best players, but that was about it. But I knew some of the other guys in the program from Eagle, and they showed me a few things about how to play the game and taught me the names of the clubs and helped me learn. They brought me along.

CH: What do you think so far?

AP: It’s been going well. I’ve learned a lot about how to hit the ball from the golf pros, and the tutors have really helped with my academics. I’ve been working on global history with Stéphane (Samuel) and geometry with Oscar (Flores). Now I understand the work more than I did before, and my grades are improving.

CH: What’s the status of your golf game?

AP: When I first got to the Learning Center, they had me start with chipping, and then I tried each club. At first I found the driver really hard. It was tough not to hit the ground before I hit the ball. But now I’m able to hit all of the clubs, and I’m working on my stance and the follow through and keeping my eye on the ball.

CH: What’s your favorite part of the program so far?

AP: I like all of the technology. The simulator makes practice really realistic, and you actually feel like you’re on the golf course. You can practice all of the shots, and it has many different courses you can play on.

CH: What are some challenges you face as a young man of color growing up in Harlem?

AP: There are a lot of bad influences out there, and gang activity. It hasn’t really impacted me personally, but I see it, and some of my friends have gotten into bad crowds.

CH: What are your career aspirations?

AP: I want to be a robotics engineer. I like technology, and I like building things. I’m in the coding class at Eagle. We’ve been learning JavaScript, CSS, and jQuery. Our class also got to go to the Salesforce office and meet with software engineers from different companies — Google, Salesforce, and some others. We asked questions, they gave us feedback, and then we had a mini coding lesson with them.

CH: What else are you into?

AP: I play chess and football. When I was in middle school, I was in the chess club and we went to tournaments and nationals, but I don’t play that much anymore. I’m a wide receiver and running back on my flag football team. If they have a team at Eagle Harlem next year, I’m going to try out. I’m not really a gamer, but I watch a lot of movies — “Black Panther,” “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” “The Jungle Book,” and I want to see the new version of “The Lion King.”

CH: What was the last book you read?

AP: “Inherit the Wind.” Our ELA teacher assigned us all parts and we read them aloud in class.