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Success  Stories

Introduction

Our students, ranging from preschool through 12th grade, develop the skills that help them build upon each concept they learn. With individualized learning plans, motivation and practice, our center prepares students to become avid learners, encouraging success throughout their entire academic experience and beyond.


Testimonial

Olivia Zhang's Story

Olivia Zhang 2

Meet Olivia Zhang, a former Kumon Student and presently, the founder and CEO of nonprofit Cancer Kids First. Olivia attended Kumon alongside her sister for many years. When she looks back at her experiences at KUMON, Olivia shares that the informative sessions served as a way not only for her to increase her skills in math, but also enhanced her understanding of classroom material. "KUMON was the reason why I was able to stay on top of my math work in school", she says. "Math has never been my strong suit. Something my classmates could learn and understand in 30 minutes would take me 2 hours; it was a subject I've struggled in for so long." But, Olivia credits KUMON for helping her overcome this obstacle. "KUMON targeted my weaknesses and gave me practice that allowed me to push ahead of my classmates. The work is just challenging enough that it doesn't overwhelm you, but forces you to commit."

Over the summer of her eighth grade year, Olivia lost two people that were huge role models in her life to cancer: her grandfather and her elementary school teacher. Olivia battled grief for a long time, but their deaths also helped her realize the number of people who were affected by this disease. When Olivia entered high school, she directed her focus towards creating an organization that would channel her passion into helping kids with cancer and their families.

Cancer Kids First (CKF) was launched in December of 2019. CKF's mission is to provide kids with cancer with a better childhood. They aim to normalize the hospital environment, inspire patients to keep fighting, and spark some joy within patients' lives through their many programs. CKF is also working towards helping patients internationally access treatment and care, while funding research for new cures.

Presently, at 16, Olivia leads over 18,000 youth across more than 40 countries to aid pediatric cancer patients. CKF has sent over 20,000 cards, donated 15,000 items, and raised over $25,000. Their impact spans thousands of patients throughout the US and has even reached countries such as Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, Portugal, Canada, the U.K., Guam, and Bangladesh.

Just this past month, Olivia and Cancer Kids First was awarded the 2021 WEGO Health Best Team Performance award. In addition to winning this award, Olivia got to fly to Boston to attend the HLTH conference, the largest and most important conference for health innovation. There, Olivia was recognized as the youngest world top patient leader, and was able to hear from leading companies about the future of health, including Google, Youtube, CVS, Walmart, Pfizer, and Moderna.

The HLTH conference and WEGO Health award ceremony was among the most significant events in Olivia's student career. "I don't think I'll ever experience an event that'll top that one! Meeting other incredible patient advocates and health industry leaders inspired me to continue the work I'm doing. I connected with some outstanding people who taught me an immense amount of important knowledge about the disparities present in our current health field, as well as about the emerging technologies that'll better the lives of many.” Olivia is excited to serve on the WEGO Health advisory board and continue collaborations with like-minded organizations to advance the health community.

What are some activities you enjoy doing outside of school and Kumon?

Something I've loved since I was young is art, specifically painting. Art gives me a way and medium to express myself. It also gives me the chance to create pieces to brighten other people's days.

Another hobby I have is baking. While I'm not especially good at it, I enjoy finding new recipes online to try out for my family. 

I also really love traveling, and simply being out in nature. Absorbing new cultures and languages excites me; my favorite place I've been so far is either Mexico or Italy!

What was your favorite part of Kumon?

I loved taking the tests. I got nervous before them, but I loved receiving my score back and being able to get a reward for passing the level. Watching myself advance always motivated me to do better. 

KUMON was also an incredibly calming place; the environment is amazing, and all the instructors are such kind-hearted people. I remember how hectic my schedule was in middle school. I often found myself feeling overwhelmed with everything I had to do. Going to KUMON gave me a little break that enabled me to regroup and focus on the tasks on hand.

What's an important lesson you learned throughout your journey in becoming a CEO?

A lesson I will always carry with me is that mistakes or failures are not what define you. Rather, how you respond to those mistakes is. 

People often view mistakes or failing as the worst things that can happen and things that should be avoided at all costs. As a perfectionist, this was something I believed too. However, throughout my journey of managing Cancer Kids First, I've realized the crucialness of making mistakes. Self-growth and reflection is key to becoming a better leader and better person. Although, without mistakes or overcoming challenges, it's hard to self-reflect and improve upon yourself. Instead of spending your energy stressing over the need to succeed at every aspect of your life, direct your attention to building yourself back up after a failure, or recognizing your mistakes so you can grow from them.

What are some tips you have for Kumon students?

1) If you have a dream to change the world, take the initiative to implement that project, innovation, or organization to better society! Don't be afraid to take that leap to kickstart your idea. There are so many issues in the world. If you can make a difference in someone's life, why not do it?

2) Productivity and time management is key. Juggling school work, CKF, and other extracurriculars is difficult, but it is so worth it. However, it took me a long time to figure out a schedule that worked for me. I had to learn how to limit distractions and how to plan accordingly. For me, always having a planner at hand to keep track of what I have to do each day helps ensure I don't miss a deadline. Taking advantage of all the breaks I have—whether that's lunch break or passing periods—provides me with the time to accomplish more. I also use apps that limit the time I spend on certain apps, such as TikTok, to cut down distractions. All of these combined have improved my efficiency; I'm able to stay on top of all my work while having the energy to put 100% into everything I do. If you want to be able to achieve your goals, adopting practices that help you work more productively is vital. Try out different strategies to come up with a plan that suits you best!


Amina Chowdhury's Story

Amina

My name is Amina, and I am currently in7th grade at Middle School. I was enrolled in the Kumon Reading Program when I was in 4th grade. I started from level B, and it took me about three years to complete the program. It challenged me to improve my reading and writing skills. 


Kumon Reading Program has taught me many new things every day. My parents enrolled me in this program so that I could get a better grasp of reading. The instructors are very kind at the McLean Kumon Center. When I asked any questions, they would always help me understand them better. I like the correction process Kumon offers. Instead of correcting my mistakes, they would always mark my mistakes so that I could fix them myself. This has helped me learn from my mistakes and not repeat them.


My favorite part of the program was reading through the comprehensive passages. Kumon introduced me to many interesting pieces of literature. Not only did I read passages, but I also got a better understanding of them. Answering the questions improved both my reading and writing skills. The Kumon instructors gave me tips on how to improve so I could get better at my grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Reading and answering the questions made me enjoy reading and writing even more as I progressed through the reading program. 


When I grow up, I want to be a medical doctor. I am thankful for how Kumon has improved my thought process. I would like to give a huge thanks to Ms. Aoi and all the Kumon instructors for helping me come this far and complete the program. I appreciate all their hard work and patience to help students like me build critical thinking skills that would carry on throughout our lives.


Yuehao Xu and her story

My name is Yuehao, and I am a high school Junior at McLean. I have been a Kumon student for almost as long as I have been a student at school, and I am currently one of the staff members here at the McLean Kumon Center.

                I enrolled with the Kumon Math program when I entered 2nd grade, mainly because I struggled with addition and subtraction. I began with level A, and worked my way to level F when I moved to the U.S. during 4th grade. After working consistently with Kumon for three years, I gained the study skills which allowed me to learn comfortably at the class's pace, but I was often bored by the materials. I needed extra challenges outside of the school's curriculum, but my parents had busy work schedules that did not allow them to take extra time to tutor me after school. Private tutors were too expensive, and many tutoring centers failed to offer a systematic approach to teaching math. Two years after the immigration, our family was happy to discover that Kumon had centers open in North America, and I resumed my studies once again in 7th grade at a center in Utah. Since my study was interrupted, I was drawn back to level D to review and reinforce basic math concepts. I moved again in 9th grade to McLean, VA and enrolled as a level K student in McLean Kumon Center.

                I believe Kumon, over the years, has become a much more fun program for kids to study. The Kumon Cosmic Club was new to me when I reenrolled during junior high, and it was one of many factors that motivated me to resume my studies and work with my Kumon instructors persistently on top of school work. There are also programs in Reading and Japanese, which didn't exist when I first joined. I was also enrolled in the reading program during 7th and 8th grade, and it introduced many great literature works to me, such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

                From years of Kumon study, I learned to arrange my schedule to work efficiently, and maintained my pace of completing an average of 5-10 pages a day. Besides working on Kumon worksheets, I also actively participated in other extracurricular activities offered by my community. I'm involved with four honor societies at my school, and I am also identified as a gifted student enrolled with Stanford's EPGY program, as well as John Hopkins University's CTY program. Thanks to Kumon, my favorite subject became math, and I am working three years ahead of my peers. I graduated from Kumon's math program in 2009, and became an assistant at the McLean Kumon center shortly thereafter.

                Kumon and I have worked together for as long as I can remember, and I cannot thank the instructors enough for being there for me when I needed help with my studies. If there's one thing I regret, it is the two years I had to give up my Kumon studies when our family relocated. Making a consistent effort for eight years has really paid off in the end with the math program, and I am looking forward to possibly picking up the reading program or the Japanese program after my Junior year. I hope my story serves as an insight into the wonderful things Kumon offers to its students, and of course, I hope you and your child make the most out of Kumon.