Diversity a greater priority for Evans Scholarship Foundation
This fall Anna Herrera will attend the University of Illinois.
Yes, big deal.
The Warren High School graduate, from a single-parent household in Waukegan, will be the first in her family to attend college. She'd had her sights set on community college, but an Evans Scholarship presented a whole new vista.
"Applying to the Evans was the best decision I have made because it's helped me out a lot," said Herrera, who caddied at Highland Park's Northmoor Country Club since she was 12 years old.
A club member introduced her to the Evans Scholars program, wrote a letter of recommendation on her behalf and helped her through the process.
Starting in 1930, the program provides full housing and tuition college scholarships valued at an estimated $120,000 over four years. Based on caddie record, academics, financial need and character, applicants in Illinois also were vetted in selection meetings held in the Chicago area from November through March.
Hoping to major in social work, Herrera is in the sweet spot of a push toward diversity for the nation's largest scholarship program for caddies, which over the 2019-20 academic year boasted a record 1,010 Evans Scholars at 18 universities nationwide. Ninety-five percent of Evans Scholars graduate in four years.
Of the record 285 newly awarded Evans Scholars -- 120 of them from Illinois -- it's estimated that 40% are first-generation college students, 37% are minorities and 30% are female, according to Mike Maher, vice president of Caddies and Scholarship for the Western Golf Association's Evans Scholarship Foundation. Nationally, 2% of caddies are female.
"Promoting diversity within the caddie yards, the Evans Scholars Program and the broader game of golf is a priority for us, and we're working hard to grow these numbers each year," Maher stated in an email to the Daily Herald.
Like Herrera, whose pay from caddying helped with household expenses -- her mother was unemployed when Herrera applied for the scholarship -- these students all have interesting stories.
"I think the Chick Evans Scholarship gives those who are willing to put in work a chance regardless of your situation, and they're only looking at your work ethic and what you have accomplished," said Buffalo Grove graduate Isaac Perez, a three-year caddie at Rolling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights.
Also a first-generation college student, he'll be attending Ohio State.
His parents separated, he lives with his father in Arlington Heights and visits his mother in Wheeling.
Perez always thought himself college material and his accomplishments back it up -- a weighted 4.25 grade-point average, he said, National Honor Society membership and a Bison Advisory Mentor his sophomore through senior years.
The Evans Scholarship is "life-changing," said Perez, who had planned to attend community college until he'd saved enough money through caddying to transfer elsewhere. That's a lot of loops.
"I feel most growth happens when you venture into the unknown," he said. "So I think interactions with people that are not similar to you are where I can a learn lot about different perspectives on life. I think that's also why I joined golf."
Naperville North's Brooklyn Kuhny made no bones about it: "I got into caddying because I wanted this scholarship," she said.
"My mom gave me the idea and I'm kind of like, OK ... But I actually like the job, it's a great way to get to know people," Kuhny said.
"I've learned things such as time management, manners and how to become a better person, ultimately. It really matured me as a person, I would say."
In addition to showing strong work ethic caddying five years at Medinah Country Club, Kuhny impressed the scholarship committee with her scholastics and numerous sports, activities and volunteerism in and out of school.
She'll be attending her "dream college," Indiana University, which financially otherwise would have been out of reach.
"My parents (Dawn and Dave) are both very hard working and they've pushed me to be the person I am. And they've provided me with what I need," Kuhny said.
"But without that scholarship I definitely wouldn't have been able to go to IU."
Local Evans Scholarship recipients
Name High school Sponsoring clubKathryn Costello Hersey Rolling Green
Tyler McMillin Prospect Rolling Green
Isaac Perez Buffalo Grove Rolling Green
Steven Alton Barrington Biltmore
Ricardo Saucedo Fenton River Forest CC
Ethan Lee Stevenson Sunset Ridge
Jack Roberts Crystal Lake S. Crystal Lake CC
Bronson Hultmark Hinsdale S. LaGrange CC
Peter Pierropoulos Downers Grove S. Ruth Lake CC
Anthony Perfetti Notre Dame Ridgemoor
Marco Perfetti Notre Dame Ridgemoor
Regan Toole York Hinsdale Golf Club
Jaime Flores Warren Indian Hill
Jack Hovey Warren Shoreacres
Sujay Nanjannavar Fremd Inverness
Gianna Patenaude Crystal Lake S. Crystal Lake CC
Jack Law St. Viator Kemper Lakes
Andrew Slivka Stevenson Ravinia Green
Cheyenne DeLong Burlington C. Elgin CC
Giovanni De La Torre Leyden River Forest CC
Jasson Rodriguez Valle Leyden River Forest CC
Brooklyn Kuhny Naperville N. Medinah
Nicole Schiller Palatine Inverness
Daniel Diaz Maine South Park Ridge CC
Mairead Dunleavy Maine South Park Ridge CC
Jensen Genyk Maine South Park Ridge CC
Alex DeSimone Lake Park Medinah
Lindsey Garcia Lake Park Medinah
Blake Henkel Lake Park Medinah
Matthew Steiner Lake Park Medinah
Drew Kilcullen Warren Merit Club
Samuel Kremerman Vernon Hills Twin Orchard
Anna Herrera Warren Northmoor CC