Scholar Spotlight: Afonso Gillette

"College is a possibility. No one in my family has accomplished this."


"We were living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment in the worst part of Cincinnati. There were homicides daily, constant police sirens and the neighborhood was riddled with drug dealers. One spring, no one could go outside because there was a huge riot going on for a week and a half. I was ready to get out of that place."

Alfonso Gillette, OSU '15

For 11 years, this was Alfonso Gillette’s life. Now, he is on his way to Ohio State University looking to pursue a career in broadcasting as an Evans Scholar.

Alfonso’s mom always made sure he stayed on the right path. She kept him in school and, when things got too rough by their apartment, made sacrifices to move the family into a safer neighborhood. When Alfonso was a freshman in high school, she found out about a caddying program at Cincinnati’s Maketewah Country Club. Even though he knew nothing about the game of golf, he headed off to caddie training that spring.

"Alfonso had a strong desire to work and refused to fail," said club caddie manager Joseph Healy. Caddying taught him to hustle. "That’s what they like to see — not slacking off; always working hard," Alfonso said.

He became one of the club’s favorite caddies, according to Joe Desch, WGA’s Ohio Evans Scholars Chairman and Maketewah member. As he gained confidence, his caddying abilities — and academics — improved. Upon graduation, Alfonso was a member of the National Honor Society and ranked number two in his class.

Once a shy kid on the course, Alfonso now loves the spotlight. "I gave a speech at my graduation, and I was always the master of ceremonies for high school productions. I love to talk," he says.

"A college education will expose me to precious opportunities that those around me can only dream of," Alfonso wrote in his application essay. "In turn, I will come out a man who has lived on both sides of the spectrum. I’ll have the ability to show those in my community that college is a possibility for them, too. No one in my family has accomplished this. I want that to change with me."

 

-First printed in the Summer 2011 WGA Evans Scholars Magazine