2014 Winter Outing Presidents Speeches

Highlights from the speeches of the outgoing presidents from the 14 Scholarship Chapters. Speeches touched on major accomplishments and challenges from the past year at the Feb. 7 Winter Meeting at Quarles & Brady LLP in Chicago.

Colorado: Grant Cassell

For the Colorado executive board, our largest goals of the year were to maintain time honored traditions, and to expand upon these traditions. A positive attitude was the most solid foundation our leadership stood upon from the beginning, most clearly evidenced by the increasingly positive attitude across the chapter as a whole.

A major accomplishment was our update of the chapter constitution and bylaws to include current language and terminology consistent with the national code and creed, a feat not accomplished in the Colorado Scholarship House for over 10 years.

Last year, under direction of the vice president of finance, we continued the tradition of issuing one of the lowest house bills in the nation, while increasing the transparency for punitive fines. Our philanthropic events resulted in 146 pounds of baby food collected, and over 150 donated units of blood through two blood drives. Additionally, to accommodate for a large number of New Scholars within the class of 2018, the executive board adopted a mentor program with the intent to closely monitor academic and social progress on a one-to-three level, versus a one-to-seventeen level normally undertaken by the vice president of New Scholars.

One year ago, directly after elections, one challenge for the new executive board was immediately clear: six sophomores were now at the helm. We overcame several challenges associated with this not only by leaning on earlier, personal leadership experience, but also by leaning on each other for constructive support. Additionally, much credit rests with the previous executive board for helping tremendously with continuity of leadership.

Finally, one crucial piece of advice I must share with you this morning is this: In the words of my high school principal, we were told that “the main thing was to keep the main thing the main thing,” the “main thing” being academics, of course. The repetitiveness of the phrase and the message it carries make it the best advice I’ve ever received, and my own version is this: “You are sitting here today because you are who you are.” You won your election not solely due to the content of your speech, but from the content of your character. Remember that you are capable of making the most profound impact by remaining true to your fellow Scholars and to yourself.

Illinois: Alex Wesolowski (2015 President)

Like any executive board, our first few weeks as leaders of the Illinois Evans Scholars were filled with plenty of challenges. However, we worked hard as a group to stay well connected and on the same page. Communication between members and our chapter advisors was crucial, and I was proud of the successful events our team put together, as well as the way we handled house maintenance and construction.

Over the summer, our house underwent a large-scale landscaping project, and additionally we now have a newly furnished laundry room that every Scholar enjoys.

This year I was most proud of the house philanthropy that continues to be a major part of the Illinois Evans Scholars. Thanks to our philanthropy chair, weekly volunteering at a local soup kitchen and clothing shelter became a part of many Scholars’ lives, and several events helped us grow closer with the local community. Scholars participated in local Easter egg hunts and the massive “Trunk or Treat” event at a local school in Urbana. These events both help underprivileged children stay safe and fed. I was continually impressed by how generous and hard-working our members were within the community this past year.

To the executive boards and chapter presidents of 2015: Good luck. Work together, and think of yourselves as the Scholars who the WGA is entrusting with improving your house. You are not on e-board to simply maintain the status quo of your chapter’s environment, but to nurture and improve the way your house is run, and the lives of the Scholars within it. Think of the chapter before yourselves, and enjoy your time as Evans Scholars leaders. Reach out to any and all Alumni and get involved in the great network that the WGA works hard to build. Congratulations on your new positions!

Indiana: Connor Duffy

Hello and welcome everyone to the 2015 Winter Outing. A big thank you to all the WGA staff who put on this wonderful event and a special thanks to Quarles & Brady for hosting us again this year. I will begin with a brief introduction. My name is Connor Duffy; I am a senior studying accounting and finance at Indiana and recently finished my term as the 2014 chapter president. The Indiana Evans Scholars have a lot to be proud of. The IU Scholars have had a great deal of success for themselves, each other and our community.

Our chapter has grown a lot closer to each other this year by developing a new direction of culture. The 2014 executive board came into a house that faced multiple issues due to communication and culture. While we had plans on what tangible amendments we wanted to make to our house, we realized that addressing the culture was just as important of an issue. We eventually were able to bring everybody closer together through new event ideas and more transparent communication.

Addressing the 2015 executive boards: you are about to embark on your densest year of learning in your life. On top of classes getting even more challenging, you will learn an immense amount about what kind of person you are, how you lead and how you interact with others. A piece of advice for you is to take each challenge and success as a learning process. You will grow together as an executive board and be able to accomplish more. In the long run, you will be a more mature and self-aware individual. On top of that, your attitude will be contagious to those who surround you.

I am incredibly proud to call myself an Indiana University Evans Scholar and it was a true honor of mine to serve as president and New Scholar educator. While I would gladly return to school for another year, my time as an active Scholar is nearing an end. It will be hard for my classmates and me to leave, but we all feel confident in what the future Scholars can do to build on our success. Thank you to everyone in this room who will continue the success of what started as one golfer’s idea, and has grown to empower thousands of caddies’ dreams. Thank you.

Marquette: Kelly McInerney

This past year the Marquette chapter has continued to make forward strides while maintaining traditions we hold dear. One of our house traditions is hosting our annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser. After setting our goal at $15,000, we surpassed it and raised over $22,000! Since this tradition started in 2010, we have raised over $78,000 to fund childhood cancer research. We had great support from Alumni, especially Devlin Gray, who started the tradition at the Marquette Scholarship House. Having WGA representatives show up the day of was a great treat, as well. I’m hoping this year some of them will shave their heads.

Continuing on with community service, we also had full chapter participation in Briggs and Al’s Run and Walk to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. It has been an amazing experience to see our chapter participate so fully and engage so willingly in these charity and fundraising events. It is always inspiring when a group of 60+ people get together to make a difference.

One of the biggest challenges the Marquette chapter faced this year was mental health. To help with this, our executive board had Question, Persuade, Refer, or QPR, training. This training focuses on suicide prevention and recognizing signs of depression, in addition to learning where to refer people, how to discuss and approach these topics, and most importantly, how to offer hope.

Before I close, I would like to leave you all with some advice: You have all been chosen by your peers to lead and represent your house. Serve with the mindset that you are leading a house full of leaders. Help your housemates realize their potential, and they will help support you and lead by example. This will be one of the most rewarding experiences in your time as an Evans Scholar. I wish you all the best in your term. Thank you.

Miami: Tim Mersch

Congratulations to the new executive boards. Serving as president of the Miami Evans Scholars Chapter was one of the most enlightening experiences I have ever had. This past fall the Miami Evans Scholars chapter celebrated its 40th anniversary. During the celebration, we hosted more than 200 program supporters and Western Golf Association staff to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new Miami Scholarship House that will open in 2016.

The past school year was full of fundraisers and events. Miami Evans Scholars participated in our annual philanthropy events – a pancake breakfast and food drive to benefit the Oxford Choice Food Pantry. In addition to coming together as a chapter to support outside causes, our entire chapter participated in a stress-management conference from the university’s student health services.

To the 2015 e-boards: You are about to embark on an exciting, and more importantly, responsibility-laden school year. You have been chosen by your peers to represent them. They look to you to lead them and make decisions in their best interest. Think about what actions will best represent your chapter as a whole. Don’t be afraid to keep in close contact with past e-board members for advice, or reach out to WGA staff for help.

Every e-board experiences ups and downs. No matter what challenges you are faced with, always keep in mind that this is the best scholarship in the world. With a little communication and a lot of hard work, you can accomplish anything. Do it for Chick.

Michigan: David Pawlak

2014 proved to be another memorable and exciting year for the Evans Scholar Chapter at the University of Michigan. We had all New Scholars complete their activation term and boasted one of the best GPAs of the past several years for our chapter.

Every executive board experiences setbacks with their successes, and unfortunately we experienced a house flood in November that resulted in us to having to relocate for about a week while restoration procedures took place. It was during this time that I saw the true nature of the Michigan Evans Scholars shine through. Seeing all Scholars come together to help one another, whether it was driving each other to class, moving belongings out of the House or just generally support each other, truly showed me that we are an amazing family and support system for each other.

Over the past two years I served as administrative vice president and president of the Michigan chapter, as well as the vice president of communication on National Committee. These were some of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my life, and the highlight of my college experience. To be able to lead and aid my closest friends is something I truly enjoyed and hope to continue to do in any way I can.

To the new executive board members coming in this term, I urge all of you to stake a serious claim in the success of your Scholarship House because you can, and should make a difference. It's been a pleasure working with all the other executive board members, WGA officials and all others I've met through this amazing program. Thank you for continuing to make Chick's dream a reality.

Michigan State: Michael Zuke

I’d like to start off by congratulating all of the new executive boards; it is a great honor to be elected by your peers to serve as a leader.

Over the past year I had the privilege of leading the Michigan State Evans Scholarship House as chapter president. Being put in a position of responsibility and empowerment has been extremely influential in my personal and professional growth. I am so proud of what the MSU Evans Scholars have accomplished over the past year. Our Scholars are doing a number of amazing things: as a house, we accomplished a GPA of 3.3 in the spring term and 3.22 in the fall. The hard work of our members has proven to be successful. MSU Scholars have traveled to different parts of the globe to take their studies abroad in places like Spain and Turkey. Our future doctors and surgeons have interned with the University of Michigan health system. Our engineers and business students have interned and accepted full-time offers with Fortune 500 companies like Ford and Dow Chemical. I am so excited to see what the future holds for our Scholars. We are ambitious, and support our fellow Scholars as they enter the corporate world, medical school, law school and numerous graduate programs.

I am so thankful to have served my chapter with an exceptional executive board that worked together in order to collectively benefit all MSU Scholars. We were effectively able to govern the house in a diplomatic fashion, planning and scheduling a number of events to give back to our community, maintaining order to promote group living and providing resources for our Scholars to capitalize on opportunities.

Everyone in this room should be very proud of being elected to serve on your respective executive boards. You will reach new successes, and you will find yourselves challenged with certain problems over the course of your term. You will find that accepting your responsibility as leaders will have a positive effect on you individually. In my experience, accepting the faith my constituents placed with me had a very powerful influence in forging me into the man I am today. I encourage you to always probe the interests of your chapter members and work endlessly to serve them the best you can. Over the next year, you all discover how gratifying it is to become a leader, gain perspective and do your absolute best to help others achieve new heights.

Lastly, I would like to express great thanks to the Western Golf Association. Being an Evans Scholar has done more for me than words can describe. In my time as a Michigan State University student and Evans Scholar, I have grown more than I ever imagined I would. I have had the privilege of living with a set of truly remarkable individuals, creating friendships that will last for the duration of my lifetime. As I prepare to leave, I will cherish the great memories I’ve made, and I look forward being a part of this organization indefinitely.

To the newly elected executive boards: I wish you nothing but greatness throughout the next year and in your endeavors.

Minnesota: Charlie Bulger (2015 President)

Our most impressive chapter achievement was greater involvement on campus and in the community. The executive board partnered with the house philanthropy chairs to contact and execute a multitude of events including blood drives, Feed My Starving Children, local business spring and fall cleaning, and on-campus facility maintenance. The Minnesota Evans Scholars branded themselves in the community as a positive group of hardworking individuals.

Our proudest executive board accomplishment was increasing transparent communication for ideas, advice and help. Working collectively, each position utilized board members for all respective position responsibilities. The goal was to enable multiple viewpoints on each situation and the success was recognition from the chapter. We bonded and succeeded as one collective unit, and challenged each other to improve our positions.

As an executive board member, I witnessed very successful moments, in addition to some moments of failure. Your time as executive board members is monumental in that you will learn how to lead your chapters, but also develop life skills vital to academic and professional triumph. Challenge your fellow executive board members, but most importantly, help and thank them for their efforts.

I have been truly blessed and honored to be involved with amazing individuals and a fantastic organization. In particular, I would like to thank Quarles & Brady for hosting us today, and additionally Mr. Harrison, Mr. Shell, Mr. Maher, Mrs. Havekost, and everyone at the WGA for their outstanding efforts with the Chick Evans Scholarship.

Missouri: Nick Eastwood

It is my honor to speak on behalf of the Missouri Evans Scholarship House. This past year we faced a number of challenges, and enjoyed many achievements. The greatest challenge our executive board faced was congestion, with the largest number of Scholars in the history of the Missouri Scholarship House. It is wonderful that so many people were awarded this opportunity, but it also comes with hardships. The tight living conditions and varying personalities proved difficult for our chapter, but each Scholar stepped up and did their part to ensure the growth and well-being of every other person through group living. I could not be more proud of them.

The positive side of tight living conditions is the strong bond that is forged. We pushed one another both academically and philanthropically. As a house, we averaged 20 philanthropy hours per Scholar for each semester, benefitting over 30 organizations, and kept the average GPA above 3.2. Socially, I can say that our chapter is more of a family than ever before. Scholars are pushing one another to take leadership roles outside of the house including, but not limited to, Math Club president, leaders of multiple service organizations and National Mascot Champion.

I will offer some advice for the upcoming year. As an e-board member, as with any leadership position, you will make sacrifices for the house and have a level of dedication that will seem to go unnoticed. This happens because you were elected to your position by those who know your character. When your hard work goes unnoticed, take this as a compliment, because these people naturally expect you to go above and beyond. That respect is your reward for a job well done. I am sure that Mr. Harrison, Mr. Maher, Mr. Shell, Ms. Havekost and many others at the WGA are quite familiar with this feeling. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your hard work on behalf of the Evans Scholars. It never goes unnoticed. Thank you.

Northern Illinois: Dillon Domke

It is an honor to stand before you on behalf of the Evans Scholarship and Northern Illinois University. Over the past year the NIU Evans Scholars have increased our outreach within the community by completing more community service than ever before. We always strive to impact those around us in a positive way by giving back. As Evans Scholars we understand how much of an impact we have on those around us. We have received so much through this Scholarship, and we always strive to pay it forward.

Besides touching our surrounding community, the NIU Evans Scholars made it a priority to collaborate together for more chapter events. This enabled us to grow together and become a more tight-knit community. We live together and study together, but just as importantly, we support each other too.

On top of many successes, we also faced some challenges. One of our toughest challenges was with the physical infrastructure of our Scholarship House. Our administrative vice president handled the situation in an exemplary fashion.

In addition to strong Scholar leaders, this past year the NIU Scholars welcomed a new Scholarship House manager to help things run smoothly.

Over the course of the year our e-board worked toward a collective goal of being proactive. As we attempted to be proactive as opposed to reactive, we were able to settle many questions before they became problems.

Northwestern: Tyler Blaz

Good morning WGA staff, faculty advisors, new executive boards and outgoing presidents. I find it very worthwhile and rewarding when all the chapters have the opportunity to meet and collaborate, and I am honored to be given the chance to speak before you today. In my experience as an Evans Scholar at Northwestern and as president, I’m now convinced that taking an influential role in your chapter’s executive board is one of the most effective ways of displaying your gratitude for the Evans Scholarship. You now have the ability to shape the future of your Scholarship House and affect the lives of your fellow Scholars. It is an enormous responsibility that comes with many challenges, challenges that will test your resolve and force you to make moral, just decisions. You wouldn’t be in these positions if your classmates didn’t have faith in you, faith founded in friendship and group living.

In regards to this past year, I am very proud of what the Northwestern Evans Scholars have been able to accomplish individually and as a chapter, whether it involved academics, philanthropy or other extracurricular activities. Our annual mini-golf philanthropy raised approximately $2,000 to benefit the Autism Society of Illinois, a charity we have proudly supported for the past several years. I’m also pleased to announce this year’s New Scholar class has achieved the highest average GPA in the Northwestern chapter’s recent history. Additionally, almost all of our Scholars are committed to various campus organizations ranging from NU solar car, Camp Kesem, student production groups, Dance Marathon, fashion and satire publications and various engineering clubs.

Speaking for this previous year’s e-board, I’m confident that one of our proudest accomplishments was the development of a new, more welcoming house culture. We made it a priority for all of 2014. In addition to improving relationships with all of the current classes, we made every effort to welcome the New Scholars into the house with genuine sincerity. Personally, I wanted to make sure the New Scholars felt comfortable approaching anyone in the house, especially the seniors. Because of our e-board’s efforts, I believe we changed the house culture for the better, something I hope this next year’s e-board will develop and improve upon.

The biggest challenges presented to our e-board involved cases of individual Scholars. Whether they were disputes between individuals, or controversy with the university, our e-board felt most tested when we needed to confront Scholars about their behavior and come to effective resolutions. In situations such as these, it is important to remember that everyone is capable of mistakes, even those elected to e-board. Giving Scholars a chance to change their behavior and improve themselves has been instrumental in allowing us to foster a conducive house atmosphere.

Finally, I would like to advise everyone here to listen carefully to what these presidents have to say. Each president has encountered different problems and learned so much while they have been in office. One parting piece of advice from me: Never lose sight of what it means to represent the Evans Scholarship. Always act in the best interest of the Scholars and don’t be afraid to make the unpopular, difficult decisions. Trust in each other and when you are unsure about something, always ask your e-board. You are there for each other, the only way you are going to get things done is by getting things done together.

Ohio State: Michael Ricke

Over the past year the Ohio State Evans Scholars have worked hard to not just take care of each other and our Scholarship House, but really improve upon it. We pooled our time and talent to upgrade the internet, procure new washers and dryers and purchase new furniture for the basement.

In addition to our executive board, this year we had two new Resident Advisors to look after us and help around the house.

My advice to the new e-boards: stick together. If you present a unified front you will achieve more. Teamwork is the best way to go about running your Scholarship Houses. Throughout your term remember to stay true to yourself and treat each Scholar equally and fairly. You may be addressed with some stressful or challenging situations, but don’t back down. As a leader you cannot be best friends with everyone, but by handling each circumstance objectively, with your utmost attention and respect, you will gain the respect of your chapter as a whole.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent the Ohio State Evans Scholars chapter. My years as an Evans Scholar have been incredible. I have made lifelong friends and gained a first-rate education at a top university. Neither of these things, both of which are very important elements in my life, would have been possible without the Evans Scholarship. I am forever grateful.

Purdue: Stephen Macenas (Vice President, Finance)

2014 was another incredible year for the Purdue Evans Scholars. This year’s New Scholars impressed many with a cumulative 3.13 GPA; pretty remarkable with a class full of astronautical, biochemical, aeronautical and mechanical engineers. Their academic achievement helped our chapter’s cumulative GPA rank number one among fraternities and sororities again this year.

Purdue Scholars put our hands together to create a homemade, 22-hole mini golf course as a major philanthropy this year. The course included a fully functional waterfall with a fish pond, a challenging windmill and multileveled platforms and ramps.

The building didn’t stop there! We also built a massive two-story, three-leveled “Scholar Bench” that fits roughly 15 people.

In 2014, we implemented a couple of new programs to bring togetherness to our Scholars and Alumni. Each week a Scholar is honored the “Golden Boiler Award” to celebrate their recent accomplishments for that week.

To help keep connections strong with our recent Alumni, we have deepened our Scholar 2 Scholar Program. This program gives Scholars an opportunity to connect individually with an Alumni mentor. This connection gives the Scholar someone who they can turn to for advice about school, the Evans Program, and post-graduation plans.

In other philanthropies, our chapter helped raised $1,200 through the Golfers4Caddies program by caddying. This program is helping our local courses start up their caddie programs and raise awareness about the Evans Scholarship.

Not only are our Scholars mentally strong, but physically fit as well! Purdue Scholars were the intramural golf and sand volleyball champions.

To the new 2015 executive boards: Remember your house is your family and your home. You are the six heads of the house. If you need help with something, don’t hesitate to ask your fellow e-board members. Remember that you were elected to your position because your fellow Scholars believe in you. You won’t always be able to make everyone happy, but always do your best to try.

I’d wish you good luck, but you don’t need it. I know you’ll do great in 2015.

Wisconsin: Brady Cassidy

2014 was a phenomenal year for the Wisconsin Evans Scholars. It started off with a second consecutive inter-chapter basketball tournament first place finish for our men’s team, and second place finish for our women’s team. Our chapter also achieved the highest collective GPA for the 2013-14 academic school year, bringing the James E. Moore trophy back to the Wisconsin house for the first time in 27 years. In addition to this athletic and academic success, we had an outstanding year with respect to our philanthropy events: our polar plunge team raised $2,500 for charity; our community service committee hosted two blood drives, through which we managed to get over 100 people donate blood; and our biggest charity event of the year, “Thon,” raised about $4,700, which was distributed to local philanthropic organizations and charitable groups.

Besides these achievements, our executive board had a number of accomplishments from this past year. We switched security contractors, which will save our house over $1,200 per year. We upgraded our desktop computers, purchased a new printer, quadrupled our house’s Wi-Fi speeds at no extra cost, upgraded our house’s vacuum cleaners, bought a new projector for our basement, and upgraded our key fob access system. It was a busy year to say the least.

Despite these successes we had some rough patches as well, just like every executive board will have to endure. Perhaps our biggest struggle was our decision to re-implement the seniority system as it is described in our house’s constitution. Previous executive boards had grown lackadaisical in deciding which Scholars were eligible for parking spots and single rooms, which was something we decided to fix. Even though it took several weeks, everyone eventually saw that this change was the best, and most fair way to determine seniority standings within our house.

This leads me to some words of advice: clear, effective communication between your executive board and your Scholars can prevent many problems from ever occurring at all. The biggest thing I learned as president was that face-to-face conversations are the best way to resolve conflict: they limit miscommunication and eliminate misinterpretation that could otherwise occur if the conflict was attempted to be resolved via email, Facebook or some other mode of communication. I encourage each and every one of you to make every effort in communicating as effectively as possible as you perform your executive board duties: it will go a long way in making your time as an officer an enjoyable one.