In 2012, the WGA launched The Caddie Academy, providing a group of young women the opportunity to work at country clubs on Chicago's North Shore. In 2013, the Academy reunited, with its original group of girls, plus a new class – including three from California. For seven weeks, the 22 girls caddied daily at one of five clubs on the North Shore, while living in the Northwestern Evans Scholarship House in Evanston, Ill. The Academy allows the girls – who wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to work at a golf course – a chance to experience the benefits of caddying, from learning life lessons to being around successful adults. One day, they will even become applicants for the Evans Scholarship.
This story first appeared in the Summer 2013 WGA Evans Scholars Magazine. View the original story.
Last year, Shalonda Jones, 16, “had the best summer of my life.” She worked at Westmoreland Country Club and fell in love with the job that taught her about life in the real world and dealing with success and challenge. “Having the honor to be a part of this program has changed my life completely,” she says. “It has given me confidence and made me a stronger and better person.”
A junior in high school, Shalonda returned in 2013 for her second year in the WGA’s Caddie Academy. She loves living with a group of girls, and they often lean on each other for support. “You talk with them about how your rounds have gone,” she says. “We’re all going through the same thing. You never know what you’re going to get out there. You just gotta go out with a smile on your face.”
Through her participation in the Caddie Academy, Shalonda hopes to one day apply for the Evans Scholarship. She’s always known how important college is, and “it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t go,” she says. “How I would pay, now that was a different story.”
If she earns the Evans Scholarship one day, she can already imagine the feeling. “If I get it, wow,” she says. “I will probably cry, I won’t even lie.” As the youngest of seven children, she would be the first in her family to attend college. “I want to be a doctor. I’ve always wanted to give back and help others,” she says. “Getting the scholarship would help make my dreams come true. That’s why I’m out here every day on the golf course.”