Up Close With BRIDGETT RIVEROL (NU '17)
Northwestern Evans Scholar Bridgett Riverol saw a bit of herself in each of the three dozen girls who who attended the WGA Caddie Academy in Evanston this summer.
As one of the program’s counselors, Bridgett spent nearly seven weeks with the girls who came from across the country to caddie at clubs along Chicago’s North Shore with an eye toward earning the Evans Scholarship.
She ferried the girls to their respective clubs, accompanied them on trips to Chicago landmarks such as the world-renowned Shedd Aquarium and provided invaluable counsel as they navigated life on and off the course.
As she grew closer to girls, Bridgett noted a familiar sense of apprehension, fear, confusion and frustration that came with learning the game of golf, its jargon and customs, all the while knowing it could be the key to unlocking a brighter future.
She could certainly relate.
Now a junior studying human communication sciences, Bridgett began caddying at River Forest Country Club after her freshman year in high school. The learning curve was initially steep.
“I would be lying if I said learning the ropes was easy and presented few difficulties,” she said. “The job required I step out of my comfort zone every day and, in the process, I learned how best to communicate with and relate to others, accept criticism and pursue an interest in a game that was foreign to me.”
Bridgett drew on those experiences as she mentored the girls, coaching them through the difficulties a new caddie typically encounters.
The experience was not only enriching for the girls but also for Bridgett, who found herself taken by their willingness to learn and the bonds they formed.
Bridgett remembered with fondness a dinner held one evening for Western Golf Association officials during which the girls expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the Caddie Academy. The night’s program was to feature brief remarks from two girls about their experiences but became something much more meaningful.
“It was meant to be a 30- to 45-minute presentation … but it turned into three hours of every girl in the room sharing their favorite memories, and talking about how the Caddie Academy had personally shaped their lives,” she said. “They acknowledged the hardships and obstacles they encountered living with each other and the discipline they had learned as caddies, but they also emphasized their successes and strengths as a team. Everyone was in tears by the end.
“It was so humbling to have seen the girls bloom into young ladies with responsibilities and appreciation for the incredible opportunity that has been given to them,” she said.
Upon graduating from Northwestern, Bridgett hopes to earn her master’s degree in speech and language pathology.
She said she plans to stay involved with the Evans Scholars Foundation as an Alumna.
“It would be impossible to repay the Evans Scholars Foundation for the education I’ve received at Northwestern, the opportunities it has offered me, and the special relationships I’ve made as a Scholar,” she said. “I cannot imagine my life without the Evans Scholarship.”
Did you know?
A TRAINED MARTIAL ARTIST
Before she picked up a golf bag, Bridgett studied Tae Kwan Do, a Korean martial art with a heavy emphasis on kicking.
“I started Tae Kwon Do when I was 4 years old and continued to practice until high school when I reached the second-degree black belt level,” she said.
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
To help promote cultural diversity in her community, Bridgett, whose family is from Belize, started a club in North Chicago that blended Belizean and American cultures.
“My program catered to 6- to 12-year olds and celebrated the differences between Belizean and American, especially as it applies to holidays, traditions and cuisine,” she said.
Bridgett has an ear for Kriol, the language spoken by nearly half of Belize’s 331,000 people.
“My entire family speaks Kriol,” she said. “I cannot speak it that well, but I understand it fluently.”