Las Vegas residents Tom Fitzgerald and Jack Todd know first-hand how receiving a Chick Evans Scholarship can change a life. Now, they have helped graduating seniors and fellow Southern Nevadans Belen Flores, Peighton Hazel, Vaea Tangitau and Dean Uata earn these invaluable, full-ride scholarships valued in total at more than $450,000. –By Brian Hurlburt, Las Vegas Golf Insider.
These four “Evans Scholars” are members of the Caddie Academy, a special summer program run by the Western Golf Association that provides caddie opportunities to under-resourced high school students. Not only is there the scholarship opportunity, but as caddies in the program, the students had the chance to caddie each day, earn money, meet role models and learn valuable life lessons on the golf course. After completing three summers, the participants were eligible to apply for the Evans Scholarship.
“The first thing I think about the Evans Scholarship is the amount of money donated generously by thousands of donors,” Tangitau says. “This money will help my family and I immensely. Throughout the years, I have seen my mom work multiple jobs at a time and make various sacrifices just for the hope that my siblings and I would have a better future. And with this scholarship, I am making my mom truly happy and it fills my heart with great joy to be able to say that.”
The four Las Vegas caddie/students spent their high school summers as caddies in the Chicago area. Flores and Hazel were at Conway Farms Golf Club while Tangitau and Uato were at the Old Elm Club. Each caddie has a unique story that reflects the scholarship’s four selection criteria: a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character.
“The first thing that comes to my mind about my experience caddying is all of the hard work that I put in,” Tangitau says. “Caddying can be physically draining at times, but it is way more than physical labor. Through caddying, I have been able to make connections with these golfers and have also been able to gain valuable insight into what life looks like during and after college. Simple life lessons like ‘work hard’ have been taught to me through caddying. It was a great, enjoyable experience to be able to caddy.”
It fills the hearts of Fitzgerald and Todd to see the looks on the faces of the families and recipients. It flashes them back decades to their own emotions.
“I can never, never, never payback to the Evans Scholarship Foundation what I received nearly six decades ago, but, I attempt to do so with my Time, my Talent, and my Treasury in those intervening decades,” Fitzgerald says. “I am elated that four kids won this year, but wait until next year when you have to interview eight more great kids. We are on a roll in Las Vegas regarding the Caddie Academy and identifying superior applicants and selections.
In the fall 2022, the four head to college. Hazel and Uata are off to Northwestern. Tangitau will attend the Univ. of Washington and Flores will attend Univ. of Oregon. The Evans Scholarship is valued at more than $120,000 over four years. Three of the four recipients are from Faith Lutheran High while Flores attended the College of Southern Nevada High School program.
Todd and Fitzgerald are the leaders of the Evans Scholar Alumni Group of Las Vegas and share the same vision and passion to “pay it forward.” The two credited a caring Faith Lutheran High counselor for supporting the program.
“These are excellent students from Faith Lutheran High, beyond any doubt, and I am elated to be associated with such fine kids from a fine institution, guided to Caddie Academy by Guidance Counselor Lynn Ann Lescinski,” says Fitzgerald, a retired CPA who graduated in 1973 from Univ. of Indiana as an Evans Scholar and debt free.
The positive outcomes and far-reaching benefits from the scholarships is very evident.
“The impact the Evans Scholarship makes on recipients is life-changing because this scholarship allows students who may not have other means to attend top-rated institutions without concern for tuition and housing,” Lescenski says. “Paying college tuition is challenging enough, but housing, too? That’s unheard of to have that included. Receiving the Evans Scholarship is not only life-changing for the student but it has far-reaching implications for the students’ families, who no longer have the burden of obtaining loans or dipping into retirement, if any, to help pay for college. And for both the students and their families, it provides hope; it provides hope and the representation that someone believes in their potential.
“The three students who received the Evans Scholarship from Faith Lutheran this year are amazing kids. They have not only worked hard academically, characterized by the schools they’ve been accepted to and chosen to attend, but they genuinely desire to make a difference for their families by attending college. They will meet people and be exposed to opportunities that might not have been available otherwise. These three students illustrate huge examples of success for younger siblings, which can only positively impact their families. It has been such a privilege to watch these three mature from awkward, shy freshmen to confident, self-assured, young adults of integrity with tremendous work ethic. I feel so blessed to have worked with them.”
Currently, a record 1,070 caddies are enrolled at 21 universities across the nation as Evans Scholars, and more than 11,500 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the program was founded by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr. The Western Golf Association, headquartered in Glenview, Illinois, has supported the Chick Evans Scholarship Program through the Evans Scholars Foundation since 1930. Known as one of golf’s favorite charities, it is the nation’s largest scholarship program for caddies. In all, more than $435 million in scholarship funds has been awarded.
“These young men and women are part of an exceptional incoming class of New Scholars from around the nation,” said WGA Chairman Joe Desch. “They represent what the Evans Scholars Program has been about since 1930.”
To learn more about the WGA and ESF, visit www.wgaesf.org.
This is the first of two articles featuring the news about these scholars as they embark on their college careers.
|Belen Flores||Conway Farms Golf Club||College of Southern Nevada HS||Finalized May 1|
|Peighton Hazel||Conway Farms Golf Club||Faith Lutheran HS||Northwestern University|
|Vaea Tangitau||Old Elm Club||Faith Lutheran HS||University of Washington|
|Dean Uata||Old Elm Club||Faith Lutheran HS||Northwestern University|
Scholarship funds come mostly from contributions by nearly 35,000 supporters across the country, who are members of the Evans Scholars Par Club program. Evans Scholars Alumni donate more than $17 million annually, and all proceeds from the BMW Championship, the penultimate PGA TOUR Playoff event in the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup competition, are donated to the Evans Scholars Foundation. In 2022, the BMW Championship will be held at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, from Aug. 16-21.