Nativity alumna Christina Abarca (NPA ’12) spent seven weeks this past summer learning the art and etiquette of caddying at Onwenstia Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, as one of only a handful of applicants nationally to earn a coveted scholarship spot for the Western Golf Association’s (WGA) Caddie Academy. Christina was one of only three scholars from the state of California to earn a spot this year.
The WGA’s primary charity is the Evans Scholars Foundation (ESF), which sponsors the summer caddie academy. The WGA is one of the most prestigious and oldest golf association sponsors in the United States, providing financial subsidies through ESF for more than 200 need-based tuition and housing scholarships each year for more than 800 recipients at 19 U.S. colleges and universities.
“I had a blast, and I am so grateful to the WGA and the Evans Scholars Foundation for having chosen me for the Caddie Academy,” says Christina, who begins her sophomore year this fall at Rosary High School in Fullerton, California, through the Boys H.O.P.E./Girls H.O.P.E. (BHGH) residential scholarship program.
Like BHGH, the WGA selects applicants for the Caddie Academy (and for its Evans Scholars college scholarships) based on academic achievement, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated financial need. Last year, during her freshman year at Rosary, Christina was invited to apply to attend WGA’s Caddie Academy.
“I will be doing this for three years, every summer,” says Christina, who will be returning next year to Northwestern University as a second-year caddy scholar. “I will continue to work hard in school and in the summers as a caddy to earn a full college scholarship,” she adds. “I want to study engineering or another science-related field in college…hopefully at Northwestern.”
When applying to college in their senior year of high school, applicants from California can apply through the WGA’s Evans Foundation charity for tuition and housing scholarships for a number of selective universities, among them Northwestern University, University of Notre Dame, Miami University (Oxford, OH), and the University of Colorado (Boulder).
“Having spent this past summer at Northwestern,” Christina says, “makes me think I’d really like it as a college, too.”
Scholars who attend the WGA Caddie Academy spend seven weeks of their summer learning the ins and outs of caddying at a number of different golf and country clubs on Chicago’s North Shore. Now in its second year, the Caddie Academy prepares young women who would not otherwise have an opportunity to do so, to “experience the benefits of caddying and to learn life lessons from being around successful adults,” the Caddie Academy web page explains.
“Christina did such a great job this past year,” says Ms. Brandi Becker, the program director for BHGH of Southern California. “We’re all so proud of her…she called me at one point this summer to say that she had been praised for being such a good role model for other girls in the (Caddie Academy) program. Nativity did so much to prepare her for these kinds of opportunities and challenges.”
After her junior year, and after her third summer as a WGA Caddie Academy scholar, Christina will be eligible to apply for a college tuition and housing scholarship through the Evans Scholars Foundation.
“A college education to study science is my dream and my goal,” says Christina. “The Evans program is helping me realize my dream.”
The WGF/ESF program boasts some pretty impressive numbers: more than 90% of the student scholars who enroll as ESF students graduate from college. To date, since its founding by legendary golfer Chick Evans in 1930, the program has supported close to 10,000 students in college, and ESF alumni have themselves contributed more than 60 million dollars to help support future ESF students.
The program’s focus on teaching a passion for the sport of golf and a passion for learning had an immediate impact on Christina. “It’s teaching me to love the game of golf,” she says. “I had never even been to a golf course before this summer except when attending the Nativity tournament each year to greet the golfers…this (the game of golf) is something I’m learning to appreciate even more.”
We are grateful to the WGA, the Evans Scholars Foundation, to BHGH of Southern California, and to Rosary High School for their ongoing support of Christina’s pursuit of her college dream. And of course we are very proud of Christina and wish her success this year at Rosary and next summer as an Evans caddie!
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