Empowering kids through a lifetime of new challenges and continuous personal growth is at the heart of First Tee. One of our participant opportunities, the Wells Fargo Succeeding Together Contest, shines a light on a few extraordinary participants and their personal journeys to become better students, citizens and golfers in an effort to prepare for life.
These top four winners have proven in their writing and through their actions that leadership is always possible, and if we build a community, it is always possible to succeed together.
Grand Prize Winner: Raymond Jin, First Tee of Greater Trenton
Raymond first became involved with First Tee through his mother’s friend. Nervous and a bit shy, Raymond was naturally reluctant. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
“As I progressed through the program, First Tee completely changed me as a person. Before, I was a shy little boy hiding behind my parents’ back. Now, I’m able to interact and form lasting relationships with people from all walks of life. I now embrace unconventionality and uncertainty and thrive in new and unfamiliar situations. Because of First Tee, I am able to make a difference in the lives of young people and those in my community. I am passionate about working with people and mentoring.”
Involved with First Tee of Greater Trenton for six years, Raymond now serves as a junior coach mentoring young kids in the program. Outside his time with First Tee, he also has a budding career as an amateur musician. Competing as a classically trained violinist, Raymond was a competitor on China’s Got Talent, and finished second in the junior division. He also is a concertmaster and member of the All-State Orchestra. He has had internships with New Jersey Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson is also a Scholastic Gold and Silver Key in photography.
He’s currently a junior in high school and his immediate goals include getting into college majoring in managerial business or financial engineering, with the goal of opening up his own business to serve underserved communities through professional development initiatives. He values the foundations of mentorship provided to him at First Tee of Greater Trenton and the meaning it has brought to his life.
“I now understand the value of discovering talent in unorthodox places. Today, my students are my chief source of inspiration and constant, tireless improvement as a student, athlete, artist, musician, leader, mentor and citizen in the 21st Century. My students’ struggles are my test of strength, and their willingness to learn and ceaseless energy are the only compensation I need for a lifetime of public service.”
Jalyn Robinson, First Tee of Greater Sacramento (First Prize Winner)
Jalyn didn’t start seriously thinking about golf until sixth grade. It was then that she learned about the inviting nature of First Tee.
“My mom and I were drawn to First Tee because you didn’t have to have a history with golf to be part of the program; plus, it wasn’t just about the technicalities of the sport. We participated in fun challenges, games and events. I had the chance to make amazing friendships.”
As Jalyn has progressed through the program, she steadily transitioned to a leader in the program and credits First Tee with giving her the opportunity to create meaningful, personal friendships that have withstood the test of time.
Jalyn dreams of playing collegiate golf, but certainly understands the challenges that can bring. She has learned to embrace those difficult challenges.
“First Tee taught me to embrace failures because they are going to happen. How you choose to deal with that failure is what will truly impact you. First Tee not only taught me how to embrace my failures on the course, but also how to analyze, learn and move on from tough experiences off the course.”
Jalyn also credits her mother with the encouragement that has led her to success.
“She has always given me a listening ear, caring heart and comfortable shoulder to cry on when things are difficult for me to handle. Because of her, my passion to be the change I want to see becomes vivid each day.”
Kayli Lucas, First Tee of Tennessee (First Prize Winner)
Kayli was first introduced to First Tee from a church friend in sixth grade. Before entering First Tee, Kayli was introverted and says she had low self-esteem. As she progressed through the life skills and golf curriculum, she felt her demeanor change.
“I wanted to be adventurous and try new opportunities, but my confidence did not match my ambitions… I had finally found a place to grow and express my interests. The camaraderie among participants and coaches is unparalleled at First Tee. As I began to mature and find myself as a person, I was supported and guided by those around me, and simultaneously, I was able to do the same for others.”
Gaining self-confidence changed Kayli’s life.
“I initially did not pass ‘Par’ after my first time attending the course, but the process of retaking and passing ‘Par’ taught me that a lack of confidence was my only limitation – not the opinion of others. After this pivotal event in my life, I began to flourish and break out of my shell in all aspects. As a student, I embraced my unique qualities and began to excel in not only the classroom, but also in social settings. I began to confidently express myself and develop friendships with everyone I met. On the golf course, my game entered an entirely new level. My newfound confidence and work ethic advanced me to enter the ACE Program at the start of my freshman year of high school.”
Kayli played on the varsity golf team throughout her high school career, leading them to the regional tournament for the first time in the school’s history. She will attend the University of Alabama in the fall, majoring in biology. Though she doesn’t yet know her long-term career goals, Kayli hopes to continue her journey with First Tee by turning to her peers and mentors for counsel when faced with challenging decisions.
Maya Hunter, First Tee of Benton Harbor (First Prize Winner)
Maya began her First Tee journey at a very young age alongside her brother. Their local chapter had recently opened a location in their area. Even though Maya had never played golf before, her mother signed her up for a summer program. That summer program quickly turned into something more as she progressed through the program, falling in love with golf and the life lessons learned through First Tee.
“The core values and everything else I learned positively impacted my life in many ways. Many of the lessons were easy to take into everyday life, like a simple confident handshake or earning and giving the respect we all deserve.”
Maya recalls a time in her golf career where honesty was more important than winning.
“Honesty is a true judge of character. If I can keep a reputation of honesty on the course and in life, which is quite hard sometimes, I believe I will be a step ahead of everyone at my level. I may not be physically better, but I am willing to make a hard decision to stay true to my moral code of honesty.”
Maya will be entering her senior year of high school this fall. She hopes to win regionals and a state title and earn a full scholarship through a caddy program to a top university.
These four winners will attend the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship. As the Grand Prize Winner, Raymond will experience the thrill of playing golf with the PGA TOUR professional of his choice during the tournament’s pro-am.
Thank you, Wells Fargo for your longstanding partnership and support of First Tee. Wells Fargo has renewed their commitment for the next five years to support First Tee’s youth development program.
Thank you to all applicants, and congratulations to all finalists!