First Tee Scholars Inspire Us to Reach for Our Dreams
Now, more than ever, change surrounds us. From the way we attend school to shopping for groceries, our way of life has changed in the last few months. But that was only just the beginning. Recent events have led to an outpouring of protests and advocacy demanding change – change for equality and an end to social injustice for the black community.
While change can sometimes be hard, it’s our youth who inspires us. They’re resilient and adaptable as they reach for their dreams and work towards creating a better world.
Today, we announced nine First Tee alumni who were selected for the First Tee College Scholarship Program. This diverse group of young leaders were selected from an impressive applicant pool based on academics and community service. The Scholars include aspiring doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs, several of whom will be attending elite universities like Harvard, Yale and Duke, among others. We know they are the change-makers that this world needs.
Throughout the College Scholarship Program, the Scholars will receive support and mentoring to encourage continuous personal growth as they set out to accomplish their dreams and make a difference in the world.
President George W. Bush Surprises the Scholars
The seven high school graduates received the news on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive with a surprise personal congratulatory message from President George W. Bush, Honorary Chair of First Tee.
“Your hard work has paid off,” said President George W. Bush. “The coming years will bring new learning, new friendships, new challenges and new opportunities. Remembering the values you have learned through the First Tee will help you for the years to come. Laura and I join your family and friends and recognize you on this special occasion, and we send our best wishes.”
Meet the Scholars
First Tee – Coastal CarolinasEast Carolina University
Luke has been an active member at his chapter since he was four years old, a grand total of 14 years. In that time, he has grown with the chapter into a leader on and off the course. He has founded a special needs golf program with his twin brother called Buddy Tee.
He is an Ace-certified participant and Eagle Scout, and will attend East Carolina University, majoring in Public Health with his concentration in Pre-Health Professions.
He is an East Carolina Scholar, a merit-based scholarship program offered to the University’s top incoming freshmen students.
When he is not spending time in the classroom, Luke enjoys fishing with his brother and golf and was a participant in the 2019 PURE Insurance Championship.
“When I first started at First Tee fourteen years ago, I could have never imagined the opportunities available to me to contribute to my community. The key learnings from First Tee have served as pillars for my moral character and are what I credit my success as a student, athlete and citizen. Because of the First Tee I feel obliged to give to this world more than I ever expect to receive from it.”Blake Brantley
First Tee – Triad
Blake, who has been a participant at his chapter for eight years, will continue to pursue golf at Yale while majoring in Economics and Pre-Law.
He earned Ace certification, the highest level in the program, and volunteers as a coach and mentor to the participants of the chapter in the summer.
He was the captain and MVP of his high school’s varsity golf team and served as the captain of the Academic Team.
He credits First Tee with inspiring him to give back to members of his community. He co-founded a charity called Golf For Life in which he a ran a fundraiser to collect equipment and monetary donations for scholarships for the First Tee of the Triad participants raising $50,000 to date.
“Without First Tee’s values that set the standard for my personal par of excellence, I would have never been able to take on these responsibilities and gained the confidence and leadership experience to execute my plan.”Jessica Jiao
First Tee – Metropolitan New YorkGeorgetown University
Jessica has been a member of the First Tee of Metropolitan New York for more than eight years and has taught golf in the City Parks Foundation over the last two years.
An Ace participant and first-generation college student, Jessica will attend Georgetown University with a focus in Business Administration and Social Justice/Responsibility.
Jessica has played golf since the age of nine and earned several awards including: National Science Honors Society, Honor Roll, First Tee A/B Honor Roll, and AP Scholar with Distinction.
Jessica has a passion for philanthropy. She aspires to help children and has recently started a non-profit organization, The Jessica Jiao Children’s Foundation.
“Growing up in the First Tee program made me aware of one large philosophy the First Tee and I have, and strive to follow; helping children. The First Tee found me at the mere age of nine, only a year into playing golf and still not able to hold my finish with confidence. I was taken under the First Tee’s wing and nurtured to become a stronger golfer and person.”
First Tee – Tri-Valley
Ricky has been a member of the First Tee of Tri-Valley since 2017. An Ace participant, he volunteers as a coach and mentor to the youth participants at his chapter.
Ricky is a first-generation college student, and will attend Harvard University, majoring in Economics. Always working hard to continue to support his community, Ricky aspires to become a leading financial advisor and entrepreneur.
He is the Salutatorian of the Oakland Technical Class of 2020, and a National Merit Commended Scholar. He is a boy scout and a peer tutor for AP Statistic students while also playing on the varsity golf team.
“My definition of success is my ability to impact the lives of others. At Harvard, I plan to be a go-to person by not only using perseverance to uplift myself but by making it my responsibility to provide others with adequate guidance and support to achieve their dreams.”Kelly Low
First Tee – Fort WorthUniversity of Texas at Dallas
Kelly has been a participant at the First Tee of Fort Worth for five years and has been involved as a junior coach and active member of the chapter’s Junior Advisory Board.
An Ace participant and first-generation U.S citizen, Kelly will attend the University of Texas at Dallas, majoring in computer science.
Kelly has a passion for all aspects of the science field and was a member of the Rocket Science Club as well as an AP scholar and member of the varsity golf team. She also was an intern at Lockheed Martin during her time in high school.
“Dealing with challenges was something I used to avoid before being a part of First Tee. Remembering the life skills taught by First Tee, I was able to continue to pursue challenges without losing confidence. First Tee taught me to have confidence in my decisions as I go through life.”
First Tee – MiamiDuke University
Nicole has been a participant at the First Tee of Miami for more than five years, serving as a junior coach and counselor while also an active member of the First Tee Junior Advisory board.
Nicole, an AP Scholar with Distinction and a National Hispanic Scholar will attend Duke University, majoring in Pre-Med, Biology. She aspires to be an NFL team doctor.
A two sport athlete in both golf and track, during her time in High School she directed the First Tee of Miami High School Prep Bootcamp, a camp that focused on young athletes providing help with schoolwork, time management organization and prioritization; Nicole offered guidance and served in a mentorship role.
She also serves as the founder and director of “Box It Tournament,” a tournament that Nicole put together to raise money for a local homeless shelter; she was responsible for fundraising, sponsorship and advertising and helped raise $6,000
“First Tee has cultivated my prowess as a student and a golfer, and the skills I learned through the program will propel me forward as I pursue my endeavors and allow me to stand out in the classroom, the sports world and my career.”Sara Rintoul
First Tee – Central Florida
University of Florida
Sara has been a member of her chapter for the past seven years she will attend the University of Florida, and major in Health Sciences and International Studies.
Sara attended First Tee’s national participant event, the Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. Life Skills and Leadership Academy, in 2018 where she was awarded the Renee Powell Outstanding Female Leader Award.
The captain of her high school golf team, she is also a Recipient of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship to study Arabic abroad as a representative of the U.S.; traveled to North Africa to learn Arabic in 2019.
“My experiences with First Tee have inspired me to make a positive impact specifically by creating positive change worldwide through cross-cultural connections. I have had opportunities that have changed my life, and those memories can be attributed to First Tee.”Remi ShendellFirst Tee – Metropolitan New York
Remi has been a participant of First Tee of Metropolitan New York for nine years and served as an Ace Scholars Tutor and junior coach.
An Ace participant, she will attend Emory University, majoring in Biology and Human health. She aspires to attend medical school and become a doctor dealing with infectious diseases at the CDC or WHO
An AP Scholar with honors, Remi is the team captain of the golf team and dances Ballet Modern and Jazz in her free time. She also is the Director of Public Relations for high school’s Girls Learn International chapter, empowering middle and high school students to advocate for human rights, equality and universal education in the U.S. and around the world.
“First Tee’s self-management skills will help me in college to maximize my education and extracurricular experience. I have learned here of my passion for learning and helping others and hope to now teach others to love golf, too.”Denise Wei
First Tee – San FranciscoUniversity of California, Irvine
Denise has been a member of the First Tee of San Francisco for the past eight years and has served as a junior coach over the last two years. She also had the opportunity to play in the First Tee Regional Cup when she was in 6th grade.
Denise played golf competitively in high school and local tournaments and earned several awards including: Future Grads Award, AP Scholar and Bronze Medal AAA for the CIF SF Section Girls Golf.
Denise is a first-generation college student and first-generation high school graduate. She will attend University of California, Irvine, and will major in Business Administration.
She is very excited to pursue a career in accounting. Denise plans to complete a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration-Accounting and Finance, an MBA and then aspires to work with PwC.
“When the First Tee of San Francisco introduced me to the game of golf at the age of 10, it was a great opportunity for me to be introduced to a game that I thought was not available to me. The program taught me about character and career opportunities. I felt so privileged through the years because of the benefits the program gave to me.”
About the Program
The First Tee College Scholarship Program extends its impact to alumni by providing support throughout their post-graduate career. Each of the scholars will be paired with a dedicated, trained adult mentor who will help encourage and guide them throughout the college experience, including virtual and in-person meetups. The program also provides scholarships up to $5,000 per year for four years, plus professional development workshops held in-person throughout the year. In addition, scholars will receive assistance with internships and full-time employment placement post-graduation. First Tee is a youth development organization dedicated to providing active learning experiences that empowers young people to build their character through the game of golf.
The First Tee College Scholarship Program is open to active participants of First Tee chapters graduating from high school who meet the minimum requirements. Applications were received from participants at 32 chapters in 24 states across the nation. Following an online application process, 10 finalists were selected by a committee for one-on-one interviews. Applicants were considered based on financial need, academic performance, chapter involvement, volunteerism, community service and other criteria.