New Evans Scholars interviewed at Selection Meeting in Atlanta

GLENVIEW, Ill. – Four students from Atlanta have been awarded the Evans Scholarship – a full housing and tuition college grant offered to golf caddies – following a final selection meeting interview at Capital City Club in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 16.

The students – who are all seniors at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School – will begin college this fall as Evans Scholars, attending one of the Program’s 24 partner universities nationwide. Decisions on awarded schools will be finalized by March 15. The Evans Scholarship is valued at more than $125,000 over four years.

The Western Golf Association (WGA), 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.

To qualify for the Evans Scholarship, each student must meet the Program’s four selection criteria and show a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character.

The four winners – who are all the first in their families to attend college – include: Sandy Catalan of Atlanta, Lapidoth Iyiola of Atlanta, Carolynn Junco of Atlanta and Eduardo Israel Rivera Alvarado of Mableton.

Sandy, Carolynn and Eduardo were all participants of the WGA Caddie Academy’s Chicago chapter, a special summer program that provides work opportunities to promising high school students from across the country. The program offers students a chance to live together for seven weeks and caddie each day at nearby golf clubs, while earning money, meeting role models and learning valuable life lessons on the golf course. After successfully completing three summers, participants are eligible to apply for the Evans Scholarship.

“My caddie experience has shaped me into the person I am today,” says Sandy, who caddied at Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois, and hopes to own a business someday. “I am more secure about what I want in life because the Caddie Academy prepared me for a successful future by pushing me out of my comfort zone.”

Carolynn, who also caddied at Glen View Club, hopes to study business or computer science. “At the Caddie Academy, I built long lasting friendships, expanded my community, improved my communication skills, learned to be a leader, and of course, learned so much about the amazing sport that is golf,” she says.

Eduardo, who plans to study business, was raised by a single mom and has a sister who also is an Evans Scholar. He caddied at Park Ridge Country Club in Park Ridge, Illinois. “Caddie Academy was an immense opportunity for success, networking and growing as a person,” he says. “In addition to making money, I was given the experience of living away from home and had the opportunity to make new friends.”

Lapidoth participated in another summer caddie work program called Camp Sankaty Head that partners with the Evans Scholars Foundation. In 2018, Lapidoth immigrated from Nigeria with his parents and two siblings. During the summers, he lived and worked at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Nantucket, Massachusetts. He plans to study computer science.

“In Nigeria, I was always at the top of my class. After moving to the U.S., I found myself struggling to pass some classes,” he says. “Waking up early and learning work ethic in the caddie yard instilled discipline in me. With my newfound discipline, caddying and school became a lot easier.”

Currently, a record 1,130 caddies are enrolled at 24 universities nationwide as Evans Scholars. More than 12,040 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the Program was founded in 1930 by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans Jr.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new group of student caddies to the Evans Scholars family,” said WGA Chairman Steve Colnitis. “Their dedication in the classroom, on the golf course and in their communities represents what our Program has been about since 1930.”

Selection meeting interviews for Evans Scholar finalists will continue nationwide through spring. When the 2023-24 selection meeting process is complete, an estimated 340 caddies from across the country are expected to be awarded the Evans Scholarship.

Funds for the Scholarship come mostly from contributions by more than 36,000 supporters across the country, who belong to the Evans Scholars Par Club program. Evans Scholars Alumni donate more than $15 million annually, and all proceeds from the BMW Championship, the penultimate PGA TOUR Playoff event in the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup competition, benefit the Program. In 2024, the BMW Championship will be held from Aug. 20-25 at Castle Pines Golf Club in the Denver area.