From Caddie Academy and an Evans Scholarship, Golf has Provided a Limitless, Bright Future for Penn State’s Kayla Marrero

 Kayla Marrero receives an autograph from Tony Finau, whom she caddied for/Courtesy Photo

“I am the first generation to go to college, and it’s a great feeling. Where I’m from, many people don’t go to college. My grandfather grew up on a farm and stopped going to school in the second grade, so the background I’ve come from is just like, ‘wow, I’m actually here in college doing this.’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent@StacyBrowMedia

 

Penn State University junior Kayla Marrero talked with the Black Press of America during the BMW Championships where she caddied for two famous golfers/Photo By Stacey M. Brown

Kayla Marrero understood the assignment.

The dazzling and brilliant Penn State University junior from West Philadelphia had never considered anything golf-related before entering Cristo Rey High School.

And when she learned of the Caddie Academy, a pro-gram where young people with little or no golfing experience are invited to Chicago to learn how to caddy, Marrero didn’t hesitate to apply.

She knew it was a means to an end – or, better yet, a steppingstone to potential life-changing experiences.

She entered Caddie Academy and immediately realized the benefits of the structured program centered on caddying, academic development, community involvement, and personal growth.

Like the other participants, Marrero gained access to golflessons, a leadership speaker series, seminars on financial literacy and media, health, and wellness, and she participated in essential field trips.

“It’s not easy caddying and carrying those [heavy] golf bags. I’m small, but I said, ‘you got this,’” Marrero said.

While her peers back home didn’t understand, Marrero remained determined.

Like so many others in the academy, Marrero’s determination paid off.

“I was in the Caddie Academy program in my freshman year of high school, and Mike Maher from the Western Golf Association (WGA) came to my school,” Marrero recalled.

 

Kayla Marrero receives an autograph from Tony Finau, whom she caddied for/Courtesy Photo

“He was looking for students for the Evans Scholars Program, and my teacher recommended me because of my personality, great grades, and I came from a low-income family.”

The Evans Scholars program is a complete housing and tuition scholarship awarded to caddies with challenging financial circumstances.

Officials select scholars based on their record as a caddie, excellent grades, character, and a demonstrated financial need.

To apply for the scholarship, students must have completed three summers in the Caddie Academy program.

More than 1,000 Evans Scholars currently attend 21 of the nation’s leading universities, and, since the program’s inception in 1930, nearly 12,000 young men and women have graduated from college as Evans Scholars.

Once Marrero applied and learned it would mean spending six weeks in Chicago, she said she found herself a bit unnerved.

“My dad didn’t want me to go, but my mom influenced him because it was a great opportunity,” Marrero said.

“My mom said we didn’t have the money to pay for tuition, and since my mom and dad had me during their senior year in high school, they couldn’t go to college, so my mom told my dad this is something they needed me to do.

“She said, ‘this is her opportunity; you have to let go of your pride and let her have this opportunity.’ So that’s how it happened,” Marrero explained.

A dual major at Penn State in Public Relations and Spanish with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Marrero said her foray into Caddie Academy and her selection as an Evans Scholar has allowed her to gain experience as an intern in major media industries like SiriusXM.

She’s learned editing skills in the application Galaxy and has ascertained how to identify, cut, and edit audio clips using events, television appearances, and major speeches by political figures for use in a morning show.

“[Peers] called me crazy. They said, ‘you are crazy for carrying that golf bag. It’s the same size as you,’” Marrero related.

“People in my community don’t know much about golf, so I explain that I carry golfers’ bags, and they ask why. I tell them that it’s for my scholarship.”

She continued:

“I want to do this, and my tuition is paid because of this. They say, ‘oh my God, I would never carry a bag.’ Now they understand when they ask me how I got into Penn State, and now they tell me that I’m doing great things.”

When Marrero graduates in 2024, she plans to pursue a career in public relations.

And it all began with golf.

“My freshman year was the first time I experienced golf,” she remarked.

Marrero, who caddied for Justin Finau at the recently completed BMW Championships in Wilmington, Delaware, said waking up at 6 a.m. isn’t always easy.

But she’s learned that caddying involves:

  • Carrying a player’s bags.
  • Cleaning golf balls.
  • Providing tips to players on the course.
  • Holding the pin once the athlete makes it onto the green.

She called it a tough job where the right attitude is always necessary.

The Evans Scholarship quickly alleviates any concerns.

Through her experience, Marrero has not only met famous golfers but retired Dallas Cowboy star Tony Romo, business magnates, and influencers.

“I didn’t know golf, and it wasn’t something I wanted to do,” Marrero stated.

“I am the first generation to go to college, and it’s a great feeling. Where I’m from, many people don’t go to college. My grandfather grew up on a farm and stopped going to school in the second grade, so the background I’ve come from is just like, ‘wow, I’m actually here in college doing this.’

“My mom didn’t have to pay for anything. My dad wasn’t going to take out a loan, and my mom didn’t have the funds. [The Evans Scholarship] was the only way that I

About Carma Henry 20904 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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