LIBERTYVILLE – She is one of the many students who have participated in this particular program over the last ten summers, and she probably won’t be the last, either.
Melanie Tapia of Chicago, who is entering her senior year of high school, was working at the Merit Club as part of the WGA’s Caddie Academy on a warm late July day. It’s her third summer in the program, one that has taught her about the game of golf, interactions with others, while building a bond with fellow camp participants.
She’s part of the group of 50 female high school students from under-resourced areas who caddied at 13 participating clubs across the Chicagoland area while also living together at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest.
“I get to meet so many girls from all over and they’re all amazing people, and I think the big bond that we have inside the house is, it’s very family-like, and I love it,” said Tapia. “I love coming back summer after summer and just getting to see all the girls again.”
There are also 27 female students who took part in the program virtually, while 17 male high school students are taking part in an academy based in Evanston. All are taking part in the program to be eligible for an Evans Scholarship, which can go to a student who takes part in program for three-consecutive summers.
“I think the participants make this program what it is. I can’t imagine doing this program with anybody else right now,” said Kara Chin, the director of the Caddie Academy and scholarships for the WGA. “These kids are working so hard and they’re getting up every day to caddie and they’re putting themselves out there into these fields that they normally wouldn’t be a part of and getting to talk with people and network with people.”
For Tapia, who is in the third year of the program, that has been as valuable as anything when it comes to her experiences in the program.
“You’ll get lots of interviews in the future, so I think starting with good communication skills now is just a great step in general,” said Tapia. “I think getting to know all these professional golfers who also have different jobs in different industries will be great because I’ve known some girls who get internships and different opportunities like that, and also just great connections to get to know lots of people in general.”
Larry Hawley had more on the WGA Caddie Academy on Wednesday’s WGN News Now, and you can watch that in the video above, while also seeing more interviews from Chin and Tapia in the middle video.