Pay It Forward
September 12, 2010
By Nelson Silverio, PGA TOUR
Charles “Chick” Evans won more than 50 golf tournaments and became the first player to win both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open in the same year. It was the late 1920s, and times were tough in America. With that in mind, Evans knew he could use his fame and earnings to help ensure that future generations achieved success through education. So he regained his amateur status and used his golf earnings to establish the Charles Evans, Jr. Trust in 1928 to assist golf caddies obtain scholarships to attend the college of their choice. Fast forward 80 years to a Western Golf Association boardroom, where Jessica Dillard went through the interview process in hopes of earning a scholarship to her dream school—Northwestern University in suburban Chicago. Dillard did earn that scholarship, and is on-site at this week’s BMW Championship covering all the behind-the-scenes action at the third leg of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup in Lemont, Ill. Dillard is one more example of Evans’ legacy in action. Nelson Silverio recently visited with Dillard to hear her story.
How did your Evans Scholarship come about?
My dad was involved in caddying, and when I turned 13, which is how old you need to be to start caddying at Medinah (Country Club), he strongly encouraged me to begin doing it for the money and to get outside during the summer. But most importantly, he wanted me to work toward the scholarship because my family isn’t super well-off. So it’s my best opportunity to go to a big college. This is my second year as an Evans Scholar, I’m a sophomore at Northwestern.
Explain the process. How does one get chosen to be an Evans Scholar?
It was so nerve-wracking! After you write an essay and submit it for consideration, you get a letter letting you know if you’re a finalist or not. If you’re a finalist, they bring you into a room, you stand at a podium in front of 80 or so people and you get asked questions press-conference style. Several raised their hands to ask questions, and I picked the first person I made eye contact with. I was up for my scholarship during the 2008 elections and was asked how I felt about the media’s treatment of Sarah Palin. Talk about a hard question.
And after that, how long did it take before you received notification?
After the Q&A with the board members, mostly comprised of WGA (Western Golf Association) staff, I waited about a week before I heard back. And that was probably the longest week of my life.
Would you say if it weren’t for the Evans Scholarship you wouldn’t have been able to go to college?
If it weren’t for the scholarship, I would be in a community college right now. Instead, I go to Northwestern, and I love it there. It’s difficult but very exciting. I’m a journalism major.
Are you a golfer?
I’m actually not a golfer, but I have a healthy appreciation for the game and I’m around it all the time through my caddying at Medinah, where they held the PGA (Championship) in 2006 (and numerous other major championships). I was involved with that 2006 event, which was a great experience. I haven’t caddied for anyone famous yet at the club, but I’ve definitely seen some famous members. I even got to see Barack Obama at the golf course while he was running for office.
What are you doing for the BMW Championship this week?
I’m going around gathering behind-the-scenes footage and stories from the tournament. On Tuesday, BMW had a teen-driving event (The BMW Teen Driving Program increases driving knowledge through a series of driver-awareness activities and hands-on driving exercises). It was really cool, taking place at U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox play, and I really wish I could have raced some of those BMWs.
What’s the purpose of the event?
The primary message was to discourage texting while driving, but it also showed them tips on how to react to different, adverse driving conditions such as over-steering or going too fast into a turn. They had a tarp they put water on to simulate skidding conditions. It’s not every day you get to drive BMWs recklessly inside a Major League Baseball park and not get in trouble for it.
I'm very excited to interview Phil Mickelson, but a little nervous too. What a great way to end the week at the BMW Championship. (Click on video to watch Jessica's interview with Phil Mickelson).
What would you like to do with your degree?
I’d like to go into the magazine world. I’m not sure if I want to focus on feature writing or layout design. It’s an exciting time in the publishing world; a lot of people are talking about the digital age, but I think magazines in their print form are going to last longer than newspapers. I feel that magazines are things people want to feel, things that are aesthetic. People like to flip the pages and look at pictures, and that’s not something you can always do online.
What would you say the Evans Scholar program has meant to you?
The Evans Scholarship means more to me than I can explain. Not only am I getting a quality education that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise, but it's given me a second family. The friendships I've made and will make are priceless.
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