Melanie Ortiz began her effort to become a Chick Evans Scholar early in her caddying career when she became a participant in the Western Golf Association Caddie Academy, an Evans Scholar affiliate program designed to provide those who may not have caddying opportunities with a summer full of them.
WGA Caddie Academy has programs for boys and girls and looks for academically successful students who may live in areas with limited caddying opportunities because of a lack of golf courses and country clubs. It is a seven-week program that includes housing and is free to admitted applicants. Students are chosen in their freshman year of high school to participate for four years.
Ortiz’s experience was a bit fragmented because of the pandemic, but the program still gave her a wealth of knowledge and opportunities, she said. During the summers that she could work, Ortiz caddied at the Brierwood Country Club in Deerfield through the Caddie Academy program.
“My favorite thing is the networking, and I never have more fun than when I’m caddying,” Ortiz said. “The program created opportunities for me and has given me experiences that I know will be really helpful as I enter the adult world.”
When Ortiz found out that she had been named an Evans Scholar, she sat in disbelief on her bed staring at her acceptance letter. Shocked and overjoyed were some of the emotions she felt as she landed on cloud nine for quite some time, she said.
Ortiz was so excited she proudly shared the news with her honors contemporary history class at Nazareth Academy that is taught by Anthony Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said the class gave Ortiz a standing ovation.
“I hope she realizes how proud we all are of her, and not because of the recognition, but because of how hard she works,” Gonzalez said. “She empowers others to be leaders through her own leadership and is personable and knowledgeable beyond her years.”
Ortiz said she believes she was chosen because of the work ethic she has shown in school and the community, something she credits as having received from her parents. She said caddying has made her more confident in communicating and has taught her how to socialize with others even when they are from different backgrounds or generations.
Ortiz hopes to attend the University of Michigan and already has been admitted to the college’s Liberal Arts and Sciences program, where she plans to major in economics. She is excited about the housing opportunities that come with being an Evans Scholar, as well as the social guidance she said she knows she will receive.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from other students who are Evans Scholar recipients,” Ortiz said. “There’s a lot of guidance and networking involved and everyone just wants to see you succeed, so I know that’s an environment I can thrive in.”