Jacey Patton spent part of the week at the annual Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial tournament, celebrating with the organization that helped her land a full ride at Texas Wesleyan University in the fall.
Patton and another 18-year-old, Anthony Harper II, were recently selected by The First Tee of Fort Worth youth development organization to receive a new scholarship offered through Wesleyan and the Ben Hogan Foundation — a charity set up in honor of the legendary golfer.
The seniors will receive four years’ worth of tuition, fees and books for free.
This is the largest scholarship that the foundation has handed out — with a value of $100,000 apiece. The average cost of tuition at Wesleyan is $19,658 a year.
Patton said that she fell in love with Wesleyan on her first tour and that it was the only school she applied to.
“I’m coming from a really small private school, and Wesleyan just felt like home,” said the recent graduate of Temple Christian School. “I don’t think I could go to a better school.”
The Fort Worth resident will study kinesiology and play golf at Wesleyan.
“I am so excited,” she said. “I can’t wait.”
The other recipient, Harper, said he has been home-schooled his whole life — but he’s ready to take a swing at college.
The Dallas resident joked that he’d like to play golf at Wesleyan but that his game is not “top.”
He plans to study forensic accounting.
“I feel relieved. I was sending transcripts here, transcripts there — now I can focus,” he said. “… I didn’t know how I was going to pay for school.”
Both students are members of The First Tee, which teaches life skills and core values to youth in addition to golf. They must maintain full-time enrollment and good grades to keep their scholarships.
Kevin Long, executive director of The First Tee of Fort Worth, said Patton has blossomed over a brief time and was selected from dozens of teens to participate in the Nature Valley First Tee Open alongside pro golfer Ben Crenshaw in 2013.
“I could tell she was going to be a fine golfer,” Long said.
Harper joined the organization through a Scouting group, and though he plans to play recreationally, he has the “determination to succeed” like a great golfer, Long said.
“He is such a respectful human being,” he added.
As part of the Ben Hogan Foundation Mentor Scholarship, accomplished businesspeople in Fort Worth will meet with scholarship recipients and offer support, said Robert Stennett, executive director of the Ben Hogan Foundation.
The mentors will do whatever it takes to make sure each student succeeds, such as hiring math tutors and offering advice, Stennett said.
Dean Williams will be Harper’s sponsor, while Mark Kalpakis will be Patton’s. Both are Fort Worth residents in the oil and gas industry.
Patton and Harper are the first two students to be awarded the scholarships. One recipient will be selected each year over the next three years.
“Education was very important to Mr. Hogan, and he didn’t have the opportunity — he had to stand on the street corner and sell newspapers and carry golf bags,” Stennett said. “Most importantly, we believe in giving students an education. The greatest thing you can do for a younger person is give them an education.”