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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Evans Scholar Shalonda Jones learned golf, life skills in pursuit of scholarship

Video by Brian Georgeson and Halle Gordon
Photo by Maryam Tunio
Shalonda Jones. Photo by Maryam Tunio/[email protected]

Shalonda Jones, one of 17 new Evans Scholarship recipients, said “this is a big deal.” At 18 years old, she is the youngest of six older brothers and the first in her family to attend college.

Jones, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, attended Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls private high school in Lake Forest, Illinois. It introduced her to the scholarship program, which awards free college tuition and housing to golf caddies.

With limited knowledge about golf, she started caddying in 2012 in pursuit of the scholarship. She took part in one of the first all-girl caddie groups at the Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation.

Mike Maher, director of education for WGAESF, has known Jones for four years and said she has a fantastic attitude.

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“I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face,” Maher said about Jones. “There’s a certain energy that comes with Shalonda that is very well-received.”

Jones moved into the Northwestern University Evans Scholarship House in Evanston, Illinois, and it was the first time she left her northern Chicago home, which she said is in a rough neighborhood. She welcomed all the pros and cons that come with group living.

“It was exciting for me to just be away from home for the first time,” Jones said. “I love my family, but I know how to be independent.”

For Jones, the adjustment to Marquette’s Evans Scholarship House has been relatively easy. Her upbringing in a male-dominant household in Waukegan, Illinois, shaped her confidence and strength before entering the caddie academy, where she then strengthened those qualities.

“Living where I grew up definitely gave me an outer layer of skin that helped me push through things,” Jones said.

She thanks WGAESF for helping her learn more about herself and keeping an open mind to her housemates from different backgrounds around the country.

“You learn a lot of people skills and how to be resilient,” Jones said about caddying. “You never know what the day will present you with.”

Two summers ago, resilience was exactly what she needed. Jones received the news of her brother’s death while at the caddie academy. She said the support from everyone around her made it possible to keep reaching for her goal – attending college.

Jones’ community at home continues to be a vital support system, and she remains active on social media to update them on her life.

“Everyone who I grew up with was super excited about all my accomplishments and achievements,” Jones said. “The support was overwhelming.”

As the number of girls at the WGAESF rose, Jones stood out to Maher as a leader.

“She went from a very hesitant and introverted new participant to almost a natural and immediate leader.” Maher said.

Outside of the program, Jones said she’s thinking of taking on leadership opportunities during her time at Marquette.

Jones said the Evans Scholarship program has been and continues to be a “gateway to success.”

“I’m excited to continue my college career here at Marquette and to go out in the world and do great things,” Jones said.

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