Three The First Tee of Benton Harbor Participants to Receive Scholarship

The First Tee of Benton Harbor recently awarded three participants the 2018 The First Tee of Benton Harbor Scholarship. The three participants selected were Mason Dirlam, Stacy Pullen and Katie Schmidt.

Mason Dirlam attends St. Joseph High School and plans to attend Grand Valley State University in the fall and study communications.

“I am going to Grand Valley State University because for the past few years it has been a dream of mine to play on the golf team,” said Dirlam. “My goal is to work hard this summer and work my way on to their varsity team by sophomore year.”

Dirlam has been a part of The First Tee of Benton Harbor for over eight years.

“The First Tee has been a second home for my brother and I,” said Dirlam. “The coaches and participants are always welcoming and smiling and that’s why we always come back. The program has sent me to places around the country I could have never imagined.”

Dirlam offered up some advice for younger The First Tee of Benton Harbor participants.

“Take advantage of everything The First Tee has to offer. Come in and hit on the simulator in the winters, and make connections with the people that work here,” said Dirlam. “You never know what a simple smile or handshake could lead to in life.”

Stacy Pullen attends Benton Harbor High School and plans to attend Michigan State University in the fall to major in communications.

“This scholarship will allow me to fulfill my dreams of going to college.  It will take a lot of financial pressure off my mom, who works two jobs,” said Pullen. “By pursuing this scholarship opportunity, I know the value of working hard to achieve your goals.”

Pullen has been a part of The Coalition program through The First Tee of Benton Harbor for four years.

“Since I became a member of The First Tee, I have had the chance to help out in the community and go on college visits,” said Pullen. “I have done things that I would not have done on my own without encouragement and opportunity.”

Pullen passed on some great advice to younger participants.

“Throughout my association with The First Tee of Benton Harbor I have learned perseverance,” said Pullen.  “At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to join the program, but when you commit to something worthwhile, you can be successful.”

Katie Schmidt attends St. Joseph High School and plans to attend Western Michigan University starting this summer in the Heath Careers Connection Program. Schmidt plans to study pre-occupational therapy with a minor in psychology.

“My goal is to be admitted to Western Michigan’s doctorate occupational therapy program,”  said Schmidt. “Then, as a licensed therapist, I hope to return to Saint Joseph/ Benton Harbor to serve the community which supported me throughout the years.”

Schmidt has been a part of The First Tee of Benton Harbor since 2010.

“The life skills learned through The First Tee have helped me through elementary, middle, and high school, and they are still helping me now as I prepare to go to college,” said Schmidt. “The golf skills I learned assisted me greatly throughout my varsity golf career. Getting individualized help from The First Tee coaches not only improved my scores, but boosted my confidence as well.”

Schmidt is excited to start college this summer.

“The First Tee scholarship will financially help me obtain my goal of attending college,” said Schmidt. “Because I have the honor of receiving this scholarship, I will be able to help those around me.  In this way, I am a part of a chain reaction of helping others.”

“I will never forget the memories I’ve made through The First Tee.”

To apply for the scholarship, students must live and demonstrate The First Tee Nine Core Values and The First Tee Healthy Habits, be a member of The First Tee of Benton Harbor for at least two consecutive years, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, and volunteer in the Benton Harbor community.

Along with our scholarship award winners, Melinda Boccia was selected as our volunteer of the year.

“Our program is heavily reliant upon our volunteer base,” said Ebon Sanders, Executive Director. “We are fortunate to have what we feel is the best group of volunteers in Southwest Michigan, and Melinda, who’s been an amazing volunteer for years is one of the best.”