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Evans Scholar Tasha PhillipsTasha Phillips, A Longtime MMJGA Caddie Is Awarded Prestigious Evans Scholarship

When Natasha (Tasha) Phillips was 12 years old, her stepfather took her to her first driving range. "Made me go is more like it," Tasha recalls with a laugh. "But then it started to be fun." Seeing her interest, her stepfather had another idea. As a member of the Board of Directors at the Hospitality House in North Minneapolis, he had noticed a new group that was meeting there: The Minnesota Minority Junior Golf Association. He encouraged Tasha to join.

"At first I didn't like caddying," Tasha admits. "It was a lot more work than I thought it would be." Struggling across a green with a golf bag almost as big as her was not Tasha's idea of summer fun.

"But then I really started liking it. I got paid to be outside and get exercise, and I started meeting people my own age that were interested in the same things I was."

Tasha's experience with the MMJGA has paved the way for another adventure. She was awarded the highly coveted Evans Scholarship, which provides full college tuition and housing for four years. Tasha, a graduate of Eden Prairie High School—where she was a member of the National Honor Society and played on the varsity golf team—is enrolled at the University of Minnesota. Her course load includes: English, Italian, Introduction to Human Geography, and the Economics of Discrimination. She is currently an Urban Studies major with a minor in African-American Studies.

Tasha is the first MMJGA caddie to win the Evans Scholarship. "We couldn't be more thrilled for Tasha," states Clayton Tyler, founder of the MMJGA. "Tasha represents the MMJGA program at its very best. She's kept excellent grades, developed self-esteem and life skills, and has grown in both discipline and ambition. We know this marks only the first of many achievements that lie ahead for Tasha."

The Evans Scholarship, founded by Charles "Chick" Evans Jr. in 1930, provides deserving caddies with full tuition and housing, and is the largest privately funded college scholarship program in the nation. To qualify, recipients must rank in the top 25 percent of their high school class, have a superior caddie record for two or more years, show financial need and have exemplary personal character. Roughly 200 scholarships are awarded per year. Evans Scholarship recipients enjoy a 90 percent graduation rate, versus the 50 percent enrollee average. In addition to providing full tuition, the Evans Scholarship provides a room at the "Evans House" on campus.

Tasha will also be the first recipient of the MMJGA's own newly formed scholarship fund, which will help with other college expenses. Formed in 2004, this award is privately funded by 2nd Swing. The MMJGA receives funding from a variety of sources, including the PGA Foundation of America.

Even with her ambitious course load, Tasha still works closely with MMJGA and she looks back at her time as a caddie with fondness. "I learned how to deal with a lot of different types of people. There are a lot of different personalities, and caddying for them helped me get along with almost everybody. That was the most important thing that I got out of MMJGA." A lesson that, to the 12-year-old Tasha, may have been as unwieldy as that enormous golf bag, but is now carried easily everywhere she goes.