GOLFWORKS Intern Sonya Mendez is named "RBS Achiever of the Year"
Mayor John Fabrizi of Bridgeport, CT Declares the Week of October 24, 2005, Sonya Mendez RBS Achiever of the Year Week.
Sonya Mendez is not your average high school senior. A participant in the First Tee of Metropolitan New York and The First Tee of Connecticut programs, as well as an intern with the MGA Foundation GOLFWORKS Program, Sonya has learned and experienced a great deal through the game of golf. In September 2005 at The Presidents Cup in Prince William County, Virginia golf legend Jack Nicklaus presented Sonya and fellow recipient Eric Jones from The First Tee of Fort Smith (Ark.) with the RBS Achievers of the Year Award. Sonya and Eric were selected from an impressive group of twelve semi-finalists from the First Tee Program’s many nationwide facilities. In addition to the honor of being named RBS Achievers of the Year they each received a $10,000 scholarship to be put towards future education.
On October 26, 2005 at Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course in Bridgeport, CT where Sonya interned this summer, a ceremony was held in her honor celebrating her achievements. In attendance were participants of the RBS The First Tee Mentor Program, representatives from RBS, and the Mayor of Bridgeport, John Fabrizi who presented Sonya and RBS with a certificate declaring that the week of October 24th, 2005 is Sonya Mendez RBS Achiever of the Year week.
The MGA Foundation had the opportunity to sit down with Sonya after the reception. In the interview below, Sonya confirms that she is not your typical high school senior, sharing with us what she has learned through golf, her hobbies, and her plans for the future:
MGA: Why did you think you were a good candidate for the RBS Achiever of the
SM: I was nominated for the award by Ian Baxter, Program Director for The First Tee of Connecticut. I have a lot of the core values that we learn in the First Tee, I am qualified academically and I am also involved in community service. I also think I was a good candidate for the award because I have overcome an obstacle. When I was four years old we moved here from Jamaica. Two years later my Father passed away so this was a big obstacle in my life.
MGA: Which of The First Tee’s Nine Core Values would you say you have come to appreciate more through the First Tee program?
SM: Perseverance, I realized the importance of this value when I enrolled in a MAPS course at the University of Bridgeport, it was very challenging but through hard work and dedication I was able to complete the course successfully.
MGA: Which of The First Tee’s Nine Core Values, do you see as the most important and one that everyone should exemplify?
SM: Integrity and confidence. Without confidence you can not be successful.
MGA: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
SM: I really enjoy photography. I love taking pictures of people and landscapes. I am taking a photography class in school.
MGA: What do you plan on studying in college?
SM: I would like to study Child Psychology, the field really interests me. During my GOLFWORKS internship I was able to work with a lot of kids in The First Tee program which was fun for me and helped me realize that I really enjoy working with kids.
MGA: Will you continue to play the game of golf?
SM: Yes. Golf is a sport that you can play at any age. I am currently a 15 handicap and would love to get even better. I would also like to play in college if the school has a team. I am looking at UCLA for College, they have one of the best golf teams in the country.
MGA: You are involved in the MGA Foundations GOLFWORKS program, what have you learned through this program and has it been an important extension of your First Tee experience?
SM: I learned confidence through the GOLFWORKS program. I was forced to take on different responsibilities and interact with other people. I really enjoyed being a part of the program, especially since part of my internship involved working with the kids in The First Tee. My experience with GOLFWORKS was like a stepping stone to pursuing a career in child psychology.
MGA: If you could play any golf course in the world what would it be?
SM: Trump Bedminster
MGA: Who are your role models?
SM: My Mom, she perseveres through any obstacle. I am very thankful for her support, especially pushing me to do well in school.
MGA: What accomplishment are you most proud of to date?
SM: Definitely being RBS Achiever of the Year and having a week dedicated to me.
MGA: What was it like to meet Jack Nicklaus and have him present you with the RBS achiever of the year award?
SM: It was such an honor to meet a legend like Jack Nicklaus. When he presented me with the award he seemed like he really wanted to be there, he was very supportive and you could tell he believed in what he was doing.
Bio: Sonya Mendez is currently a senior at Central Magnet High School in Bridgeport, CT where she is a member of the National Honor Society, and involved in a number of extracurricular activities. She is a member of her high school’s Volleyball team, the Gay Straight Alliance, the United Methodist Youth Fellowship where she helps raise money for Habitat for Humanity and World Vision, and INTERACT where she mentors local children. Sonya draws on The First Tee Programs nine core values, her internship in the MGA Foundations GOLFWORKS program, and her involvement with RBS The First Tee Mentor Program to excel in her academic work and community service.