A mantra I live by is when one door closes, it’s because it wasn’t meant for me. When I am redirected, I’m reminded that this is where I’m supposed to be. At 13, if you would have told me I would be playing golf I wouldn’t have believed it. Luckily enough, I was unknowingly signed up for the after-school program at my school by my dad. At first, my reaction was negative, and I told him, “Golf? Only old people play golf! I don’t want to go!” Nonetheless, I went because my dad told me to go and try it for at least two weeks. The classes were only once a week and were located at a small 9-hole course near the school. So, the first day of classes I get on the bus to go to the course and was greeted by Coach Katie and Coach Ron. I remember being shy and nervous about playing since I was one of the few girls in the session. Despite being shy I recall the coaches being welcoming and kind to me.
After the first day, I had changed my mind and wanted to keep coming back to First Tee. My mom kept taking me because one, I enjoyed playing and two, she knew it would help me in the future. Once I was consistent with the after-school class, I started attending Saturday sessions with the program at another nearby course. Here I met different coaches and other participants of the program. Sadly, the course I first started playing at was shut down and I moved to the newer course indefinitely. At the same time, I was also donated my first set of brand new golf clubs from the program because I didn’t have a set of my own. Being left-handed, the courses I played at had far and few between left-handed women golf clubs.
As the years went on, I had gone to several different courses with the program because the sessions would end with those courses. Along the way I met several coaches and other participants in the program. Come to think of it, I think I kept coming back because of the positive atmosphere when it came to learning and growing as a player in golf. Not only that, but I appreciated the kindness every participant had shown me despite being such a reserved person. By moving around different courses I also learned how to make friends which helped me learn how to blossom in new environments.
I mention a positive atmosphere because of one of my earliest memories in the program. I was being taught by Coach Ron and he had told me I had potential to grow as a player, and in that moment that was the first time I was ever told that by a mentor. The memory of that moment is so vivid that I remember I was learning how to putt on the practice green at an old course that no longer exists. Ten years later and I still hold onto that memory to this day, because it made me realize it’s important to instill positivity into mentees and that words have impact. From then on, I learned that having a good mentor, coach, or leader is much more powerful than I had even realized. Eventually, once I graduated high school, I had started my first job with the First Tee. I was a junior coach at a course by my house and this was my first experience with being a mentor for children in the program. I’m grateful for this because it showed me that I enjoy teaching children and like to find different ways to help them understand what they are learning. Today, I’ve been put into positions where I teach my peers and even my superiors.
The same year I graduated high school was the first year I applied for the First Tee – Greater Dallas Scholarship. I didn’t fully understand the importance of the scholarship because I am a first-generation college student within my family. I took it for granted and didn’t realize how much of a privilege it was to even receive the reward from my chapter. All I knew was that it was something I had to do, because it would help me pay for college. Once I received the award the first time, it hit me that this was something serious and shouldn’t be taken for granted. So, every year moving forward I made sure I turned everything in on time and got all my recommendations from mentors and professors I had over the years.
When I first started attending Tarleton State University, I had changed my major from nursing to environmental engineering after my first year. After my first semester, I made the dean’s list for perfect grades. As for the reason I switched from nursing to environmental engineering, I truthfully wanted to change the narrative that there aren’t many Latinas in STEM, and I wanted a different challenge that involved being outside because I love nature.
In my second year, the first semester I was the president of a Latina-founded sorority and in several other clubs. Yet, in the spring semester, the COVID-19 pandemic had begun and most of my classes had gone virtual. At this point, none of the clubs were active and I was no longer president. That following fall, all my classes were online, and I failed every single class. With classes being online, I felt as though I didn’t have the self-discipline that I have now that would’ve allowed me to pass those courses – let alone taking math or engineering courses online. I am a student who must be in the classroom to learn efficiently. Failing an entire semester was the lowest point in my college career. Although slowly but surely, with each following semester I finally got to a point where I didn’t fail any classes.
Due to failing that entire semester, my graduation had been pushed back further than I expected. So, I retook all the classes I had failed and had the best semester of my college career in the fall of 2022. The highlight of one of my hardest classes was making a 100 on a midterm for water resources. I mention this because two years prior I would’ve never imagined myself scoring that high in an engineering course. Thankfully, throughout my time in engineering courses, I had made friends who all wanted each other to succeed. I’m more than grateful for the group of friends I made in the engineering program because it was such a positive environment. We all wanted each other to grow in school and in the real world. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my group of friends I made, I wouldn’t have gotten through the engineering program as smoothly. Not to mention, the two professors in the program that taught me throughout my degree. Both have seen me grow as a student and person, as well as seen me fail and succeed. Anytime I had a question they were there for me and always uplifted me when I didn’t feel accomplished.
While in college I had several internships, and my first internship was in a lab on campus. Here, I learned how to test water for bacteria from wells in the nearby area. After this, I got my first engineering internship in Brownwood for the Texas Department of Transportation where I learned how to make maps for the state using a program called ArcGIS Pro. From my time in Brownwood, the next year I decided to intern again through TxDOT but in the Galveston office. In Galveston, I learned how to design projects that would be put out within the next couple years. It was even more interesting because I was working on a project that involved the road I drove on to go to work every day. I say that it’s interesting because I felt like I was working towards something that would impact the community I lived in, in a positive way.
Currently, my adult aspirations include graduating with my bachelor’s in environmental engineering and receiving my licensure to become a professional civil engineer in environmental and water resources. Being a First Tee participant has helped me complete my bachelors by providing the opportunity to receive the First Tee Scholarship of the Greater Dallas chapter. Along with the tools to make long-lasting connections and being able to persevere despite hardship. Playing golf at a young age taught me patience early in my life and that good things truly take time when it comes to my goals and aspirations. I’ve had many mentors in my life and have even come to a point where I’ve become a mentor to people in my life. I know I’m only just starting when it comes to my career, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me. I enjoy being in a state of constant growth because that means I’m where I’m supposed to be.