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Stephanie VandeheyStephanie Vandehey

Stephanie Vandehey: Banks Grad Wins USGA Fellowship

Stephanie Vandehey, a 2001 honors graduate of Banks High School, has won a two-year Fellowship in Leadership and Service with the United States Golf Association (USGA). The daughter of Joan and Nick Vandehey of Banks, she is one of only six graduating seniors in the nation selected this year to participate in this prestigious leadership program.

The USGA Fellowship in Leadership and Service gives recent college graduates the opportunity to gain management and other career skills in an intensive two-year introduction to the workforce. There's also an in-depth mentoring component that helps fellows gain critical skills.

Vandehey, currently a graduating senior with a double major in rhetoric and media studies and history at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., will be responsible, along with five other first-year fellows and six second-year fellows, for managing the USGA Grants Initiative program. "The first year, I will be mentored by a second-year fellow and the next year, I will mentor the new hire. We have $5 million to award to programs that get young girls and children who are physically, economically or mentally disabled interested in playing golf."

Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., each of the 12 fellows is assigned one of six regions around the country. "My southeast region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia and North and South Carolina. We'll fund golf programs in those states with start-up money or maintenance funds until they can secure more permanent funding."

Vandehey, who will travel 60 to 80 days a year, has also been assigned as the USGA representative at the U.S. Girls' Junior Golf Championship in Eagle, Idaho. She'll also be working at the U.S. Women's Open Championship in Colorado.

In addition to hands-on management experience, the leadership program also involves intensive, one-day-a-week classroom training in finance, economics and business management, among other topics. "It's like going to graduate school in business once a week."

To secure one of these coveted fellowships, Vandehey submitted a two-page cover letter, resume, transcripts and letters of recommendation. The key to making her application rise above hundreds of others, she believes, is her varied background. "I raised two flocks of sheep and ran my own welding business. I did this while maintaining a heavy academic load at Willamette, running track and cross country, working as a resident advisor and being involved in many campus activities. My ability to multi-task and succeed in many fields is a testament to my willingness to make a positive impact in the world."

While she's an athlete, Vandehey admits she's a novice golfer. "I play only recreationally and I have limited experience in the golf industry. I've never even played a full 18 holes. I did work in the club house at Killarney West Golf Course in Hillsboro the summer before I started at Willamette."

She sees tremendous value in sports. "I have a great passion for sports and see what they can do for people of all ages. Golf is another sports venue that I've not yet fully explored, but one I'm confident will teach me many things just like other sports have. I think golf will teach me to be patient, to relax and to be in the moment."

Vandehey begins her two-year golf fellowship almost immediately after graduating from Willamette University this month. "I have no idea what's ahead, but I know it's going to be the adventure of a lifetime."