Braselton, Georgia, United States: Second generation Asian-American Ashley Yen has been named a recipient of the 2020 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award.
The award honours one male and one female junior golfer annually who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links programme, a joint initiative founded by the USGA and the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.
“I am so honoured and grateful to be the recipient of this award,” said Yen, whose grandparents immigrated to the US from Taiwan in the late 1960s.
“I would like to thank the AJGA and USGA for giving me the opportunity to participate in Leadership Links and for making service to our communities a priority. I hope that I can inspire others to find causes close to their heart and help their communities, especially during these challenging times,” added Houston-born Yen.
One of Yen’s greatest passions is helping to provide quality education to every child who needs it, regardless of background. That passion started with her younger brother, Christopher, who has learning disabilities. He attended the Joy School in Houston, a school designed to help young students with learning disabilities.
Her offer to help led to raising more than US$1,500 through the Leadership Links programme for various programmes at the school that provide opportunities to children who might not otherwise have them.
Yen’s passion for education goes beyond fund-raising. During one of her brother’s doctor visits, she discovered a need for STEM education in under-served communities. This led to her putting together STEM education kits to distribute throughout her community.
These kits provide a valuable educational tool to many organisations that serve the community, including girls’ clubs, children’s hospitals and the YMCA. Yen’s non-profit organisation, Kits 2 Kids, has distributed over 1,000 kits to organisations in the greater Houston area.
In addition to providing educational opportunities in the classroom, Yen also volunteers with The First Tee of Greater Houston as a junior coach and mentor to teach kids about the nine core values, bridging her interest in educating children with the game of golf.
“Golf is a game that requires integrity and discipline, qualities that I want to foster in children, whether they are on the course or in the classroom,” said Yen. “I look forward to finding unique ways to teach children who aren’t as fortunate as I am and making a positive and meaningful impact on my community.”
Charlie Creamean of Winnetka, Illinois was the male junior golfer to be honoured.
USGA President Stu Francis said: “Our greatest responsibility is to give back to the game in ways that meaningfully shape its future. These two athletes have provided pathways for more people to love the game, to share its values of character and integrity, and to lead golf forward as both a competitive and recreational game. Their individual work inspires me, and should inspire all of us to do more.”