First Tee Alum Jessica Kent Speaks at Congressional Breakfast

At a time when all eyes are on Washington D.C., alumni Jessica Kent of Bellevue, Wash. had a chance for an up close look at our nation’s Capital when she attended The First Tee’s Congressional Breakfast during National Golf Day. Jessica was asked to share a bit about the breakfast and life after graduating from The First Tee. Here is what she had to say:

Tell us a little bit about the Congressional Breakfast. What were the highlights of the experience?

The Congressional Breakfast was held at the Cannon Caucus room in Washington D.C. where members of Congress as well as members of the golfing community raise awareness about the positive impact of golf. This year, Joe Barrow, the CEO of The First Tee and Tim Finchem, the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, were joined by Ryder Cup team captains Steve Stricker and Davis Love III as well as Nancy Lopez (pictured with Jessica Kent).

World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez (left) with Jessica Kent at the Congressional Breakfast. (Photo courtesy The First Tee)
World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez (left) with Jessica Kent at the Congressional Breakfast. (Photo courtesy The First Tee)

At the breakfast, I was given the opportunity to close the event with my story of how The First Tee has allowed me to stay optimistic and to persevere no matter how many adversities life throws at me. After my speech, many people approached me to personally thank me for sharing my story and opened up about their own personal struggles. One gentleman thanked me because my story inspired him to remain optimistic through his medical challenges. Another thanked me because it reminded him of a family member’s strength to overcome her greatest fear. Simply sharing my First Tee story, and being able to impact, inspire, and personally connect with the audience members was a heart-warming experience I will never forget.

Tell us about your internship this summer.

I will be working with one of my dream companies, the PGA TOUR in Florida. The internship is a 10-week program that focuses on providing work experience, community involvement, as well as helping each intern further develop their careers. I am extremely excited that I have been assigned to the media analytics team as it is a perfect fit based on my marketing background and passion for digital media.

As you reflect on your experiences in college thus far, what lessons of The First Tee have helped to keep you on track?

The First Tee taught me that “golf is the closest game to the game we call life” and the life skills and core values the program teaches have allowed me to accomplish my goals. I learned that the value of confidence is key because your inner strength, determination, and courage is greater than any obstacle. By using The First Tee’s acronym of STAR (stop, think, anticipate, respond), I am able to settle my emotions, remind myself of my go-to team and goals, and focus on the aspects that are in my control whenever life presents its challenges. I am currently ranked within the top 15 percent of my class at the University of Washington with a 3.75 GPA, pursuing a double degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, as well as a minor in Dance. My resilience and determination are attributed to The First Tee because the program has shaped me into the person I am proud to be today.

You have spent a few summers serving as an Assistant Coach. Why do you choose to stay involved in The First Tee?

The First Tee program and the support of every coach has made such a positive impact on my life. I want to give back to the program and provide the younger generation with the same opportunities and skills necessary to succeed. As an Assistant Coach, I see every day the impact golf and The First Tee program has on these participants’ lives. The grin on participants’ faces as their balls sail through the air towards their target or when a participant pulls me to the range saying “Coach Jessica, watch this!” while taking a swing, these are the moments I live for and the reason why I continue to be involved in The First Tee program.