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2023 William “Widdy” Neale Scholarship Recipients Grace Mikan and Shane Luca

Shane Luca (left) and Grace Mikan (right).

Article by former CSGA president and longtime Wethersfield Country Club member Richard J. Zanini

(September 7, 2023) – The William “Widdy” Neale Scholarship class of 2023 includes two employees of the outside operations staff at Wethersfield Country Club, Grace Mikan and Shane Luca, two delightful and diligent young people.

Wethersfield CC focuses on hiring high school aged students to provide them not only an employment opportunity but also the experience of interacting with members. By assuming work responsibilities and meeting expectations, these young men and women gain a maturing experience that contributes to their preparation for adulthood. Through interacting with a large number of club members, their understanding of human nature grows beyond that of parents and teachers and better prepares them for the next step in their careers.

Grace Mikan was born in China and adopted into an American family at ten months old. A member of the National Honor Society, Mikan graduated from Cromwell High School as a straight-A student. As a sophomore, she began taking Advanced Placement courses including biology and calculus.

Among her activities were leadership and service in the French National Honor Society, the yearbook staff, the World Language Club, and four years on the student council.

She was captain of the cross country team and received All-State recognition in addition to being a varsity starter as a junior and senior. Grace was also selected to represent her school at the international Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference. Meanwhile, throughout high school, her volunteer work ranged from working at the Travelers Championship to helping veterans write letters to serving as a counselor at a local youth camp to helping the PTO and the Central Connecticut Community Women’s Club in their fundraising.

“My two top schools were UConn and Providence College, I ultimately decided on UConn to be with my older sister. I will pursue a mathematics-physics major and hope to find my passion for a career in the next few years,” Grace Mikan said.

Wethersfield CC head golf professional Joe Latino said of Mikan, “if an employee’s main responsibility is to make the professional look good, then Grace has truly succeeded as an employee.”

Cromwell High School teacher and coach, Joshua LaMay wrote, “Grace is a talented and well-rounded young lady with unlimited potential who possesses maturity well beyond her years.”

Shane Luca graduated from East Catholic High School as an honors student who was a member of the National Honor Society and pursued honors and Advanced Placement courses.

Luca was the class president as a freshman and sophomore before moving up to the position of All School Program Director his junior year and then president as a senior. In addition, Luca was captain of both the soccer and golf teams as well as the Captains Council.

Among his extensive school volunteer activities, Shane served as a school ambassador and was a member of the Eagles Take Action service group. In his church, he served as a youth minister and counselor.

“I have been accepted at Providence College and will be the third in my family to attend,” Shane Luca said. “I am excited about the next four years at Providence where I plan to study finance. I hope to learn as much as I can professionally and eventually open my own business. What exactly I will do, I am not sure yet, but I am looking forward to learning about all the possibilities.”

Since 1954 the Connecticut State Golf Association has distributed over $3.6 million in scholarship assistance to over 600 young men and women attending colleges and universities throughout the United States. The 10th Annual Golf Classic & Dinner for the William “Widdy” Neale Scholarship Fund will be held on Wednesday, October 4th at Madison Country Club. To register for the event and for more information click here.

Furthermore, contributions are always welcome to the William “Widdy” Neale Scholarship Fund, 35 Cold Spring Road – Suite 212, Rocky Hill, CT 06067.

About the Connecticut State Golf Association

The Connecticut State Golf Association functions as an extension of the USGA and provides stewardship for amateur golf in Connecticut. Founded in 1899, it is the country’s oldest state golf association and conducts over 60 Championships, Qualifiers, and One Day Tournaments throughout the year.