Laura Kingsbury lives in a fraternity house right in the middle of Northwestern’s sorority quads. Although this may seem odd, four other women also live in the house. They aren’t members’ girlfriends, and they don’t work for the fraternity.
They are Evans Scholars – golf caddies awarded full tuition and reduced housing scholarships to NU. The Evans Scholars are members of the Interfraternity Council, making Kingsbury and eight other girls atypical “frat guys.”
But living in the Evans Scholars House isn’t that strange, Kingsbury said.
“It’s just like living with a bunch of brothers,” the Communication junior said. “I grew up with two brothers and so it kind of prepared me for this.”
Women first started living in the Evans Scholars House last year, said McCormick senior and Evans Scholars president Patrick Rice. After living with just guys for two years, it was a bit of an adjustment, he said.
“We had to watch ourselves and be more conscious of our actions,” Rice said. “I couldn’t walk around in my boxers when there’s girls living in the house.”
The program was founded in 1928 when Charles “Chick” Evans enrolled at NU, but dropped out after a quarter because he could no longer afford it. Evans went on to become a successful golfer and decided to create the Evans Scholars Foundation for caddies with financial need. Since 1930, when the first scholars enrolled at NU, more than 8,700 Evans Scholars have graduated from 19 universities, concentrated primarily in the Midwest.
Although it has become less common for girls to become caddies, Kingsbury started caddying at 15 after her uncle told her about the program. Many scholars started even earlier. Weinberg sophomore Dan Niemiec started caddying at 12. But the end goal was always to become an Evans Scholar, Niemiec said.
“My mom said, ‘I’m going to make you do this, and you’re going to get that scholarship,'” he said. “That was her goal for me and why she kept pushing me to do it, and in the end, it worked out.”
Scholars apply the summer before their senior year of high school and must demonstrate financial need, have at least a 3.0 GPA and be “outstanding in character, integrity and leadership,” according to the Evans Scholars Web site, on top of caddying for two years at a country club sponsored by the Western Golf Association. In 2007, there were 800-900 Illinois applicants, and only 75-80 were chosen, Niemiec said.
At NU, all but one of the 38 scholars are from Illinois, because the program places students in universities in their own state. The scholarship covers full tuition and reduced housing expenses. Although their housing is subsidized, they do have to cover basic expenses like utilities, which usually amount to about $3,000 a year, Niemiec said.
Unlike the sororities that surround them, there is no chef at the Evans Scholars House. In fact, their kitchen is closed off because of the insurance costs that come with stoves and ovens. The only working appliances include a microwave, a toaster oven and a pizza maker.
Instead, scholars work for their meals. Weinberg sophomore Justin Smith works in Gamma Phi Beta’s kitchen in exchange for food and a paycheck. But that is not a bad deal when nearly everything else is covered by the scholarship, he said.
Smith said living in the house is a requirement of all Evans Scholars. He said staying in the House creates a tight-knit community.
“We’re much tighter than a fraternity or a sorority, mainly because we live together for four years,” Smith said. “We really are like one big family.”