Itzel Espino Receives Joyce Taylor Award & $4K Scholarship at Invitational

The Joyce Taylor Eagle Award and $4,000 College Scholarship was presented to Itzel Espino at the First Tee – Silicon Valley (FTSV) 2022 Invitational fundraiser on Tuesday, July 12th at CordeValle in San Martin, CA. Itzel was selected for her consistent academic excellence, for her work accomplishments, and for her demonstration of First Tee Nine Core Values and Life Skills.

The purpose of the award is to provide a high school student the financial hope of attending college. For Itzel, the scholarship helps her pursue her goal of being the first in her family to go to college. 

The scholarship was initiated by a very generous 9-year grant by PG&E several years ago by founding FTSV Board Director, Victor M. Arrañaga, Jr. Thank you to all our 2022 Invitational sponsors that helped fund our 2022 scholarship and programs.

Itzel is a rising senior at Cristo Rey High School in San Jose. She has:

  • Completed 3-Year Internship at Silicon Valley Bank (SVB)(a program to give students work experience and contacts)
  • Received “Employee of the Month” at SVB
  • Selected for and Received $500 Scholarship for her work in Astronomy Club at Evergreen Valley Community College
  • Achieved Honor Roll All Three Years of High School
  • Played Violin for Alum Rock Mariachi Program

She joined FTSV in 2018 and in addition to being a participant, recently joined our coaching team. In her speech to the Invitational attendees, she touched on three themes — her family history, the impact of getting financial assistance for our program, and the life lessons she learned and applied at her internship.

She started by telling her story about her family and the impact FTSV had during a time of unpredictability. “I am a Mexican American woman who was raised by two immigrant parents that sacrificed everything by moving here to the U.S for a better life. My parents, with just hope, a daunting language barrier, and no connections or relationships, left their home with their chins held high knowing it was a risk, but it was necessary. During my entire childhood we moved around California. Not having a consistent home meant I had to start over after each move and make new friends, which was a huge challenge for me at that time. I like to think my timidness had something to do with not feeling settled and not having a consistent community. When we moved back to San Jose we found the First Tee booth at an Alum Rock School event. At that time, I wouldn’t have guessed that FTSV would be that consistent community that I was missing….but it turned out to be the case!” 

FTSV attends Alum Rock community and school events throughout the year in addition to bringing the program to schools within the local community. At one of those events Itzel and her sister, who at the time attended Sheppard Middle School, signed up for our golf course program and have not looked back.

 Itzel went on to say, “thanks to your donations, my sister and I were able to register for financial aid and had the opportunity of playing golf.” Over the 4 years she played in tournaments, attended field trips and Girls Golf events, and coached younger participants. According to Itzel, “In every experience I met and built relationships with so many people and began to develop that community that was missing with all of the moving that previously occurred in my life.”

In addition to building the community she felt was lacking, she referenced the impact FTSV had on her interpersonal skills, which helped her be successful in her Silicon Valley Bank internship that she has been doing since her freshman year. “I began to build self-confidence, and I started to develop specific communication skills,” said Itzel. “I learned how to ask open-ended questions, and in our Ace class, how to professionally correspond via email.”

She concluded her speech by saying, “FTSV helped me become a dreamer, a dreamer that sets goals for the future. Made me dream of a career I hope to pursue in the future and helped give me the tools to become an achiever. I tell myself  ‘to NOT limit myself, dream big dreams, and to tackle great challenges.”

You can watch Itzel’s Speech here.

Congratulations Itzel. We are proud to have you as the 2022 Joyce Taylor Eagle Award recipient!

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Joyce Taylor (1957–2010) was a woman known for her intelligence, warmth, and elegance. She graduated with honors (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Oklahoma (OU) with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism. Joyce became a highly successful and respected business woman and community leader with a long career in telecommunications. In 1997, she was promoted to Regional President, Bay Area, and then Senior Vice President, External Affairs-Northern California, AT&T, where she oversaw legislative, governmental and external affairs activities in Northern California.

Joyce worked extensively with Bay Area business and community-based organizations. Her support of the Eagles at Rancho del Pueblo junior golf program was instrumental to its growth and success. In 2005, the program became First Tee — Silicon Valley to develop the character of youth through golf throughout Santa Clara County. Joyce’s support helped to build a solid program that has reached over 81,234 youth since 2005. The Joyce Taylor Eagle Award is given annually to provide financial assistance for college to a participant who has consistently achieved academic excellence and exhibited First Tee Nine Core Values and Life Skills.