Lessons learned on golf course, at Miami, paid off for Erin Cronin ’20

by Josh Chapin, Manager of Editorial Services

For Erin Cronin ’20, golf started with her dad, Jim. He loved to play, and it was a fun activity for the family to do together.

When Jim passed away in 2003, Erin’s mother, Diane, went back to work to support Erin and her siblings, Kelly and Ryan. Kelly, the oldest, asked what she could do to help the family, and she found her answer working for the summer as a caddie.

It paid off, in more ways than one. Kelly earned an Evans Scholarship to Marquette University, and she inspired both her siblings to work as caddies. Erin followed her sister’s footsteps, not only as a caddie but also as an Evans Scholar, earning the scholarship to Miami University.

“I started caddying when I was 10 years old. I started when she finished,” Erin said. “She paved the way for me.”

Provided by the Evans Scholars Foundation, Evans Scholarships supply full college tuition and housing to golf caddies with excellent grades, outstanding character and demonstrated financial need.

The foundation also provided Erin with a memory she’ll never forget. Serving as the standard bearer for the BMW Match Play Challenge in August at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois, Erin was surprised when she was approached by PGA Tour standout Bryson DeChambeau.

Bryson DeChambeau awards Erin Cronin with the Evans Scholar of the Year award.
Bryson DeChambeau of the PGA Tour awarded Erin Cronin ’20 with the Evans Scholar of the Year award during the BMW Match Play Challenge in August in Olympia Fields, Illinois.

DeChambeau, the ninth-ranked player in the world, told Erin there was something “pretty special” for her before presenting the Orland Park, Illinois, native with a bib and plaque representing her standing as the Evans Scholar of the Year.

It was a surreal moment for Erin, but one she’ll remember for the rest of her life. “I had this overwhelming wave of joy,” she said.

The Evans Scholar of the Year is the most prestigious honor a student can earn within the Evans Scholars program. John Kaczkowski, president and CEO of the Western Golf Association, praised Erin in a press release, saying she “has shown incredible academic excellence and outstanding leadership.”

Erin was nervous when meeting DeChambeau and had no idea what was coming next.

“Just to be recognized as a leader among the other scholars was really special for me,” she said. “I don’t think everything really sunk in for me until I was on my way home.”

Erin graduated from Miami with a degree in speech pathology and audiology. She currently is studying at the University of Wisconsin for a Master of Science degree in speech-language pathology.

Miami wasn’t a school Erin was overly familiar with, though she knew about the university through Chicago-area students who had attended. She did some research, visited the campus and knew instantly it was her destination.

“Once you set foot on that campus, there is no going back,” Erin said. “It’s that quintessential college town. When I visited, I knew I was going there.”

While at Miami, Erin participated in a business fraternity and the university’s National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter. She also directed a 2018 philanthropy effort for melanoma research in honor of Tom Binzer ’79, a leader of Evans Scholars both at Miami and nationally, and a mentor for Erin. He passed away in August.

“I’ve been thinking about him a lot,” she said. “He was a really dedicated advocate. He will be a beacon of light for everyone in that scholarship house for years to come.”

Respected by her peers for her leadership, Erin served as president of Miami’s Evans Scholars chapter in 2018. She also was executive vice president for the chapter and director of fundraising for NSSLHA.

She is a natural leader, said Joe Desch ’84, vice chairman of the Western Golf Association, noting Erin is a source of inspiration for Miamians past and present.

“She made herself, her fellow scholars and her community so much better.”

– Joe Desch ’84, vice chairman of the Western Golf Association

“Erin Cronin stood out from the first day I met her,” Desch said. “One of those ‘a-ha’ moments for me was when she volunteered to run the annual house philanthropy and then motivated the house to do another separate event to raise money for melanoma research. They have done two events annually since, and with her motivation, they all strive to be as successful.

“She made herself, her fellow scholars and her community so much better.”

Erin counts her time in the scholarship house among her favorite Miami memories. Throughout her four years in the scholarship house, each person there brought a new lesson into her life, challenging and pushing her.

Just as Miami brought new experiences and understanding, so did her work as a caddie. From getting up early to having patience, discipline and the ability to generate conversations, Erin translated her time on the golf course to other aspects of her life as she learned how to multitask and to approach situations in different ways.

“It’s really hard to do anything in this life on your own, and I definitely didn’t do it alone,” she said. “I had so much help. I’m really thankful I had the opportunity to attend Miami. It was the best four years of my life.”

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