“Come on, try it out!” These were the words that ultimately convinced Raymond Yao to join the Youth on Course family. He was reluctant to try a game that he considered to be for “old people,” yet his sister challenged him to at least hit one shot. Raymond describes his vivid memory of reaching into his sister’s bag and completely shanking the shot left. After a less than successful golfing debut, Raymond became determined to hit it in the air. From that moment on, he was hooked.
Raymond comes from a family that places great emphasis on improving yourself and giving back. As immigrants from China, Raymond’s parents made many sacrifices to try and give their kids a better life than they had: “Observing the exhausted faces of my mom and dad after returning home from a long day at work pained me, and from a young age, I was committed to working hard in school so one day they didn’t have to come home weary-faced anymore.” Youth on Course has provided an environment for Raymond to help ease his parent’s stress. The values that were instilled in Raymond from a young age have been further cultivated by the many programs Youth on Course offers.
Raymond first became involved with Youth on Course when he was 12 years old, but has been testing out his golf game since he was 8. It was his sister that gave him the nudge towards Youth on Course to refine his skills on the course. Raymond describes the sincere gratitude he feels for having the chance to play a sport normally reserved for the elite, for one dollar. The opportunities that Youth on Course has provided for Raymond are unmatched “I’ve been able to play on stunning courses all across the Bay Area, meeting other youth who share this enjoyment for the game, all the while developing a sense of camaraderie, discipline, responsibility, and integrity.”
Youth on Course not only provided Raymond with a chance to get out on the golf course, but also encouraged him to give back to the community. Throughout high school, he describes discovering his passion for community service, volunteering at a local museum and becoming part of a non-profit that develops leadership programs for high school students. Without Youth on Course, Raymond firmly believes, he wouldn’t have realized the impact that he could have on those around him, leading to a lifelong commitment to volunteerism.
Without Youth on Course, Raymond admits his dreams of higher education wouldn’t be possible. As a Youth on Course scholar and Morton family scholarship recipient, Raymond is able to pursue his Bachelor’s degree at Stanford University. Raymond and his sister are proud to be their family’s first generation to attend college (she currently goes to UC Berkeley). The thought of being able to afford a private school education was never expected for Raymond and his family, but thanks to the Youth on Course scholarship, he will be able to attend the college of his dreams. Post-college Raymond aspires to obtain his Master’s in computer science and a minor in business, eventually creating his own tech company centered around artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“I know that the road isn’t going to be easy, but with the help of those around me, including Youth on Course, I’m confident that my dreams can become a reality.” -Raymond