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Diversity & Inclusion
May 3, 2022

First Tee Entrepreneurs Program: Meet Jakari Harris

The Hampton University graduate is one of the selectees of the inaugural program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

A smiling woman stands on a golf course
Diversity & Inclusion
May 3, 2022

First Tee Entrepreneurs Program: Meet Jakari Harris

The Hampton University graduate is one of the selectees of the inaugural program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

For 25 years, First Tee has used golf to teach lessons about life, providing affordable and accessible programs for youth of all ages and backgrounds. Through active learning experiences, digital activities, and on-the-course instruction, First Tee empowers kids and teens to build inner strength, self-confidence, and resilience that they can carry to everything they do.

For a decade, Wells Fargo has been a proud supporter of First Tee. From 2012 to 2021, through the Wells Fargo Succeeding Together contest, thousands of First Tee participants submitted essays detailing what First Tee has meant to them, showing its positive impact across the country. Each year, one winner was selected to play in the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am with a PGA Tour golfer.

This year, Wells Fargo and First Tee are expanding their relationship by debuting the First Tee Future Entrepreneurs program. Available to First Tee alums who attended or graduated from historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, the program will provide mentorship and networking opportunities for participants interested in business or entrepreneurship, as well as a spot in the Pro-Am with a PGA Tour golfer.

The inaugural selectees of the program, Jakari Harris from Hampton University, Lennard Long from Morehouse College, and Elijah Royal and Joia Robertson, both from Fisk University, were selected by a national panel, and submitted an essay application focused on their future aspirations for their careers, golf, and life.

Meet Jakari Harris, a Hampton University graduate living in Atlanta

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‘Challenging and humbling’ game brings lifelong confidence'

The relationship Jakari Harris has with golf with is simple.

She loves it — and she hates it.

The love started in elementary school when Harris’ father got her involved with a golf academy in Atlanta. While mingling with other parents at the academy, he heard of a well-respected program that not only taught young kids how to play golf, but also provided life skills and social activities.

It was the First Tee — Metro Atlanta. Harris attended school just yards away from Charlie Yates Golf Course, home of First Tee of Eastlake in Atlanta, so it was easy for Harris to pour herself into golf.

Those afternoons at Yates, when the Georgia sun beamed brightest, are where the hate comes in.

“First Tee has poured so much into me, and I wouldn’t be where I am without it. I know for sure that teaching is my passion. Mentorship is so important to me. I want to be a professor at an HBCU and just have an impact on younger people’s lives.” — Jakari Harris, First Tee Entrepreneurs Program Participant

“In the beginning, I was really hard on myself,” she said. “If I started off a hole bad, that would dictate my play for the rest of the round. But I just saw golf as mentally and physically challenging. Playing it kind of helped set me apart from other kids.”

As much as she enjoys the physical part of golf, a different aspect of it appealed to Harris most. She considers herself a “STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) person at heart.” Growing up, she and her siblings spent time at summer camps that introduced them to disciplines like advanced math, technology, chemistry, and medicine.

“The game is so challenging and humbling,” she said. “I’m a problem-solver, and no one shot is the same.”

Today, Harris is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at both Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. The lessons learned with First Tee have inspired her future plans.

“When I think about what kind of impact I want to make in the world, giving back to my community always comes to mind,” she says. “First Tee has poured so much into me, and I wouldn't be where I am without it. I know for sure that teaching is my passion. Mentorship is so important to me. I want to be a professor at an HBCU and just have an impact on younger people’s lives.”

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