First Tee Entrepreneurs Program: Meet Joia Robertson
The Fisk University student 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 Joia Robertson, a freshman at Fisk University living in Nashville, Tennessee
‘It was a spontaneous thing’
Heading into the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am and the inaugural First Tee Future Entrepreneurs program, Joia Robertson has no expectations.
That’s not because she feels the events won’t be valuable. Instead of a detailed checklist with actionable items, she’s choosing to let the experiences happen and only then take stock of what was learned and who was met.
Having an open mind, foregoing comfort zones, and living in the moment have proven fruitful for Robertson, who recently completed her first year of college. It’s actually how she ended up at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
“What I love about golf is its difficulty. You can’t master it .” — Joia Robertson, First Tee Entrepreneurs Program Participant
Robertson’s college plan included a consideration of Stanford University. There, she’d take a pre-med track before heading to medical school after graduation.
“Playing college golf, that was not a part of the plan,” she said.
For some time, Fisk golf coach Robert Moore pursued Robertson, hoping to make her the centerpiece of his recruiting class. And for some time, she rebuffed his efforts.
And then, with a little thought and not much warning, clarity arrived.
“It was a spontaneous thing,” Robertson said. “I didn’t really hesitate when I picked Fisk, and just went with it. Diving into what an HBCU has to offer was important to me.”
College-aged Robertson had the confidence to make tough decisions her adolescent version didn’t. She gives credit for much of that maturation to the First Tee — Tennessee.
“It (golf) was a gift I didn’t know I had,” she said. “My mom would tell me it’s fun and a hobby, but also I recognized it’s a key to business as well. I saw it could unlock a lot of opportunities for me.”
Perseverance is a character strength First Tee empowers its participants to develop from their first session to their last.
“One must be dedicated in order to improve and grow in the game,” she said. “You must persevere and understand that every game will not be your best game. Push through, never give up, and accept the good games as well as the bad games.”
First Tee’s belief in serving local communities has stuck with Robertson all these years later. And it is the catalyst for some of her post-college goals.
“One of my future aspirations is to start a nonprofit (organization) that helps children in disadvantaged areas get the access to education they need to succeed. I know it will take a person ready to step up to the plate (to achieve the aspiration), and I am preparing for it every day.”