The recipients of the 3rd annual Tom Cousins Award were announced last night in conjunction with the East Lake Cup presented by Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Atlanta, with Divya Manthena (University of Southern California) and Will Gordon (Vanderbilt University) each being presented with the award. Manthena and Gordon were selected by a panel of industry leaders aiming to recognize a male and female collegiate golfer whom best represent the values of the award: exceling in academics, engagement in his or her community, and a demonstrated ability to overcome adversity.
A sophomore business administration major at USC, Manthena (Moorpark, Calif.) is following in the footsteps of family members from generations before her through a commitment to bettering the lives of others, latching on to causes with personal significance to her. The founder of her own non-profit organization, Krishak, she has spearheaded five separate golf outings in the past six years to benefit organizations such as the American Red Cross, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Special Olympics, among others. In 2013, Manthena also was the recipient of the USGA/AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, which recognizes a male and female junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through volunteerism.
A junior at Vanderbilt, Gordon (Davidson, N.C.) was named to the 2016 and 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll, along with the 2017 SEC Community Service Team. On the golf course, Gordon was named to the 2016 SEC All-Freshman Team and the 2016 All-SEC 2nd Team. While in high school, Gordon conducted a weekly after school program for kids through the First Tee of Charlotte, passing along to others the values that the First Tee had instilled in him. He is continuing his passion for making a positive impact on the lives of young people, currently volunteering at an elementary school near Vanderbilt’s campus as a tutor to help students with their reading.
The award is named after developer and philanthropist Tom Cousins, who laid out an aspirational blueprint to revitalize the East Lake community of Atlanta by providing cradle-to-college education, mixed-income housing and community wellness to break the cycle of poverty to create a holistic environment. East Lake now acts as a national model for community redevelopment through Purpose Built Communities for transforming a struggling community into a thriving neighborhood. The East Lake Foundation (the tournament’s beneficiary) to date has received nearly $1 million since the inception of the East Lake Cup in 2015 through the support of presenting sponsor Hewlett Packard Enterprise and associate sponsor CSX. Buick, an official corporate partner of the NCAA, joined CSX as an associate sponsor for the East Lake Cup in 2017.