Cross Your Tees

Maria Vesga uses family pastime to follow dream, see the world

By Justin Walker

It’s amazing where a little old golf ball will take you. For most, it’s a journey around the golf course or country club, hitting birdies and bogeys. For Maria Vesga, it’s been around the globe, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I always loved meeting people from new places,” Vesga said. “Thanks to golf, I got to travel around the world a lot.”

Her home in Bucaramanga, Colombia, sits right in front of a golf course, where herfather and brother would often play. At age 9, Vesga also began playing the sport after trying numerous others.

“My parents always told me to try different sports,” she said. “I tried tennis, ballet, swimming—everything, basically. I just think it’s funny because I’m super impatient and golf is 100 percent patience.”

That patience paid off. At 10 years old, Vesga began playing competitively, eventually traveling to other countries to play in a children’s tour. Starting at age 12, she began visiting the United States each summer, further developing her skills. It was on these trips her love for different cultures started to develop.

Her parents have their own companies back in Colombia. Vesga grew up with an appreciation for business—especially trade. When her high school required seniors to have an internship to graduate, she looked no further than Zona Franca Santander, a local company that focuses on importing and exporting goods to the region.

Vesga spent several weeks observing the development of business plans and serving as administrative support. This experience solidified her career goals.

“I got to see the importing and exporting in my city and interact with people and managers,” she said.“I learned a lot. I knew I wanted to be involved in international business and some type of management.”

Golf helped her do that. While traveling to the U.S. during her summers, universities started to recruit her to play in college. She narrowed it down to two schools—Oklahoma State University and Baylor.

“What I liked about Baylor was it was a private university,” Vesga said. “I loved the facilities. I loved the team. I really liked how everything was super formal and organized. It just felt like this could be home for me, like home away from home.”

After graduating from high school in May 2015, Vesga moved to the Bishops Gate Golf Academy outside of Orlando, Florida. She began classes at Baylor in January 2016.

Life as a student athlete wasn’t always easy. Between getting the grades to be accepted into the Hankamer School of Business and meeting the demands of the golf team, Vesga felt the pressure building. When she was accepted into the School, she decided to double major in International Business and Management. She had to take summer classes just to keep up, but she managed.

During her time with the Lady Bears, Vesga earned Big 12 All-Academic Team honors. It’s a testament to her abilities both on the course and in the classroom. Now that her college eligibility is up, Vesga is looking to start her career in international business. She’s in talks with a company that imports foods and brands from Latin America, many of which she is familiar with.

“A lot of the brands are from Colombia,” she said. “I grew up knowing of these brands, so it’s something I really want to do.”

Vesga would like to stay in the U.S. for at least a year, maybe earn a master’s degree in Barcelona and continue to travel the world before she returns home to Colombia. Whatever she ends up doing, she can credit her time at Baylor and her experience as a student athlete for preparing her for the next journey.

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