St. Monica senior Nayani Lewis will be attending the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on a golf scholarship in the fall. She noted how she connected well with the women’s golf head coach Tiana Jones.
“I had my official visit in February,” Lewis said. “I never been to the east coast at all. It was really cool going to Maryland, seeing all the trees, very different than L.A..”
Lewis joined the Tee Divas and Tee Dudes (TDTD) Junior Golf Program in April 2021, which reintroduced her to golfing after the COVID-19 quarantine.
TDTD and the Southern California Golf Association helped Lewis get funding to compete in tournaments and invited her to events on professional golf courses. The experiences from those organizations, along with competing for her high school, helped improve Lewis’ golfing skills.
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Lewis attends St. Monica Preparatory school because it has a golf team and an arts program. She transferred there after spending stints at Culver City and Palisades high schools.
“Golf and art go hand in hand for me,” she said. “I transferred there and went on the team and then I started to remediate my grades.”
As a sophomore, Lewis earned a 4.0 GPA. She also became captain of her high school golf team that year.
“I’ve been mentoring my teammates who are also my friends,” Lewis said. “In our league, there isn’t a lot of diversity, so making sure that we recruit young Black players, we recruit P.O.C. players is a priority for us.”
Her efforts to bring awareness to the St. Monica golf teams helped the boy’s team have enough players to qualify for the CIF.
“The boy’s team has never had so many players and they’ve won every single tournament so far,” Lewis said. “I’m their manager and we’re the most diverse in our league.”
In 2015, Lewis got into painting. She took Advanced Placement art and participated in her first art show last year.
“I had made an AP art portfolio in school which required me to do 15 pieces with a theme,” Lewis said. “My theme was how I felt other people viewed the Black experience during the 2020 riots and pandemic.”
Lewis also has a business called “Nayani’s Pet Portraits” where she creates art of pets.
“It just started on Instagram, I just started posting some of my own pets,” she said. “One of my favorite teachers, his dog passed and I wanted something to memorialize him, so I drew his dog and he was very happy.”
Lewis works as the vice president of the Black Culture Club at St. Monica. The club researched their school’s patron saint to find out she is from Northern Africa.
“We wanted to make sure that they knew that she was African,” Lewis said. “We made a Black mass so that they listened to Gospel music.”