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Inspiring futures: Anthony Bynum's scholarship journey from Sea Pines to success

6 Min Read

Beyond the Ropes

Anthony Bynum pictured with the plaid jacket members after receiving the Heritage Scholarship. (Credit Anthony Bynum)

Anthony Bynum pictured with the plaid jacket members after receiving the Heritage Scholarship. (Credit Anthony Bynum)

    Written by Helen Ross @Helen_PGATOUR

    Prior to this week, the closest Anthony Bynum had come to Harbour Town Golf Links was one of the many parking lots tucked discreetly into the abundant trees on the vast Sea Pines property.

    On Tuesday, though, he wasn’t working as a volunteer and parking cars at the RBC Heritage. Bynum was front at the center at one of the PGA TOUR’s Signature Events, walking down the 18th fairway as part of the opening ceremonies.

    The Citadel’s Regimental Pipe Band shepherded Bynum and the rest of the group to the green. They were steps away as an antique cannon roared and defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick teed off into the Calibogue Sound to get the tournament week underway.

    “First time I’ve seen a cannon fire off,” says Bynum, who is being honored as one of the 11 winners of the Heritage Scholarship.

    The program, which began in 1993, recognizes students based on academic achievement, community service and leadership skills. Ten of the winners received four-year scholarships of $16,000-20,000 while another student got a one-year grant of $4,000.

    Bynum spending time with children through volunteering and receiving the Mayor's Award for his service. (Credit Anthony Bynum)

    Bynum spending time with children through volunteering and receiving the Mayor's Award for his service. (Credit Anthony Bynum)

    Since the program’s inception, the scholarships – totaling $5.4 million – have helped 386 students in Beaufort and Jasper counties like Bynum realize their higher education goals.

    And the Heritage Scholars is just one way the tournament gives back to the Hilton Head community. Last year alone, RBC helped its partners raise more than $2.9 million for a variety of community programs.

    For Bynum, earning the Tartan Award and its $5,000 yearly grant means the difference between the 18-year-old senior at Hilton Head High School being able to go to college or not.

    “I can't afford college unless I pay for it myself through scholarships or through working or through loans,” Bynum says. “Preferably, I would not like to take out a loan, but the plan is to earn as many scholarships as I can. And Heritage has been a blessing with that, just overall.

    “One, it's an amazing network to be a part of. And two, it's the monetary value of it. That's not everything, but it is a big part of my future. And having money just means educational opportunity for me. … This scholarship means that I get to pursue my dreams in aerospace engineering and in other fields later on.”

    Bynum who has been accepted at Cal Tech and Harvard, which he visited last weekend, is nothing if not focused on higher education. His mother, Feven, is from Saudi Arabia where women only recently earned the right to drive a car. College was out of the question, and she has instilled the importance of getting a degree in her two sons.

    “She holds a high standard for me,” Bynum says.

    “I am very proud,” Feven counters. “He’s a blessing to me. He's not just smart, but he cares about people, and he wants to help the community. He wants to encourage other kids like him, and he’s passionate.”

    Anthony logs more than 200 hours as a volunteer each year – a drive that also comes from his mom. She got involved in a group called Pockets Full of Sunshine, which works to strengthen the ties between the community and adults with disabilities, and Anthony and his younger brother, Malachi, soon followed.

    In addition to Pockets and organizations at school, Anthony – who still finds time to play football and basketball – volunteers at Neighborhood Outreach Connections, which works to improve the lives of the impoverished through education, workforce development and better health care. He also is active in his church, running the camera for livestream services, and helps out at his mother’s job in the wedding industry.

    “I got started early on when I was a kid, and so it kind of became a value, just a conscious value of mine, giving back in service,” Bynum says. “It's also a big part of my faith service. Just being a servant to others and helping others is a very important part of my life.”

    Those values prompted Bynum to start NextGen Tutoring, which he calls “literally my greatest accomplishment.” At 7:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, students he’s recruited from his high school work with elementary school kids to improve their reading and math skills.

    “I guess the idea came to me my sophomore year just being a person of color, African American here,” Bynum says. “… I haven't seen a lot of diversity within specifically higher-level classes. .... And it was kind of a bothersome thing for me because I didn't have anybody else who was African American like me, or even there were a few Hispanic people, but not many. And I mean, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was bothering to me.”

    Anthony Bynum volunteering with children through the Neighborhood Outreach Connections program. (Credit Anthony Bynum)

    Anthony Bynum volunteering with children through the Neighborhood Outreach Connections program. (Credit Anthony Bynum)

    So, Bynum spoke with the district school superintendent during a meeting at his school. The superintendent suggested that he focus on elementary school students because that’s where he could have the most impact.

    “You can change, you can alter the track, the trajectory of their courses, what kind of classes they take, and what kind of things they're involved in if you start early on,” Bynum explains. “And so that's what I was hoping to do for NextGen. That's the goal of it.”

    This year’s program ended last week. Anthony made goodie bags and brought donuts to the kids. He’s sad about leaving the program – “It’s my baby,” he says – to go to college but he knows his little brother will do a good job in his place.

    “I've developed a really strong connection with some of the kids,” Bynum says. “They're really, really nice. They're funny. They're a little bit goofy sometimes. They misbehave sometimes, but I love them. That's just the real part of it. They're only fourth graders. What can you do?”

    Bynum developed his appreciation for aviation when his family lived on the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina. He loved seeing the Ospreys and the other different aircraft, and in his spare time, Bynum is working on his pilot’s license. At some point, he hopes to do graduate research into aviation sustainability like making propulsion cleaner.

    While he knows first-hand how the RBC Heritage helps the Hilton Head community, though, Anthony is not a golfer. He figures he might take the game up when he’s a little older – “When I retire, I’ve got to know it,” he explains.

    “The coolest thing when he got the Heritage Scholarship a few weeks back, and we were leaving and he said, who knows, maybe I'll just come back here when I retire with my children and I'll do the same thing,” Feven recalls.

    “And I was like, this kid is already thinking that far ahead about doing the Heritage and giving back, which is the way he lives for in life. And I was just so surprised.”

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