Having maintained a 4.0 GPA and competitively played her four years of eligibility, Donesky applied. She was stunned to learn that she had been selected as one of three female finalists, and she was flown to St. Louis for interviews with the NCAA committee. She recalls being impressed by the other finalists.
“They were both so talented,” she says.
Donesky vividly remembers the moment the committee named her as the female award winner. “We were all six of us candidates (three male and three female finalists) standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for their decision. When they called my name as the winner, I remember thinking, I get to stay and go to law school. I just had a feeling of home here in the States. To this day, it remains one of the most pivotal moments in my life. I will always be grateful for the opportunities it gave me.”
Donesky is the only golfer, male or female, to win the scholarship to date.
Shortly after returning from St. Louis, Donesky found a yellow envelope addressed to her on the steps of her Victorian-style home. She recalls being puzzled by it, as it bore the White House seal but no return address.
“I thought it was some kind of promotional mailer. I almost threw it out,” she says. She is glad she didn’t. The envelope contained a personal letter from then President Bill Clinton, congratulating her on being named the 1996 Walter Byers female student-athlete scholarship recipient.
Donesky ultimately attended the University of Minnesota Law School beginning in 1997, after spending a year on practical training at the law firm of Greenbaum Doll & McDonald in Lexington, Kentucky.
“I was able to get practical experience, and I still hold those partners in such high regard,” she says.
Coincidentally, the male recipient of the 1996 Walter Byers Scholarship played football at St. John’s University and also selected Minnesota for his post-graduate study. He attended the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Interestingly, both made Minnesota their homes, and now, 25 years after winning the award, each practice their respective crafts in Minnesota.