When Jake Quast ‘19, Brandon Brame ’19, and Nick Rivera ’19 arrived as freshmen, they knew little about each other apart from sharing an interest in business and a talent for golf that earned them All Pacific West Conference honors this week.
Fortunately, their coach, Gary Nelson, also happened to be their mentor and he, along with supportive faculty and staff, helped guide them in life from tee to green. Now, upon graduation, Jake will begin a full-time job with alliantgroup, a national tax consult services firm in Houston, Brandon will head to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, and Nick, who was leading the Pacific West Conference Golf Tournament entering the final round on April 24, will rely on his business degree and multiple internships to fall back on if his dream to play professional golf doesn’t pan out.
“I am so proud of Jake, Brandon and Nick. They have been phenomenal for the past four years both on the course and in the classroom,” said Coach Nelson after his team finished third in the PacWest Championships on April 24. “I am most proud of knowing most of my players are graduating into a career. I talk to them about using golf as a platform to better themselves and their future. Their Academic All American awards and PacWest academic awards should remain on their resume for their lifetime.”
Though golf and Coach Nelson recruited them to come to Dominican, the three seniors were also drawn by the small class sizes and tight community. Nick, named Dominican Student-Athlete of the Year in May, sought out the recommendation of Drew Nelson ’17, his former high school golf teammate at Robert Lewis Stevenson School in Pebble Beach now a postgraduate student at Durham University in England. Nick and Jake followed Drew’s footsteps into the Barowsky School of Business while Brandon, a Health Science major from Servite High School in Anaheim Hills, was inspired by a business communications class with Dr. Christopher Leeds. All three credit Dr. Leeds, also the faculty athletics representative, and Courtney Budesa, BSB’s internship and professional development director, for helping them explore career choices.
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At Dominican, the three seniors as freshmen were recognized as the No. 1 NCAA Division II golf recruiting class in the country according to GolfStat.com’s “Freshman Class Impact Rankings.” Their scoring average as freshmen (74.64) was better than UCLA's freshman class and UCLA was ranked in the top 18 for NCAA Division I.
As freshman, Jake, Brandon, and Nick led Dominican to NCAA DII National Ranking of 27th in the nation – the highest in school history. They competed in the NCAA Super Regional in New Mexico State Golf Course in Las Cruces. Coach Nelson wanted more for them.
“I know he’s a golf coach and that’s his No. 1 thing, but I almost feel like he wants us to succeed more in the class room than in our careers with golf,” says Brandon who along with Jake was named second team All-Pac West. “He wants us to be good at golf, but we get that much of a supportive vibe from him.”
Off the course, the trio have scored well, too. All three participated in Dominican’s semester abroad program through Global Education. Jake spent the Fall 2017 semester as a Dominican Scholar at the University of Oxford while Brandon and Nick studied in Spain and France, respectively.
“I feel my experience at Dominican has allowed me to grow as a person. I have learned valuable skills in business and in everyday interactions,” says Nick, a first team All-Pac West selection. “Dominican has given me many resources that have allowed me to narrow down my interests and figure out what best suits me. I feel like the internship programs, small class sizes and help from professors gave me to the knowledge and insights necessary for my future.”
For now, Nick’s sights are set on the entry level of joining the professional ranks of golf. Brandon, meanwhile, in his job with the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, will enter the Basic Police Academy and Jake will join the clients relationship team at the CPA firm in Houston in June.
“The internships, competing on the golf course, and different interview processes while at Dominican has given me the confidence to go into the business world as a young professional,” Jake says. “I am confident that I am prepared to be able to accomplish my career goals because of the experiences I have gained here.”
By this summer, the three seniors will go their separate ways after spending four years at Dominican as teammates and eventually roommates.
“I’m constantly motivated by both of them. We’re all three very competitive with golf and in life,” says Jake, a graduate of Cascade Christian High School in Medford, Ore. “They are two of my best friends, but I also hate losing to them and that’s motivated me to get better on and off the golf course.”