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2015 Woman of the Year finalist: Rebecka Surtevall

The Swede’s decision to play college golf at Arkansas Tech has yielded a bright future

When Sweden’s Rebecka Surtevall decided she wanted to play college golf in the United States, she ventured across the Atlantic and visited several campuses. Ultimately, she chose Arkansas Tech University, nearly 5,000 miles from home. Degree now in hand, with opportunities to venture into business or play golf professionally on the horizon, she is certain she made the right choice.

“Looking back, I am thankful that I picked a Division II school,” said Surtevall, who finished third individually in the 2014 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship. “I loved the balance between school and athletics. It is what I was looking for when I made up my mind to go to school and play golf.”

Moving from Stockholm to Russellville, Arkansas, to attend college provided a few culture shocks – the ubiquity of fried food and Wal-Mart were surprising, she said – but she quickly blended in and thrived. Surtevall excelled both in the classroom – in May, she earned a degree in management and marketing – and on the golf course, where she was named the Great American Conference’s Women’s Player of the Year four times.

She chose to study business because of her family’s influence. Her parents, Elisabet and Gunnar, own a children’s clothing store in Stockholm. Plus, an uncle once owned a sporting goods store.

“I grew up in an entrepreneurial family,” Surtevall said. “I have always been interested in owning my own business someday or coming up with an idea and trying to develop something.”

Those plans, for now, will be put on hold as Surtevall tries to extend her golf career by qualifying for the LPGA Tour. She took part in LPGA Qualifying School in August and plans to make another attempt next year. She is thankful for the opportunities that await her because she took a 5,000-mile leap of faith.

“There is so much of (the world) for me to see still,” she said. “There is so much to do, and I have a long bucket list.”