2020 Female Finalists

Rice University’s Erica Ogwumike has garnered an extensive list of awards throughout her basketball career. To name a few, she’s been named the 2018-19 C-USA Player of the Year, the 2018-19 C-USA Preseason Player of the Year and the 2017-18 C-USA Newcomer of the Year. Notably, in 2018-19, she was Rice’s first student-athlete to receive the C-USA Female Athlete of the Year award. On the court, she’s averaged 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. Her impressive stats have led her to be ranked 29th in the NCAA for rebounds per game, 12th in the NCAA for defensive rebounds per game and 43rd in the NCAA for free throws made. All the while, this kinesiology & policy studies graduate student has maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 and has logged more than 500 community service hours.
Golfer Aashaka Desai at the University of Delaware is a senior double major in computer science and cognitive science. She is captain of the golf team and she competed in three tournaments, or nine rounds of golf, this past fall, averaging an 83.11 with a par of +11. When not golfing, Desai, who is deaf, devotes her time to research at the University of Delaware’s Speech Language Acquisition and Multilingualism (SLAM) lab where she studies how artificial intelligence technology can assist people with hearing loss in daily life activities. Desai is also working on an app to help with word recall using semantic networks, vectors and clustering techniques. She’s a member of the Women in Computer Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society
Soccer player Chanel Thomas is a senior managerial finance major at the University of Mississippi. At the school, she serves as the Ole Miss Soccer Team Academic Captain and is on the Ole Miss Soccer Team Leadership Council. Over the course of her freshman, sophomore and junior year, Thomas has played in a combined 60 matches for a total of 3,929 minutes. She’s maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 throughout the years.

2020 Male Finalists

Senior soccer player Uriel Garcia at the University of Houston-Victoria has played 43 games throughout his college career, helping his team to two Red River Athletic Conference championships along the way. He’s a recipient of the 2019 Champions of Character award, he was named a 2018 DaktronicsNAIA Scholar Athlete and he was named a RRAC Scholar Athlete for four years. On the dean’s list for six semesters, he’s a major in kinesiology. When not on the field, Garcia’s charitable spirit has led him to be an active volunteer in the cleanup following Hurricane Harvey; a UHV soccer camp volunteer; a 5-year participant in the Movember movement; a volunteer for the team’s annual blood drive; and a volunteer at the local animal control center.
In the course of his swimming career, senior Aaron Boyd, a business information and technology major at Virginia Tech, qualified in 2019 for the U.S. Open and in 2018 qualified for four events at the ACC Championships in fly and free. That year, he placed 10th in the 400 free relay. Consistently on the dean’s list and honor roll, Boyd also serves as an Adopt-A-Family committee chair and a THRIVE ambassador for Virginia Tech’s athletic mental health programming.
Basketball player and sports science major Dontelius Ross at Jackson State University has played in 19 games, including 17 as a starter, earning his team an average of 2.3 points per game. All the while, he has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has logged 94 community service hours. In 2020, he earned the Breakfast of Champions award.

2020 Female Semi-Finalists

Maya Banks is a senior accounting major at Dominican University who competes for the school’s women’s tennis team while also giving back to the community. Since 2016, she has served on the Dominican University NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and, since 2017, she’s served as a “Village Coach” for the school, working with assigned mentees as well as other Black students. Additionally, she has consistently volunteered with PricewaterhouseCoopers for its Access Your Potential Service Days, teaching financial literacy and gardening to underserved youth on the South Side of Chicago.
University of Louisville’s Brenna Shanahan is obtaining her master’s in sport administration while playing for the school’s lacrosse team. Ranked fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Shanahan appeared in 18 games with 14 starts in the 2019 season and led the team with 14 assists, while adding five goals for 19 points for that season. In 2019, she was named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association’s honor roll. Shanahan has volunteered with the Louisville Urban League, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Cardinal Athletic Fund, Fellowship for Christian Athletes and the Dreams with Wings youth organization.
Junior Carlene Luna, a member of California State University, San Bernardino’s women’s soccer team, played a total of 1,502 minutes in 2019 starting in 16 games. Within those minutes, she faced 246 shots but only allowed 28 goals. At the end of the season, she finished 3-8-0 overall with 2 shutouts. A communications major at the school, Luna has in the past dedicated time to American Red Cross Club blood drives, planning and executing the tri-annual blood drive and orchestrating community outreach activities. In 2018, she visited children at the Loma Linda Hospital on a bi-weekly basis to play and color with them.
Runner Faramola Shonekan is a senior history major at the University of Missouri making strides in and out of the classroom. Voted team captain for three consecutive years, Shonekan was a recipient of the University of Missouri Athletic Program’s female “For the Love of the Game” award and was a top 3 finisher in the 800m run at the 2019 Mizzou Open. In addition, her academic achievements have made her a 2019-20 Rhodes Scholarship Finalist and 2020-21 Fulbright Semi-Finalist.
Thi Nguyen, a senior at Saint Joseph’s University, has been a standout athlete on the track team. She won the indoor 3000m at the 2019 Frank Colden Invitational; she placed 12th at the 2019 Delaware Cross Country Invitational; she placed seventh in the 3000m and eighth in the 800m at the 2018 Fastrack Metro Season Opener; and at the 2017 Jack Pyrah Invitational, she placed fifth in the mile. A biology major with a cumulative GPA of 3.96, Nguyen is a fellow at the Institute of Clinical Bioethics where she is involved in researching and educating community members on public health issues. She is also a Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor as well as a Project Sunshine Volunteer.
North Carolina State University’s Claire Zanti is a senior biological science and animal science major who competes as a shooter for the school’s rifle team. In the 2019-20 season, Zanti shot a career-high in small-bore with a score of 579 as well as a seasonhigh of 586 in air rifle. Since 2015, she has volunteered approximately 200 hours as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and in the summer of 2018, she volunteered 96 hours in Chernobyl, Ukraine where she helped sterilize and vaccinate hundreds of stray dogs and cats within the exclusion zone. She’s made the dean’s list for seven semesters and has been named a Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association Scholastic All-American since 2016.

2020 Male Semi-Finalists

A wrestler at George Mason University, senior Talha Farooq is a three-year starter and an Eastern Wrestling League Conference place winner. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminology, law and society, Farooq is classified as a Provost Scholar Athlete. Outside school, he serves as a mentor with the NOVA Wrestling Club where he helps young men and women with both their homework and wrestling skills.
Tennis player Rayden Murata is a senior film and video production major at Pacific University. A three-time Northwest Conference Scholar Athlete and a three-year member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s All-Academic Team, Murata has served as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee since 2019. Additionally, in 2019, he represented Pacific University at the 2019 CoSIDA Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Jordan Holly, a senior baseball player at Murray State University, played all 54 games in the 2019 season finishing the year with a .254 average, 7 doubles, 1 triple and 1 home run. A finance major at Murray, Holly has made the dean’s list multiple times, was on the Ohio Valley Conference honor roll in 2018-2019 and holds a cumulative GPA of 3.97.
Golfer Matthias Schmid at the University of Louisville made a mark on his campus by setting a record stroke average of 70.55 for one season. Additionally, the junior finance major was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference team and earned second team All-American honors — the highest golfing honor in the school’s history. He has also been named to the PING AllRegion squad where he was selected as a PING all-region honoree and has played on the International Palmer Cup team.
Joseph Medina, a volleyball player for the University of California, Merced, was recently named UC Merced’s Male Intercollegiate Scholar Athlete of the Year and a Golden State Athletic Conference ScholarAthlete. A senior psychology major, Medina dedicates time to serving at St. Vincent de Paul, a charitable organization in his hometown, where he helps provide food and clothing to the homeless.
Runner Givon Washington, a senior business administration and economics major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a stellar record on the track and in the classroom. He finished in 5th place at 3:09.12 for the 4x400m relay at the 2019 Big Ten Championships. Washington’s 2019 personal bests for outdoor track are 21.81 seconds for the 200m and 47.50 seconds for the 400m. In the classroom, he’s maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.0 and has been awarded Nebraska’s Highest Honors Academic Medallion in 2018 and 2019.