Arthur Ashe Jr. 2008 Finalists - Higher Education
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Arthur Ashe Jr. 2008 Finalists

by Shilpa Banerji

Cliff Hammonds, who led Clemson University to its best basketball season in years, has also impressed his architecture classmates and professors — so much so that they recently created a Citation for Excellence for the senior’s ability to squeeze in basketball practice between drafting architecture models throughout his four-year college career. “They actually made up the award because he was just so unique,” said Josh Postorino, director of operations for the Clemson Tiger’s men’s basketball team. “He is a model student-athlete with a tremendous work ethic.” Averaging 11.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.94 steals per game, Hammond was recently selected as the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame’s Athlete of the Year. With a 4.0 fall grade point average and a 3.21 cumulative GPA, the Cairo, Ga., native is on track to graduate with a double major in architecture and psychology.

Brian Robiskie heads into football season this fall as The Ohio State University Buckeyes’ leading returning receiver. In 2007, the junior led OSU in 55 catches, 935 yards and 11 touchdowns, including three touchdowns against the Northwestern Wildcats. According to, Robiskie “has outstanding speed and quickness, is blessed with good hands and has demonstrated a knack for finding the open seam in the defense … coaches like his presence and command of the game.” The son of NFL assistant coach Terry Robiskie of the Cleveland Browns, he is a marketing major with a cumulative and fall grade point average of 3.5. Robiskie is a varsity letter award winner and a 2007 Academic Big Ten Conference Honoree. He has volunteered at OSU Medical Center’s James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, as well as with OSU’s Youth Football Camp.

Sarah-Jo Lawrence, a guard for George Washington University’s women’s basketball team, was named the 2008 Atlantic 10 Conference Student-Athlete of the Year. She ranks 13th all-time at GW in scoring (1,373 points) and 16th with assists (311). She played in all 130 games during her career, tying the school record, and averaged 12.3 points in 10 NCAA Tournament games. Regarding her ability to juggle academics and athletics, GW head coach Joe McKeown says he never ceases to be amazed. “I am stunned sometimes about how much she gets done in a day. We are so proud of her.” Lawrence is a communications and sociology major with a cumulative and fall grade point average of 3.8. The Rhoadesville, Va., native helped the Colonials to their current national ranking of 14 and is a two-time Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar nominee. This academic year, she was also the president of the Jackie Robinson Society at GW, which sponsors discussions about Robinson and participates in community service projects. Lawrence was involved in fundraising efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and in raising awareness about autism and the crisis in Darfur.

Jessica Young, a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is among the top players in the America East Conference in women’s soccer. While playing soccer at UMBC, the 5’4” forward led her team in scoring and was named team MVP in 2005. Young has earned America East All-Conference First-Team honors, ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team honors and was named America East Player of the Week in 2006. She made 24 career goals with eight career assists. In 2005, she scored 25 points and made the eighth best single-season total in UMBC history. A resident of Waldorf, Md., Young is a political science major who earned a 4.0 fall grade point average and maintains a 3.9 cumulative GPA. She holds a Public Policy & International Affairs Fellowship, among other honors, and was a Habitat for Humanity and Head Start volunteer. Young has been on the Dean’s List since 2006 and is a member of the National College Athlete Honor Society.

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