Sixty Student-Athletes Honored at President's Scholar Luncheon

Sixty USD Student-Athletes were honored for their academic achievements at the President's Luncheon on May 17.Sixty USD Student-Athletes were honored for their academic achievements at the President's Luncheon on May 17.

Sixty University of San Diego student-athletes were honored May 17 at the annual President's Luncheon for Scholar-Athletes for achieving a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5. Student-athlete honorees and invited faculty members were all guests at a luncheon hosted by USD President Dr. James T. Harris III.

“USD continues to represent the absolute best of intercollegiate athletics,” said Ron Valenzuela, USD’s assistant AD for academics. “Training to excel in a sport and learning to master a scholarly discipline require copious amounts of time, effort, focus and motivation. Needless to say, it is difficult to maximize the development of both in tandem without some personal sacrifices. So, we gathered at the President's Luncheon to celebrate the academic and athletic success of our student-athletes.”  

Msgr. Dan Dillabough, vice president for Mission and Ministry, led attendees in an opening prayer. USD's Faculty Athletic Representative, Dr. Mitch Malachowski from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, addressed the crowd in opening remarks. Malachowski posed the question, "Is there beauty in sports?" and provided several examples of originality, artistry and creativity in sports.    

Senior football player Devyn Bryant, a Mechanical Engineering major, then shared a speech to the group. Bryant mentioned, "Here at USD our culture is to perpetually improve our surroundings. We are encouraged to use our unique gifts and talents to be leaders. That is an aspect of my college education that I did not expect. I would place equal or more value on the leadership skills I have been taught, and change making endeavors I have pursued. I am honored to have taken this journey these past four years with the people in the room. To succeed, you must surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are constantly pressing towards success. At USD I never had to look far to find people like that. To some of my teammates I would tell them ‘As iron sharpens iron,’ I’ve come to realize that my growth is in large part to the other people around me who unknowingly through their example and actions sharpened my own skills."

Each scholar athlete was presented a certificate of academic excellence and achievement by their head coach. Associate Vice President and Executive Director of Athletics, Bill McGillis, mentioned the importance of “Winning in the classroom, winning on the playing field and winning in the community. It is intentional that winning in the classroom is referenced first in that mantra.  Education and preparation for life after college is front and center for all of us who work in athletics.  There is a reason in higher education and on college campuses the term student-athlete and not athlete-student is used.  In each of your cases, the very best term to use is scholar-athlete.  Every one of you is setting a tremendous example for other student-athletes and other students at USD.  Your persistence, focus, drive, thirst for knowledge and desire to learn is going to result in receiving an amazing education, the very best college experience possible and a lifetime of opportunity.”     

The program ended with closing remarks from President Harris, who reflected on his day as a student-athlete after switching roles with Cross Country's Olivia Gonzalez for a day as a part of USD's President for a Day. Harris’ day started early. He joined the team’s 6 a.m. off-campus workout and returned to campus at 9 a.m. to attend classes, fulfill Student Athlete Advisory Committee duties and attend the Honors Program student presentations. Harris also spent time with the USD Athletics Training Room staff and enjoyed an ice bath. Overall, he gained a deeper appreciation for the time demands of student-athletes and enjoyed being in community with fellow Toreros.

— USD Athletics

The 60 USD Student-Athlete honorees are:

Baseball: Jordan Abushala, Junior, Computer Science major, overall GPA 3.52; Sean Barry, Senior, Finance, 3.5. 

Football: Brant Berglund, Senior, Finance, 3.71; Devyn Bryant, Senior, Mechanical Engineering, 3.53; Anthony Lawrence, Junior, Accountancy, 3.62; Jack Michael, Junior, Accountancy, 3.75; Jake Michaels, Sophomore, Biology, 3.5; Max Michaels, Senior, Accountancy, 3.94; Alec Moreno, Senior, Accountancy, 3.72; Creighton Morfitt, Sophomore, Electrical Engineering, 3.99; Kaene Soto, Junior, Economics, 3.51; Connor Spencer, Senior, Electrical Engineering, 3.73; Luke Taffuri, Senior, Accountancy and Finance, 3.5.  

Swimming and Diving: Mackenna Briggs, Sophomore, Psychology, 3.68; MK Clancy, Sophomore, Behavioral Neuroscience, 3.80; Liza Kuznetsova, Sophomore, International Business, 3.56; Gwen Walter, Senior, Real Estate and Finance, 3.69. 

Women’s Soccer: Caitlyn Kretzschmar, January 2017 Graduate: BA, Psychology, 3.51; Julia Sherwood, Jan. 2017 Graduate: BA, English and Philosophy, 3.97. 

Men’s and Women’s Cross Country: Matthew Beasley, Senior, Finance and Real Estate, 3.5; Liam Burke, Junior, Anthropology and Economics, 3.64; TJ Hodges, Senior, Accountancy, 3.78; Adel Kelifa, Sophomore, Political Science and Philosophy, 3.5; Matthew Smith, Senior, Business Economics, 3.5; Shannan Conlon, Junior, International Relations and Spanish, 3.57; Julie Giannini, Junior, Biology, 3.68; Olivia Gonzalez, Senior, Communication Studies and Honors Program, 3.93. Sarah Kapple, Senior, Electrical Engineering, 3.82; Sam Mattice, Junior, Communication Studies, 3.93; Zani Moore, Sophomore, Behavioral Neuroscience, 3.74; Camille Morales, Sophomore, Biology, 3.97; Shea Ricketts, Junior, Biophysics, 3.61; Mary Tenuta, Junior, Biology, 3.83. 

Men’s Soccer: George Delisle, Sophomore, Electrical Engineering, 3.78; Michael Thilenius, Senior, Mechanical Engineering, 3.81. 

Men’s Rowing: Owen Chase, Sophomore, Undeclared, 3.67: James Davenport, Sophomore, Undeclared, 3.51; Fiona Murphy, Senior, Communication Studies, 3.5; Pierce Salamack, Senior, Electrical Engineering, 3.5; Nicholas Watson, Senior, Mechanical Engineering, 3.86. 

Women’s Rowing: Megan Goodman, Senior, International Relations and Spanish, 3.62; Meredith Hoggatt, Senior, Mechanical Engineering, 3.84; Alena Kaye, Senior, Economics, 3.51; Morgan Lester, Senior, Finance, 3.56; Quinn Taylor, Senior, Biology, 3.5; Vada Thomas, Sophomore, Environmental and Ocean Studies, 3.50; Karli Wittenberg, Senior, Biochemistry, 3.61.  

Softball: Kelly Clanton, Sophomore, International Relations, 3.57; Lauren King, Senior, Marketing, 3.93; Shannon McKeon, Sophomore, Undeclared, 3.62; Olivia Sandusky, Senior, English, 3.80; Taylor Spence, Sophomore, Psychology, 3.5. 

Women’s Basketball: Caroline Buhr, Sophomore, Finance, 3.5; Alexandra Hagen, Sophomore, Behavioral Neuroscience, 3.71; Tayla Hepburn, Sophomore, Undeclared, 3.64; Jamie Kissinger, Junior, Accountancy, 3.84; Sydney Shepard, Sophomore, Business Administration, 3.66; Edi Utibe, Senior, Communication Studies, 3.83.

Volleyball: Kristen Gengenbacher, Junior, Communication Studies and Theology and Religious Studies, 3.88.  

Women’s Tennis: Sophia Chow, Sophomore, Undeclared, 3.73.