Washington University cross country and track & field student-athlete Alison Lindsay and University of Chicago track & field student-athlete Ade Ayoola have been selected as the UAA representatives for NCAA Woman of the Year.
Lindsay graduated with a 3.96 grade point average while double majoring in political science and French. She earned All-America honors in every cross country and track & field NCAA championship she competed in dating back to the 2016 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“My time as a collegiate runner was marked not by the All-America finishes or team national titles, but by the everyday moments of raw relationships with my teammates,” Lindsay said. “Being on the team taught me the value of personal bonds and helped me to develop the tools to lead through service and mentorship. Though my time as a student-athlete is over, I will continue to follow my passions by pursuing a career in law, where as a public attorney I could encourage and empower clients by learning their stories and giving them a voice in the legal system.”
“Alison is one of those athletes during the recruiting process where you have doubts that it will ever work out because she seems too good to be true,” said Washington University cross country/track & field head coach Jeff Stiles. “However, after four years of working together, she was exactly who I had hoped she was. During her four years on campus, her character is what always stood out; it only allowed her to give her best in all she did. Her compassion toward her teammates and her servant leadership is what separates her. Alison was genuinely more invested in her teammates and the team than she was her own individual success.”
Lindsay interned with the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project, assisting attorneys with casework and administrative work for low-income immigrants in the St. Louis area. She served as a math tutor for the North City Youth Programs and went on a summer service trip to Panama City, Panama. Lindsay co-founded the track team’s bible study and was president of the Association of Christian Truth-Seekers (ACTS) campus ministry.
“Alison is a great example of a WashU scholar-champion who made an impact in the classroom, in competition, and within the campus community,” said Anthony Azama, the John M. Schael Director of Athletics.
“Alison was an integral member of one of the most successful runs in NCAA history & she was the one constant. It is impossible to do justice to what she was a part of in 12 consecutive seasons between cross country, and indoor and outdoor track & field,” Stiles added. “So many of her teammates fulfilled their potential because Alison helped them become a part of something bigger than themselves. It was an incredible ride, but I am even more excited for her next chapter of life. I have no doubt she will make a difference in the lives of all those she engages. I am a better coach and person because of Alison. She truly was a coach’s delight.”
Ayoola graduated with a 3.87 grade point average with a degree in biochemistry. She earned four All-Association honors and garnered her first All-America award at the 2018 NCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Ayoola was selected as one of 49 inaugural Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University, which will provide full funding to pursue a medical degree from the Stanford School of Medicine while participating in the scholarship’s global leadership program.
“We are thrilled for Ade in her recognition as UAA Woman of the Year! She is remarkable,” said Erin McDermott, University of Chicago Director of Athletics and Recreation. "Her academic, athletic, and personal achievements are awe-inspiring and almost unimaginable. We are so proud of Ade and we look forward to the greatness that is yet to come for her and its benefit to humanity as she pursues a career in medicine. I have no doubt that she will continue to be a star in everything that she does.”
Ayoola worked on a research project in Ibadan, Nigeria with two endocrinologists to explore the prevalence of different types of diabetes in West Africa. During her time at UChicago, she served as team leader/mentor of the Chemistry Collaborative Learning program that supplements the general chemistry curriculum, and as a Clinical Excellence Scholar, attending discussions with doctors from different fields to learn about medicine and what it means to be a doctor today. Ayoola was a board member on the Phoenix Biology student group that organized events and mentorship opportunities, and volunteered at Hope City, a program for Chicago middle school students.
“The lessons of dedication, resilience, and teamwork that I carry away from my time as a student-athlete have been fundamental in shaping who I am today. Track and field has taught me discipline as it has required me to balance my time and activities as a student, an athlete, and a member of other co-curricular organizations,” Ayoola said. “Every day was a dedication to the pursuits I strongly value, from academics to athletics, a practice in discipline, and a reaffirmation that hard work and commitment can translate into tangible accomplishments. My supportive coaches and amazing teammates have shown me how athletics can transform lives for the better. As I pursue a career in health care, I want to assist other students and young adults in experiencing the opportunities that being a student-athlete provide.”
Lindsay and Ayoola will now join conference selections from all NCAA divisions. The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses from among those nine to determine the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year.
At the NCAA Woman of the Year banquet in Indianapolis on October 28, the top 10 honorees from Divisions I, II and III, including the nine overall finalists, will be honored, and the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year winner will be announced.
Lindsay and Ayoola earned the UAA Woman of the Year selection amongst an impressive list of nominees:
Kimberley Hochstedler, Carnegie Mellon University: The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient finished with a perfect 4.00 grade point average while majoring in statistics and psychology. She was the community service chair in charge of field day for the Spring Sectional of the annual Special Olympics event hosted at Carnegie Mellon. Hochstedler spent two years tutoring first graders at Lincoln Elementary School and served as a camp counselor at Camp Kasem, training in child behavior and grief responses to work with children aged 6-to-16 who were affected by a parent’s cancer. She conducted multiple literature reviews in child and maternal health with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 2018, Hochstedler earned three All-America honors, won the Association title in the 200-yard breaststroke at the 2018 UAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, and helped the Tartans to a program-best 15th-place finish at the NCAA championship.
“After surviving cancer at age 16, I was inspired to help other pediatric cancer patients, and entered college planning a career in pediatric oncology. The athletic and academic programs at Carnegie Mellon provided leadership opportunities to broaden my impact on others and even inspired a change in career goals,” Hochstedler said. “Opportunities to engage in my community outside of medicine helped me develop my leadership skills in areas outside of my sport, team, and initial career goal. After internships at the Summer Institute for Training in Biostatics program and National Institutes of Health, I saw the broad impact biostatics can have through medical research so I changed my career goals to pursue a doctorate in biostatistics. My experiences exemplify how athletics and academics can complement one another to shape larger goals.”
Nithya Kanagasegar, Case Western Reserve University: The six-time All-Association performer in women’s tennis, including 2016 UAA Most Valuable Player, majored in biomedical engineering with a minor in chemistry. She began the first Sustained Dialogue committee at the school, bringing a diverse group of student-athletes together to talk about identity-based issues. Kanagasegar became the first recipient of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award, endowed by Billie Jean King. She led training programs as a leader for Students Meeting About Risk and Responsibility Training (SMARRT), volunteered at Judson Manor Senior Living, and participated every year in the local Inner City Tennis Clinics. Kanagasegar earned ITA Scholar-Athlete honors three times and worked in a lab that successfully synthesized a high hydrogen content polymer for NASA, submitting a paper on the behavioral trends in the polymer. She and doubles teammate Madeleine Paolucci became the first All-Americans in program history in 2018.
“As a student-athlete at Case Western Reserve University, I had the unique opportunity to pursue my passion for tennis, but also to connect with my peers through Sustained Dialogue. I grew most from my experience as a moderator, learning how to create a safe environment for particpants to learn from one another by reshaping conflict as an opportunity for growth,” Kanagasegar said. “From the root cause analysis of people’s personal stories, we uncovered mental health challenges for student-athletes. I worked with the athletic director to mandate suicide prevention and awareness training for coaches and met with the University president, who plans to implement some of our proposed ideas.”
Cindy Cheng, Emory University: The three-time UAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year and 12-time NCAA Division III champion majored in human health and minored in sociology. Cheng swept every UAA event she swam in at the 2017 and 2018 UAA Swimming and Diving Championships, ending her career with 21 Association titles and 21 All-America honors. She worked as a research assistant at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health and as a Child Life Assistant at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Throughout her time at Emory, Cheng taught basic swim skills to those aged 1-12 and also coached teens and young adults with special needs through Special Olympics. In her senior year, she volunteered as a sexual assault peer advocate, providing guidance and resources to those seeking help dealing with sexual assault. Cheng spent four years on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was chosen to reach out to Emory student-athlete alumni.
“Emory University has given me more than a prestigious education and athletic accomplishments. I have been fortunate enough to make an impact in the community while competing in the sport I love,” Cheng said. “From volunteering weekly at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Special Olympics, I started to see the needs of the community and wanting to make a change for those who couldn’t accomplish it themselves. Helping empower them has demonstrated how important it is to strengthen a group rather than just an individual. These experiences not only changed my perspective, but also inspired me to continue my education in public health.”
Kaitlyn Read, New York University: The 2018 Josten’s Trophy recipient, Read completed her undergraduate degrees in politics and Spanish before earning her master’s degree in global affairs with a concentration in transnational security. She was part of the NYU women’s basketball team’s presence in the community, volunteering as a basketball clinic leader and with Race for the Cure, New York City Food Bank, Trick or Treat for Ill Children, Camp Dynamo in Italy, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and at a soup kitchen. Read earned first team CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2018 in addition to earning the Josten’s Trophy, which honors the top women’s basketball student-athlete in NCAA Division III while taking into account academic prowess and community service in addition to basketball ability. She earned first team All-Association honors four times, earning two Defensive Player of the Year honors and being named the 2017-18 UAA Player of the Year.
“As a senior when I sustained a season-ending injury, rather than becoming dejected, I became determined to again be a student-athlete and return to NYU to pursue my master’s degree,” Read said. “I studied in Barcelona to improve my Spanish and to learn more about European perspectives and interned for a New York City council member to become acquainted with the nuances of local government. I worked at an international non-profit organization that connected global leaders in different fields. These experiences have supplemented my NYU undergraduate education so that I have an arsenal of tools to positively impact international relations.”
Khia Kurtenbach, University of Chicago: The 2017 NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country national champion earned a degree in molecular engineering. As as undergraduate research assistant with the De Pablo Research Group, Kurtenbach presented at the University of Chicago Autumn Research Symposium, American Chemical Society Regional Conference, and Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Symposium. She was the vice-president of external outreach for the UChicago chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and belonged to Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity. Kurtenbach planned after-school science experiments and demonstrations for public elementary students in the Hyde Park area and served as a role model for at-risk students between the ages of 10 and 14 through the World Sport Chicago Athlete Ambassador Program. She earned UAA Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete honors in swimming, track, and cross country in her career that included six UAA titles and seven All-America honors.
“My experience on the cross country team drove home the lesson that a good team and common goals are critical components in pursuit of lofty goals,” Kurtenbach said. “Having never run cross country in high school, I knew almost nothing about the sport when I joined the team as a sophomore. My teammates and coaches did an excellent job providing advice on everything from proper shoes to how many miles I should run. It was a product of their support that I earned my first All-America honor that fall. After suffering three stress fractures in two years, I considered quitting cross country. I was motivated to push through because I knew that my team needed me to compete to help us qualify for the NCAA championship meet. Our team’s common goal of representing UChicago at the national meet helped me overcome my injury and become the NCAA Division III Cross Country champion.”