Recipients of the Top 10 Scholar-Athletes Award with Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham
Recipients of the Top 10 Scholar-Athletes Award with Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham
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Tar Heels Celebrate Academic Success
Release: 05/07/2017
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – UNC honored outstanding years and phenomenal careers on Wednesday at the fourth-annual Scholar-Athlete Academic Luncheon. Held at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center and hosted by Carolina Athletics and the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, the event recognized student-athletes who earned academic honors during the spring 2016 and fall 2016 semesters and also highlighted those who have achieved at the highest level throughout their time at UNC.

The event's highlight was the presentation of Top 10 Scholar-Athlete Awards, which go to the graduating seniors (five men and five women) with the highest cumulative grade point averages. Due to unusual circumstances, this year's group actually included 11 student-athletes:

Alexis Amato (Rowing)

Ezra Baeli-Wang (Men's Fencing)

Hayley Carter (Women's Tennis)

Christian Caveness (Men's Swimming & Diving)

Luke Ciocca (Men's Soccer)

Abby Fisher (Women's Swimming & Diving)

Sarah Howard (Women's Track & Field)

Katie McKay (Women's Swimming & Diving)

Sam Miner (Men's Cross Country/Track & Field)

David October (Men's Soccer)

Lucas Popp (Men's Swimming & Diving)

A total of 187 student-athletes, including those 11, were honored as Tar Heel Scholar-Athletes for achieving a GPA of 3.2 or better in both the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 semesters. Additionally, 34 students were honored as members of the 4.0 Club for having achieved perfect grades in the Spring 2016 or Fall 2016 semesters. Three – Alexis Amato (rowing), Zack Olofson (men's soccer) and Frances Reuland (women's soccer) – earned 4.0s in both semesters.

Also noted and applauded were awards previously announced, including NCAA Elite 90, ACC Scholar-Athletes of the Year, Academic All-America and All-District, Athletic Director's Scholar-Athletes, All-ACC Academic teams, ACC Weaver-James-Corrigan Postgraduate Scholarships and Phi Beta Kappa induction.

Each of the Top 10 Scholar-Athletes invited a professor or advisor to the luncheon, and all seniors in attendance had the option of inviting a faculty guest, so approximately 30 faculty members attended the lunch. Provost James Dean, one of the afternoon's speakers, recognized the faculty members present and also congratulated members of the men's and women's lacrosse and women's tennis teams, which won Atlantic Coast Conference three days earlier. “I appreciate how hard you work to achieve both academic and athletic excellence,” he told the students.

Each of the Top 10 Scholar-Athlete honorees spoke, introducing his or her invited guest and in most cases giving a bit of advice to the younger student-athletes in the crowd.

Alexis Amato, Easton Pa., Majoring in Health Policy and Management

Amato invited Aimee McHale, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. Amato spoke about how McHale inspired her academic path, and she gave this advice to underclassmen: “It's never too late to do what you love and it's not against the law to change your mind.”

Ezra Baeli-Wang, Hillsborough, N.J., Majoring in Asian Studies and Peace, War & Defense

Baeli-Wang invited philosophy professor Douglas MacLean and spoke about the impact that MacLean's class, Ethics of Peace, War and Defense, has had on him. “The most important thing you can experience here at UNC is to have your core beliefs challenged,” Baeli-Wang said in encouraging students to expose themselves to differing opinions and to surround themselves with people who will make them better.

Hayley Carter, Hilton Head, S.C., Majoring in Economics

Carter invited Patrick Conway, Professor and Department Chair in Economics, and spoke about the impact that Conway, her Econ 101 professor when she was a freshman, had on her decision to choose that major. Her advice to younger students was to ask questions (“Don't be afraid to speak up”) and be thankful (“Think of those who have made an impact on you”).

Christian Caveness, Wilmington, N.C., Majoring in Chemistry

Caveness invited Spencer Welborn, an academic advisor and assistant dean, and offered the advice of being sure to utilize academic advisors. 

Luke Ciocca, Chapel Hill, N.C., Majoring in Business and History

Ciocca invited Sandeep Rath, Assistant Professor of Operations at Kenan-Flagler Business School, and also thanked his coaches and family. Ciocca has another semester at UNC and will graduate in December.

Abby Fisher, Kinnelon, N.J., Majoring in Nutrition

Fisher invited Kyle Burger, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition who served as her research advisor and also took the time to attend her final swim meet. Fisher's advice was to step out of one's comfort zone and try new things. “Carolina has so much to offer outside of your experience as a student-athlete,” she said.

Sarah Howard, Dublin, Ga., Majoring in Biology and Religious Studies

Howard invited Nathan Schradle, a graduate student in the Department of Religious Studies, who taught a “Religion and Science” class that merged Howard's two majors. After noting the challenges sometimes involved with bringing those topics together, she spoke of the things she'd learned from collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds, both academically and on the track team.

Katie McKay, Holmdel, N.J., Majoring in Biology and Psychology

McKay invited Stacey Daughters, an associate professor in the psychology department who served as her thesis advisor. McKay spoke about her decision to come to UNC as a walk-on, and her experience being involved in research at Carolina, even when her schedule was hectic. Her advice? “Challenge yourself to find mentors and role models in areas you're passionate about.”

Sam Miner, Chapel Hill, N.C., Majoring in Business and History

Miner invited Jackie Fritsch, who serves as an advisor in the Kenan-Flagler Undergraduate Business Program. He encouraged underclassmen to make the most of their time at UNC and specifically to investigate the Phillips Ambassadors program, through which he studied in Hong Kong during the summer of 2016. (Baeli-Wang was also a Phillips Ambassador during his time at UNC.) Miner borrowed a popular phrase as his parting words of encouragement.

“Remember,” he told the crowd, “the ceiling is the roof.”

David October, Cambridge, England, Majoring in Business

October invited Courtney Porter, also an advisor within Kenan-Flagler Business School.  He spoke of the value of the people at UNC and the relationships he has built, saying, “I look around this room and see so many people I've been inspired by.”

Lucas Popp, Wichita, Kansas, Majoring in Exercise and Sport Science

Popp invited Meredith Petschauer, a professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science who also works with the Sports Medicine program at UNC. “The path can be challenging, but remember: you've been provided with every tool to succeed,” said Popp, who not only has excelled academically, but who proved his musical talents in a piano performance at UNC's recent Rammy Awards.

 UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham wrapped up the afternoon with recognition of department and campus partners who have supported the student-athletes as they achieved the success for which they were honored.

4.0 Club for Spring 2016

Alexis Amato (Rowing), Emma Astrike-Davis (Women's Cross Country), Tom Bilden (Men's Swimming & Diving), Rachel Black (Field Hockey), Nils Bruening (Men's Soccer), Hayley Carter (Women's Tennis), Alicia Chen (Women's Fencing), Paige Colpo (Rowing), Alex Comsia (Men's Soccer), Kelly Devlin (Women's Lacrosse), Blissie Du Bose (Field Hockey), Mallory Frysinger (Women's Lacrosse), Ally Hardesty (Women's Swimming & Diving), Annie Harrison (Women's Swimming & Diving), Elizabeth Haus (Women's Lacrosse), Robert Henderson (Wrestling), Jackie Kenny (Rowing), Zack Olofson (Men's Soccer), Frances Reuland (Women's Soccer), Houston Summers (Men's Track & Field), Alex Utley (Wrestling), Shelley Warner (Rowing), Carly Wooten (Women's Fencing)

4.0 Club for Fall 2016

Alexis Amato (Rowing), Jon Beyle (Men's Track & Field), Abby Fisher (Women's Swimming & Diving), Caitlin Gallant (Women's Fencing), Sarah Howard (Women's Track & Field), Abby Hudspeth (Rowing), Amanda Lalezarian (Women's Fencing), Morgan Lane (Gymnastics), Jessica Lynch (Women's Lacrosse), Joey Mangili (Football), Katie McKay (Women's Swimming & Diving), Zack Olofson (Men's Soccer),  AJ Rechenmacher (Wrestling), Frances Reuland (Women's Soccer), Hunter Sheridan (Football).

Tar Heel Scholar-Athletes (Spring 2016, Fall 2016)


Brendan Illies


Luke Maye

Aaron Rohlman


Logan Carroll

Sam Miner

Joe Sansone

Nick Walker


Caroline Alcorta

Blake Dodge

Lauren Moody


Ezra Baeli-Wang

Matthew Garrelick

Michael Gopman Slonim

Ian Head

Theophilus Onigbinde

Matthew Shlimak

Jason Xu


Alicia Chen

Samantha Galina

Sarah Hanvy

Amanda Lalezarian

Sydney Persing


Kristy Bernatchez

Emma Bozek

Marissa Creatore

Blissie Du Bose

Leila Evans

Malin Evert

Halle Frain

Morgan Goetz

Alex Grant

Catherine Hayden

Mackenzie Mick

Sam Night

Ali Rushton

Julia Young


Thomas Brown

Zach Goins

Tolson Jeffrey

Chris Ripberger

Jacob Schmidt


Davis Bateman

Henry Do

Ben Griffin

Joshua Martin

Zach Martin

William Register

Tailin Song


Lexi Harkins

Bryana Nguyen

Kelly Whaley

Cheni Xu


Jamie DeCicco

Kaitlynn Hedelund

Morgan Lane

Madison Nettles

Lauren Weisel


Alex Bassil

Bug Carper

Mike D'Alessandro

Luke Goldstock

Riley Graham

Jack Halpert

Cole Haverty

Stephen Kelly

Peyton Klawinski

Andy Matthews

William McBride

Jake Peden

Austin Pifani

Jordan Prysko


Gianna Bowe

Carly Davis

Elizabeth Haus

Ela Hazar

Katie Kinsey

Naomi Lerner

Marie McCool

Sophie McCoy

Kayla Miles

Alex Moore


Alexis Amato

Caitlin Beakes

Egan Berne

Paige Colpo

Adelaide Cooke

Morgan Donnelly

Devin Finney

Caeli Harr

Kate Hickert

Margaret High

Samantha Hoelzer

Kathryn Johnson

Jackie Kenny

Madelyn Krebs

Ashley Laws

Maggie Lusk

Allie Martin

Maddie Omeltchenko

Arielle Patra

Alexa Postiglione

Jessica Schmitz

Stephanie Wangerin

Kelly Williams

Mallory Young


Nils Bruening

Will Campbell

Luke Ciocca

Alex Comsia

Dominic Jensen

David October

Zack Olofson

Drew Romig

Johan Welch

Nick Williams


Julia Ashley

Dorian Bailey

Joanna Boyles

Megan Buckingham

Cameron Castleberry

Jenny Chiu

Nicole Crutchfield

Sarah Ashley Firstenberg

Hanna Gardner

Annie Kingman

Darcy McFarlane

Kate Morris

Frances Reuland

Jessie Scarpa

Madison Schultz


Kendra Lynch


Josh Beals

Tom Bilden

Bailey Burt

Noah Cairns

Christian Caveness

Lucas Popp

Patrick Riess

Austin Sellers


Macey Arnold

Caroline Baldwin

Kate Boyer

Liliana Casso

Robyn Dryer

Abby Fisher

Katie Ford

Caty Hulsey

Sarah Koucheki

Maria Lohman

Andi Mack

Katie McKay

Katie Munch

Qian Yi Pang

Emily Slabe


Blaine Boyden


Jessie Aney

Hayley Carter

Maggie Kane

Chloe Ouellet-Pizer


RJ Alowonle

Paul Haley

Jared Martin

Drew Pedersen

Darryl Shaw


Amanda Benninghoff

Anna Eaton

Janice Ezenwa

Emily Godwin

Nicole Greene

Sarah Howard

Tory Kemp

Nicole Kiszenia

Sam Miller


Abigail Curry

Mia Fradenburg

Taylor Leath


Benjamin Cournoyer

Bryant Halsch

Alex Mina

Michael Silk

UNC North Carolina Academics

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