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Michigan State Holds 15th Annual Spartan Academic Excellence Gala

Pat Williams, the Senior Vice President of the NBA's Orlando Magic, provided the keynote address on Monday night at the Spartan Academic Excellence Gala.

April 10, 2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State's Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) hosted the 15th annual Spartan Academic Excellence Gala on Monday night at the Kellogg Center. The evening recognized the academic success of the Spartan student-athletes during the 2011-12 school year.

Photo Gallery | Highlights

It was a record night for honorees as 294 MSU student-athletes, who are at least a sophomore in academic standing, were honored for achieving a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better. In addition, the MSU Athletics Department celebrated its highest athletic GPA ever of 3.03.

This year's distinguished keynote speaker was Orlando Magic's Senior Vice President Pat Williams. A veteran of nearly 50 years of professional basketball experience, Williams is thought by many as one of America's top motivational, inspirational and humorous speakers.

For the second straight year, the Academic Gala was grand sponsored by Dr. Bruce and Linda Cohen.

The President's Award, the night's most prestigious award, was presented to men's soccer's Garret Back and women's cross country/track & field's Emily Langenberg. The award recognizes the male and female graduating senior with the highest cumulative GPA and who has exhausted their eligibility in the 2011-12 school year.

A three-time Academic All-Big Ten and a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar selection, Back has already completed his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting with a 3.8 GPA and is pursuing his Masters of Science in accounting. In addition to his excellence in the classroom, Back has demonstrated leadership in the community as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Sigma Alpha Pi Society of Leadership and Success. Back has already accepted a job offer from KPMG and will move to Chicago in the fall.

Langenberg is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten and a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar choice, and maintains a 3.999 GPA while double majoring in studio art and English. She showcases her commitment to the community by actively participating in Student-Athlete Support Services' Putting Athletes and Community Together (PACT) program as well as University and community-driven outreach initiatives such as the Pen Pal program, MSU Safe Place Run and as a class tutor for English as a Second Language. Langenberg has several internships she is considering for the summer and plans to attend graduate school in the fall for either fine art of art conservation.

The men's tennis team and the women's golf program were honored with the Athletic Director's Awards for achieving the highest team cumulative GPA after the fall 2011 semester. Men's tennis and head coach Gene Orlando hold a 3.364 team GPA, and claim the award for the fifth-straight year and for a record eighth time. Meanwhile, the 2011 Big Ten Champion women's golf team, led by head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, boasts an impressive 3.468 cumulative GPA.

Bone cancer survivor and Spartan football student-athlete Arthur Ray Jr. was the recipient of the Multicultural Award, presented to the student-athlete who promotes inclusion as well as exhibits strong leadership in the areas of community service and diversity programming. After nine surgeries, four bongrafts, chemotherapy and two years on crutches, he was finally cleared to return to football last spring. The Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award winner has remained positive and is an inspiration to not only his tam, but student-athletes and cancer sufferers. With his infectious personality and commitment to young people, Ray has had an impact on organizing community outreach programs for SASS's Multicultural Program. Ray will graduate in December and pursue a career in communications.

Football's Keith Mumphery and volleyball's Kristen Kelsay were honored with the Harold & Raynor Shnider Office of the Provost Awards. The honor is presented to a freshman or sophomore student-athlete who embodies the characteristics promoted by Student-Athlete Support Services, with emphasis on academic performance, community involvement and leadership ability. Mumphery holds a 3.1 GPA as a marketing major, completing his first season with the Spartan football team this last fall appearing in all 14 games. He has been involved in outreach activities such as Chuck A Puck and the Great Dairy Adventure. Kelsay, a sophomore psychology major, carries a 3.775 GPA and led the Spartans in assists this past season. In the community, she is an active participant in the PACT program, including the Chuck A Puck, Family Fun Night and the Student-Athlete Food Drive.

Hockey's Trevor Nill was the winner of the Gwendolyn Norrell Community Service & Leadership Award. The award is presented to the student-athlete who best exemplifies the goals of the PACT (Putting Athletes and Community Together) program, excelling in the field of community service and outreach. Nill is the President of the 2011-12 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and is an active member in the Greater Lansing community, including the Spartan Buddies Program, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the Children's Miracle Network Telethon.

Finally, the Scholar-Athlete Awards were presented to the individual from each team who has reached at least junior academic status, has received a minimum of one varsity letter, and while meeting these requirements, maintains the highest cumulative grade point average on their team.

Baseball - Andrew Rademacher
Men's Basketball - Adreian Payne
Women's Basketball - Tracy Nogle
Men's Cross Country - Brett Burdick
Women's Cross Country - Emily Langenberg
Field Hockey - Corey Block
Football - Max Bullough
Men's Golf - Dave Ellis
Women's Golf - Caroline Powers
Gymnastics - Daneen Haba
Hockey - Brock Shelgren
Rowing- Breanne Walkowiak
Men's Soccer - Garret Back
Women's Soccer - Megan Pines
Softball - Brett Williams
Men's Swimming & Diving - Brian Akers
Women's Swimming & Diving - Kerry Sodonis
Men's Tennis - Christian Roehmer
Women's Tennis - Dana Guentert
Men's Track & Field - Derik Peterman
Women's Track & Field - Katherine Guikema
Volleyball - Jenilee Rathje
Wrestling - Nick Kaczanowski

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