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Celebrating the 2016 Graduates

Commencement marks end of athletics careers for most

Nearly half a million college athletes compete while pursuing an education, and each spring thousands of them receive their diplomas. It’s a moment to celebrate.

Only a fraction of student-athletes will go on to play professionally. For most, graduation marks the end of their athletics careers. They will use the lessons learned along the way to pursue careers in medicine, communications, education, business, athletics administration and many more fields.

Additionally, in the past 12 years, more than 14,000 former college athletes who left school without graduating have returned to campus to earn degrees. NCAA rules allow schools to fund scholarships for these returning students, and many of them come back. Also, the NCAA established a degree-completion award program to help former college athletes graduate. The award provides an amount equivalent to tuition and fees and a book allowance.

This month, we celebrate all student-athlete graduates. By competing in college sports, they have learned important skills such as leadership, time management and teamwork, which will prepare them for life after graduation. These college athletes succeeded on the field and in the classroom. Now it’s time for them to conquer the next chapter in their lives.

Celebrating the 2016 graduates

Ernie Durazo

The former University of Arizona baseball player returned to school to finish an undergraduate degree 20 years in the making.

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Caroline Warden

Caroline Warden has evolved from a walk-on to a scholarship basketball player to a graduate set to begin a career at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

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Nolan Paige and Maciek Romanowicz

The Stanford University men’s tennis doubles partners will continue their education on divergent paths after graduation. Maciek Romanowicz is headed to Harvard Business School, and Nolan Paige will attend Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

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Katelyn MacLeay

The senior biology major and volleyball captain is Angelo State University’s top graduate and was granted early acceptance to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine.

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Seminoles men’s basketball

Earning a degree caps the career highlights for each member of the Florida State University senior men’s basketball class.

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Rachel Hall

Though she officially graduated in 2015, Temple University women’s lacrosse alum Rachel Hall will participate in commencement steps this May after surviving life-threatening injuries from a hit-and-run accident.

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Esther Gomez

Eight years after earning her bachelor’s and completing a tour of duty as a Marine, Gomez enrolled full-time as a master’s student at the University of Dallas where she also competed in women’s lacrosse.

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Daisy-May Kenny

The University of West Florida golfer found that her swing enhanced her passion in the research lab as an exercise science major.

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Jamie Rogalski

The Hope College volleyball player will benefit from an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, continuing her education after earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology.

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