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NCAA names 2018 Byers Scholarship recipients

Oklahoma’s Carmichael, Harvard’s Seward to receive $24,000 grants

An NCAA committee has selected two college athletes as recipients of Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarships. Jennifer Carmichael, who was a thrower on the women’s track and field team at Oklahoma, earned her bachelor’s in chemical engineering in 2016 and will receive her master’s in global affairs this month. Michael Seward, who played on Harvard’s men’s ice hockey team, earned his bachelor’s in organismic and evolutionary biology in 2015 and is now a medical student at Harvard.

Established in 1988, the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship program each year awards $24,000 grants to one male and one female recipient. The grants can be renewed for a second year. Recipients chosen by the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship Committee are recognized as combining the best elements of mind and body to achieve national distinction for their achievements and to be future leaders in their chosen field of career service.

Jennifer Carmichael

Carmichael has prevailed in a number of challenging situations during college, starting with walking on to the track and field team at Oklahoma. Five years later, after earning an eighth-place finish in the discus throw at the Big 12 championships, she was honored as a Top Nine finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.

She also brought that ambition to her academics, thriving in the male-dominated engineering program and graduating summa cum laude. During the past year while completing her graduate studies at Oklahoma, she has worked as an engineer at ExxonMobil.

Carmichael, who will begin a Master of Business Administration program in the fall at Stanford, hopes to use her skills to become a champion for all women. She was especially inspired by the entrepreneurial women she met during a mission trip to Haiti. “As a girl who fought to walk on in athletics, I strive to give women that same opportunity in business,” she said.

Among numerous other volunteer efforts, Carmichael has sponsored four students in Haiti and a Peruvian girl. She also has mentored engineering students on campus and elementary and high school students through various organizations.

“Jenny truly stands out among her peers as one of the most motivated,” David L. Boren, president at Oklahoma, wrote in his recommendation of Carmichael. “She has a true passion for serving others. I believe that she will change the world around her in an impactful way.”

Michael Seward

As a Division I ice hockey player at Harvard, Seward realized good fuel could give him an edge. “I found that when I paid more attention to eating nutrient-rich foods, I noticed a considerable change in how I felt and functioned on and off the ice,” he said.

Since then, he has turned that desire to maximize his training into a passion for improving health and wellness. During his junior year, Seward developed traffic-light nutrition labels for a Harvard cafe. Green labels indicated nutrient-rich food; yellow cautioned eat less often; and red meant eat sparingly. He expanded the program to 12 campus cafeterias for his senior thesis, publishing the results in the American Journal of Public Health.

Seward also had a reputation on his team for being a natural leader and a disciplined worker. “His food choices in the dining halls and work ethic in the gym rubbed off on his teammates,” said Ted Donato, head coach of the men’s ice hockey team. “He became the go-to off-ice expert, frequently answering questions about the best breakfast before games or tips on the team strength and conditioning testing.”

Among his various service activities, Seward co-chaired the Harvard Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and he volunteered in Vietnam one summer, teaching physics to eighth- and ninth-grade students, often using sports to explore trajectory or acceleration.

Seward, who graduated magna cum laude in 2015, plans to pursue a career in clinical medicine that includes research and an active role in health policy.