You are here

NCAA names two Jim McKay Scholarship winners

Award is presented to students who embody the values of Jim McKay as they pursue careers in the sports communication field

The NCAA has selected Cierra Burdick, a communication studies major from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who competed in basketball, and Cristian Gonzalez Mendez, a public relations major from Florida State University who competed in tennis, as recipients of the Jim McKay Scholarship.

The scholarship was started to honor Jim McKay, one of the most prominent figures in sports journalism. One female and one male student-athlete are each awarded $10,000 for  outstanding academic performance and are encouraged to pursue a career in the sports communication industry.

Cierra Burdick

No stranger to success, Burdick has earned her share of athletic and academic honors.  Burdick served as team captain for the Lady Volunteers and was also a Southeastern Conference All-Tournament team honoree.

Aside from her accomplishments on the court, Burdick was named a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars in 2012.

Though Burdick has impressed with her academic and athletic achievements, she was also heavily involved in the community. She founded the University of Tennessee DREAM Team, whose mission is to help youth remain free of drugs, alcohol, tobacco and violence.

“We serve as role models and mentors in the Knoxville community while conducting numerous positive outreach programs in neighboring school and nonprofit organizations,” Burdick said.

In addition to promoting a positive student-athlete image, Burdick worked closely with the Water Angels Ministries, where she served as a mentor to help provide a safe place for Knoxville youth to worship.

Burdick graduated with a GPA of 3.86 and plans to pursue a master’s degree in sports journalism. She has sent applications to Northwestern University, Boston University and DePaul University, among others.

Cristian Gonzalez Mendez

Cristian Gonzalez Mendez began playing tennis only nine years ago, but he has left his mark on the Florida State program.

Mendez has earned several distinctions and awards that set him apart from his teammates over the past four years. In 2014, he went 27-8 in singles and secured a spot on the school’s top-10 list for single-season victories.  Mendez also ranked No. 65 nationally in 2014.

In academicss, Mendez achieved the Florida State President’s List or Dean’s List a total of seven semesters.  Mendez has also made a difference in the community. Most notably, Mendez was a volunteer for Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, where he worked to create campaign strategies for a statewide voter referendum.

Mendez also worked in the community, teaching children essential tennis skills. He mentored at the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend, helping kids with their homework.

Following graduation, Mendez hopes to pursue a graduate degree in integrated marketing communication at Florida State.