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"I’m definitely not a perfect person."

Anna Kottkamp would prefer not to be labeled a perfect example of a student-athlete, even if she is the first from the University of Notre Dame to be named valedictorian of a graduating class. But her successes are certainly an example to uphold. Kottkamp walked on to the rowing team as a freshman with no experience, yet finished with a full scholarship. In between, the environmental science major volunteered at a medical clinic for low-income families, performed research in Bolivia and interned in Peru. She also performed with the university’s Voices of Faith Gospel Choir and volunteered with several area nonprofit groups. After finishing her undergraduate degree with a 4.0 GPA, she’ll now return to her native Pacific Northwest to do environmental outreach work with fifth-graders in Oregon while planning for her graduate and doctoral studies. Her hope: to have a job where she can improve the lives of others. That drive has come not from perfection, but determination. “I’ve just been supported to pursue things I love that have allowed me to excel.”

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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