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Department Honors Top Academic Athletes at Annual Celebration

large group of people standing together

(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – In its 10th year celebrating academic and athletic achievement, the Carnegie Mellon Department of Athletics welcomed faculty and staff to the annual Student-Athlete Academic Achievement Celebration to honor 35 of the highest-achieving juniors and seniors across all colleges and athletics teams on Wednesday. The celebration is always held on Reading Day during finals week.

This year’s honorees carry a cumulative average grade-point average of 3.87 and nine hold a perfect 4.0. The student-athletes honored were joined by their professors and academic advisors.

Director of Athletics Josh Centor opened the program and noted that student-athletes make the Carnegie Mellon community stronger by their academic performance, athletic commitment and impact on others.

“I am interested in a program that demonstrates that students have passions that are outside of their academic areas, and they pursue those passions because they aren’t quite whole without them,” said Centor. “I am interested in athletics being a critical part of the academic environment, and for student-athletes to model the way for how we can achieve more balance in our lives.”

Centor spoke about the recent successes in the fields of competition, with the Tartan programs achieving new heights year after year. But he clearly wanted to celebrate more.

“Winning is great, winning is important. But how you compete, and what you represent while you compete and win, is what makes this program, and you, so easy to celebrate,” said Centor. “Today’s celebration serves as a reminder of what we are about, and what we value. We are celebrating the highest-achieving student-athletes at our great institution.”

Provost Jim Garrett praised the honorees for their ability to balance an athletics schedule with a rigorous education and a commitment to service to their community.

“You’re here today because you’re academically one of the highest-performing athletes on our campus, and in fact, you’re one of the highest-performing students on our campus,” said Garrett. “I appreciate your hard work and hope you take a moment to realize how truly amazing your accomplishments are.”

Senior women’s swimming and diving athlete Erica Iizuka and men’s soccer athlete Diederik Schlingemann represented the students.

woman speaking at a podium Iizuka recalled her collegiate career starting in the midst of COVID restrictions with masks and no outside competition but focused on the family of hard-working, kind students who supported her through her four-year journey.

“That year really shaped how I viewed Tartan Athletics, and it shaped how I’ve grown as a teammate and leader on the team,” said Iizuka. “It’s always been extremely important to me that every athlete knows that they are welcomed and supported by their teammates, regardless of how young, how fast, or how smart they are, and they should constantly strive to do the same for everyone around them.

“Overall, I think it’s incredibly rare to have such a large group of individuals who are so accomplished in every area, while being such genuinely good people,” said Iizuka. “But I think this is what makes CMU so amazing, and that’s why I’m so very grateful, honored, and proud to be a part of Tartan Athletics.”

Schlingemann pointed out the time management skills and strength for accountability he and his fellow student-athletes show daily while achieving so much during the grind that is CMU.

man speaking at a podium “The student-athletes here are mentally tough enough to excel both at school and in sport because of the lifestyle we’ve experienced so far,” said Schlingemann. “And the accountability and coachability skills we’ve gained will be valuable in shaping our future lives.”

Iizuka and Schlingemann are mechanical engineering students who are members of Tau Beta Pi with Schlingemann serving as president, and both will return to CMU to complete their master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

This year’s honorees include the following student-athletes:

College of Engineering:
Leo Badaker – Senior – Men’s Swimming and Diving
Billy Boucuvalas – Junior – Men’s Soccer
Stephen Dai – Senior – Men’s Golf
Alyssa Hoffman – Junior – Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field
Erica Iizuka – Senior – Women’s Swimming and Diving
Andrew McGovern – Senior – Men’s Track and Field
Dustin Moss – Senior – Football
Catherine Or – Junior – Women’s Basketball
Diederik Schlingemann – Senior – Men’s Soccer
Jolie Wasserman – Junior – Women’s Track and Field

Dietrich College:
Ethan Chen – Senior – Football
JoJo Huczko – Senior – Women’s Track and Field
Gemma Jefferson – Junior – Women’s Soccer
Taylor Symonette – Junior – Women’s Track and Field
Ethan Vertal – Senior – Men’s Soccer

Information Systems:
Zoe Angell – Junior – Women’s Tennis
Ben Condemi – Junior – Football
Kelli Kuramoto – Senior – Women’s Swimming and Diving
Nicholas Wernink – Senior – Men’s Tennis
Kaylin Yeoh – Junior – Women’s Golf

Mellon College of Science:
Nathan Deyak – Junior – Men’s Track and Field
Emma Kulbida – Junior – Women’s Swimming and Diving
Maya McAuley – Senior – Women’s Swimming and Diving
Charlie Murphy – Senior – Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field 

School of Computer Science:
Eamon Brady – Junior – Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field
Ruby Redlich – Senior – Women’s Swimming and Diving
Abbey Reese – Junior – Softball
Austin Weltz – Senior – Men’s Track and Field 

Tepper School of Business:
Libby Eichberger – Junior – Softball
Eli Kampine – Junior – Men’s Soccer
Aidan Murphy – Junior – Men’s Basketball
Denise Pan – Senior – Women’s Golf
Cole Record – Senior – Football
Avani Seshiah – Senior – Volleyball
Derek Wong – Senior – Men’s Tennis