April 22, 2009

Craig Sheedy, an Honors College senior, is one of two winners of the annual Walter Byers Award for academic and athletic excellence.

Craig SheedyCraig Sheedy has received a national scholarship in recognition of his academic and athletic excellence.

University of Arizona senior Craig Sheedy has won one of the two annual Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarships given by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Sheedy and Amy Massey, a soccer player from the University of Southern California, were chosen from six finalists for the award.

The Walter Byers Award honors outstanding academic accomplishment, superior citizenship and evidence that participation in college athletics was a positive influence on students' personal and intellectual development. Sheedy and Massey each will receive a $24,000 scholarship.

Sheedy, a diver, is Arizona's first recipient of the award. He and Massey were chosen from six finalists by the NCAA Walter Byers Scholarship committee.

student in the UA Honors College, Sheedy carries a 4.0 grade point average in a challenging major, biochemistry and molecular biophysics, plus a second major in physiology and a minor in Spanish. He worked as a student researcher for three years through the UA Undergraduate Research Program in Biology, or UBRP, and is an officer in the biochemistry club. He was the outstanding senior in his major program and this year earned the UA's Freeman Medal, awarded annually to a top university student with extra-curricular, community and leadership potential. He also served as an ambassador and peer tutor in the athletics department.

Sheedy will graduate in May and plans to pursue a medical degree starting in August at Vanderbilt University.

He was a team co-captain in 2008-09, a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and winner of co-valedictorian honors at athletics' annual CATS Senior Awards Banquet earlier this month, along with citations for his community service and scholastic achievements. He was a first-team Pac-10 All-Academic honoree in 2009.

Sheedy is active in the community with service projects at the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Grace Home, both in Tucson, while also volunteering each week in the Tucson Medical Center pediatrics unit.

UA athletics director Jim Livengood said "Sheedy's honor is a substantial statement about all that is good in intercollegiate athletics. It's a tremendous personal achievement for him and a huge honor for The University of Arizona. We're proud of the many accomplishments of student-athletes each year, and this young man's Byers Scholarship is certainly at the top of the chart for 2008-09," Livengood said.

Massey helped the Trojans win the 2007 Women's College Cup in soccer and was voted "Trojan of the Year" by fellow student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff for her classroom and athletic achievements. Massey started a recycling program in the USC athletics department to raise awareness and money for Water Wells for Africa, and was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist in 2008. She will pursue a master's degree at the University of Oxford and play for the Oxford Football Club.

The Byers award was established in 1988 to recognize the contributions of Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA, and was developed to encourage excellence in academic performance by student-athletes.

A Byers Scholar is recognized as an individual who has combined the best elements of academic and athletic achievement to earn national distinction for his or her accomplishments, and who promises to be a future leader in his or her chosen field. Award recipients are required to have at least a 3.5 grade-point average (4.0 scale).

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