VERMILLION — The NCAA has selected South Dakota track and field student-athlete Alexa Duling as the female recipient of the 2013 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. Duling will receive a renewable $24,000 scholarship while attending medical school at Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix.
The Walter Byers Scholarship is awarded annually to one male and one female NCAA student-athlete in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and potential for future success. Winthrop soccer player Matt Horn was named the male recipient.
“This is an unbelievable feeling and I am truly honored to receive this award,” said Duling. “This is the culmination of what I have accomplished as an athlete and as a student at USD and offers support in the career goals that I have set for myself.”
“I could not be more proud of Alexa,” added USD Athletics Director David Herbster. “This award goes well beyond her athletic abilities and speaks to her academic achievements and her character. Alexa winning this award conveys a message that South Dakota student-athletes can and will continue to compete for both academic and athletic excellence on a national level.”
To be eligible for consideration, a nominee must be a graduating senior or enrolled in graduate study at an NCAA member institution. Winners must have attained an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5, competed on a varsity team at an NCAA member school, evidenced superior character and leadership, and demonstrated that participation in athletics and community service positively influenced the recipient’s personal and intellectual development.
The program is administered by a committee of representatives from NCAA member schools and conferences. The winners were selected through a competitive process that included in-person interviews with six finalists – three men and three women.
A native of Gregory, Duling is in her fifth year at USD, where she majored in biology with a minor in economics and is finishing her MBA. She has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
On the track, Duling has earned All-America honors in the 400-meter hurdles and qualified for the Olympic Trials in the event. She earned Academic All-America honors in 2012 and was named Great West Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2011 — the league’s highest individual honor.
“My staff and I are proud of what Alexa has accomplished during the last five years,” said USD women’s track and field coach Lucky Huber. “She exemplifies everything that is good about collegiate athletics.”
In addition to her accomplishments on and off the field, Duling is a volunteer for Girls on the Run, hospice volunteer and lector at her local diocese. She has been a member of South Dakota’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and has participated in various service activities through her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
During her undergraduate career, Duling shadowed several physicians. Observing a physician at the Indian Health Service Hospital on the Rosebud Reservation ignited a passion for serving that community and Duling plans to return to the reservation to serve patients in need of skilled care.
“The Native American culture is so beautiful,” said Duling. “My undergraduate thesis was on Native American healing and it provided an interesting twist on health care.”
Other finalists for Walter Byers Scholar included Western Washington’s Audrey Coon, who was a member of three NCAA Division II national champion rowing teams, and Washington University runner Elizabeth Phillips, who was named 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year.