The NCAA has selected Ohio Wesleyan swimmer David Gatz and Seattle Pacific runner Jessica Pixler as the recipients of the 2011 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarships. Gatz and Pixler each will receive renewable awards of $24,000.

The Byers Scholarships were established in 1988 and recognize the contributions of former NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Recipients must have a grade-point average of at least 3.5, demonstrate evidence of superior character and leadership, and show that participation in athletics has been a positive influence on their personal and intellectual development.

Gatz, a biochemistry, pre-professional zoology and pre-medicine major, graduated with a 3.91 GPA and plans to study pediatric medicine at Johns Hopkins. A Rhodes Scholarship finalist, Gatz enjoys coaching youth swimming in his spare time because it enables him to “continue the tradition of scholar athletics.”

Pixler is currently pursuing her master’s of English at Colorado. She plans to acquire a doctorate in English and teach at either the college or high school level.

Pixler, a track and cross country student-athlete, graduated with a 3.93 GPA. She advises current student-athletes to reach out to others for the support they need to be successful.

“Don’t be afraid to seek out help,” she said.

Pixler, who has battled injury in her athletics career, said the experience has taught her perseverance.

Each year a male and female student-athlete are selected to receive the award. Nominations for the scholarship will begin in October.