The NCAA has selected nine former college athletes as finalists for the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, which will be announced Oct. 18 during a ceremony in Indianapolis.
Three women from each NCAA division were selected. Their college careers are highlighted by outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.
The nine finalists are among 30 Woman of the Year honorees who will be recognized during the event. This group of 30 includes 10 honorees from each NCAA division and represents a range of sports. Schools nominated 480 college athletes for the 2015 award.
Following are biographies of this year’s Woman of the Year finalists, including excerpts from their personal statements in the nomination materials.
Supriya Davis, Swarthmore College
Majors: Chemistry; computer science
Sport: Swimming and diving
Hometown: Durham, North Carolina
Excerpt from personal statement: “Recently, I was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship and attribute my success largely to the leadership skills and work ethic that I have developed as a student-athlete. Through this incredible opportunity, I hope to continue sharing my love for swimming by teaching swim lessons in New Delhi, India, in the upcoming year, while applying my scientific curiosity to develop a rapid diagnostic assay for tuberculosis in order to protect lives in India and across the globe.”
Supriya Davis dove head first into community service projects while attending Swarthmore College. The swimmer spent three years volunteering with Children and Adults with Disabilities Educational Services, where she led activities involving art and physical education. Davis also visited regularly with local hospice patients and assisted the University of North Carolina Memorial Hospital emergency department staff with daily tasks. She also tutored fellow Swarthmore College students in chemistry, computer science and statistics.
A double major in chemistry and computer science, Davis earned multiple Capital One Academic All-District honors. In 2015, the Centennial Conference named her the Scholar Athlete of the Year and the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper named her the Academic All-Area Performer of the Year. In 2015, Davis was named a College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-American. Davis earned a Fulbright Scholarship to research tuberculosis in India.
Davis is a four-year letter winner for Swarthmore’s swimming and diving program and went undefeated all four years in dual meet competition in both the 100-meter and 200-meter butterfly. She holds 10 school records – six individual and four relay – and collected 79 first-place finishes in dual meets. Davis also broke eight conference and championship meet records, was named 17 times to the All-Centennial Conference team and was twice named an All-American.
Kristin Day, Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference
Major: Chemistry, concentrating in biochemistry
Sport: Swimming and diving
Hometown: Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania
Excerpt from personal statement: “I entered Clarion University to dive and took up the study of biochemistry, in which I studied with the same fervor that I approached my training in diving. … My desire to study the mysteries of the human body have led me to seek a career path in medicine. My training in diving has taught me to keep a positive attitude in the face of adversity and has given me the attributes to prepare me for the upcoming challenges.”
A two-year captain on the Clarion University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming and diving team, Kristin Day served one year on her campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She also served as chief financial officer for her family’s Ride for Research initiative, which has raised more than $60,000 for cancer research.
Day graduated with a degree in chemistry, concentrating in biochemistry, and a 4.0 grade-point average. In 2014, Day won the Elite 89 Award, presented to the college athlete competing at an NCAA championship with the highest GPA. She earned Capital One Division II Academic All-America of the Year honors in back-to-back years, and she received Clarion’s Undergraduate Award for Achievement in Organic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry. In 2015, Day also received the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Pete Nevins Award for Scholar Athlete of the Year. She is enrolled in medical school at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Day is an eight-time All-American and three-time NCAA national champion, winning in the 1-meter dive in 2014 and 2015, and the 3-meter dive in 2015 with an NCAA-record 539.35 points. In 2014, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America named her the Division II Diver of the Year. Day also competed internationally in the trampoline beginning in 2011, and won a gold medal at the Loule Cup in Portugal while representing the United States.
Margo Geer, University of Arizona
Major: Business management
Sport: Swimming and diving
Hometown: Milford Center, Ohio
Excerpt from personal statement: “I strive to be relentless in pursuit of my passions and serve to motivate others as they aspire to be the best at whatever they choose to be. My experiences have strengthened my fundamental values and I look forward to using what I’ve learned as I continue my journey.”
University of Arizona swimmer Margo Geer spent three years as captain of the women’s swimming and diving team, and volunteered for two years on Arizona’s campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She also embraced her leadership role in the community by volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club, hosting YMCA swimming clinics and participating in motivational speaking at local swim events.
Geer graduated cum laude with a degree in business management. She was recognized as a University of Arizona Golden Eagle awardee in 2014 and was named an Academic Champion all four years in college. Geer earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar Athlete All-America honors and Pac-12 Conference All-Academic honors in 2013 and 2014, in addition to being named the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2014.
The 27-time All-America swimmer won two national championships in the sprint freestyle. She was the Pac-12’s 2014 Tom Hansen Medal winner in recognition of demonstrating the “greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.” Geer also excelled in international waters, representing the United States on the national team beginning in 2012 and competing at the World Championships in Russia in 2015.
Kelsey Graham, Wheaton College (Illinois)
College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
Majors: Christian education and ministry, Spanish
Hometown: Wheaton, Illinois
Excerpt from personal statement: “As I leave Wheaton, I am heading to South Africa to use soccer as a tool to improve the lives of others, teaching them leadership and life skills while showing them the love of God. My ability to do this is much greater because of the lessons I have learned through this program. Thank you to Wheaton College and the NCAA for helping me to realize the potential this simple sport has in changing lives, as it has already changed mine.”
Kelsey Graham took on a leadership role at Wheaton College (Illinois) both on and off the soccer field. She was captain of the women’s soccer team her senior year and was the leader of a discipleship group for three years. In 2013, Graham directed a five-on-five tournament which raised funds for a sports ministry trip to Brazil and Paraguay in Partnership with Projeto Crescer (meaning “Project Grow” in Portuguese). She also taught Sunday school classes at Wheaton Bible Church and went to Honduras on a student-led trip, where she helped install a gravity-fed water system for a Honduran community.
Graham graduated with two degrees – Christian education and ministry, and Spanish – with a 3.64 grade-point average. She was named to the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Academic All-Conference team for four straight years, and received the CCIW Jack Swartz Award in 2013 and 2014 in recognition of her athletics and academics achievements. In 2015, she was Wheaton’s female honoree for the CCIW Merle Chapman Award for her commitment to academic, athletic and personal excellence.
On the field, Graham was a standout athlete. In 2011, she led her team to the NCAA championship game. In 2014, she was named the Division III Goalkeeper of the Year by D3soccer.com. She led all Division III goalkeepers in save percentage (.994) and ranked fourth in the nation in the goals-against average (.283). Graham ranks fourth in school history with 24 career shutouts, and fifth with a career goals-against average of 0.57.
Margaret MacPhail, DePauw University
North Coast Athletic Conference
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Excerpt from personal statement: “As a student-athlete, I gained tools to achieve my dreams, on and off the court. By virtue, athletes must be selfless and dedicated to succeed on a team. In all life endeavors, I find such attributes to be of paramount importance and to inspire me to reach for personal success, while following my passion to help others.”
Margaret MacPhail was an ace on and off the tennis court at DePauw University. She was team captain her senior year and worked as a first-year experience mentor, where she served as an advisor to 15 first-year students. MacPhail also served on the DePauw Student Philanthropy Committee and spent four years volunteering with the Team Riggle Foundation in its fundraising efforts to battle Parkinson’s disease.
MacPhail earned her undergraduate degree in biochemistry, and is working on her master’s in biology at Purdue University. She authored multiple articles regarding three research studies that focused on gastrointestinal health. She received the DePauw President’s Award for Excellence scholarship in all four years, and in 2013 she received the Condit Science and Mathematics Award. MacPhail is also a four-time United State Tennis Association/Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic Team honoree.
On the court, MacPhail led her team to four NCAA championship appearances, including a 2015 NCAA regional team championship. She participated in the 2013 Division III singles championships and in the 2014 and 2015 doubles championships. In 2015, MacPhail received the USTA/ITA Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award and the Amy Hasbrook Award, which recognizes the DePauw female senior student-athlete of the year.
Colleen Quigley, Florida State University
Atlantic Coast Conference
Sports: Cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Excerpt from personal statement: “All of my involvement on campus in the past four years has helped me hone in on one main skill: leadership. Reflecting on the community service I completed while at FSU, I noticed that I often served alongside fellow student-athletes, especially my own teammates. … I am confident these experiences, as well as many others with my team or organizations on campus, have shaped me into the person I am today and will propel me into success in life after college.”
Colleen Quigley was a team leader for her track and cross country teams. Quigley served three times as a team captain and for two years on Florida State University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She spearheaded an athletics department-wide Soles for Souls shoe drive, which collected shoes for the needy. Among many community service endeavors, she served as a delivery driver for Meals on Wheels and joined her cross country teammates for their annual Across the State Relay, which raised $20,000 for United Way of the Big Bend and Fanconi anemia.
Quigley studied dietetics at Florida State and graduated with honors after earning president’s list honors twice and dean’s list honors six times. She was recognized twice by Florida State with the Golden Torch Award for excellence in academics. She also received the Golden Nole Award twice in recognition of her contributions made on the field, in the classroom and in the community. She was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year for cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field, and earned Capital One Academic All-America honors in 2014 and 2015.
On the cross country course and the track, Quigley helped propel her team to multiple conference championships. The nine-time All-American won the 2015 national championship in the 3000-meter steeplechase with the third-fastest time in NCAA history. She was also recognized as the 2015 USTFCCCA Outdoor Women’s Track Scholar Athlete of the Year. Quigley holds three Florida State and ACC records on the track, and was named the 2013 ACC Women’s Cross Country and 2015 Women’s Outdoor Track Performer of the Year. She recently competed in the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, where she represented the United States in the women’s steeplechase final.
Zoë Scandalis, University of Southern California
Major: Political economy
Hometown: Escondido, California
Excerpt from personal statement: “Exhausted at day’s end, I would feel a sense of true accomplishment knowing I was finding my own path to my dreams, while encouraging and supporting the people around me to also dream big and work hard to make theirs come true. With each success I grew in confidence; with each attempt that fell short there was a lesson to be learned, an opportunity for growth, in wisdom and skill, persistence and resilience. For my girls and myself, the message was clear: don’t be afraid to fall, be like a ball and bounce back up!”
Zoë Scandalis was a natural leader for the University of Southern California tennis team. The two-year team captain served on the Provost’s Oversight Committee of Athletic Academic Affairs as a student-athlete representative and on the Trojan Athletic Senate. In 2012, she was the Southern California representative to the NCAA leadership forum. Scandalis also embraced a leadership role in the community, where she served as a mentor at a local middle school and continues to volunteer with Girl Up: United Nations Campaign for Adolescent Girls, where she focuses on the use of social media to advocate within India.
Scandalis graduated with a degree in political economy. In 2015, she received two prestigious university awards: the Gimble Award, presented to the student-athlete deemed most cooperative, and the Willis O’Hunter Award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average. Scandalis is a three-time Pac-12 Conference All-Academic honoree, and in 2014 was named Trojan of the Year in recognition of her achievements on the court and in the classroom.
A two-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American in singles and doubles tennis, Scandalis led her team to three Pac-12 titles and four NCAA tournament appearances. She also competed as an individual during the NCAA tournament. She earned six Pac-12 Player of the Week awards, a conference record. In 2012, Scandalis was named to the United States Tennis Association College Team, and in 2014 she was the ITA Southwest Region singles champion. She also won a gold medal at the 2012 BNP Paribas Master U Games as a member of Team USA.
Taylor Skala, Rockhurst University
Great Lakes Valley Conference
Major: Cell and molecular biology
Sports: Soccer, basketball
Hometown: Long Grove, Illinois
Excerpt from personal statement: “The opportunities that I have been blessed with in college have given me a solid foundation. The same values and skills that propelled me to excel in academics, athletics and service will allow me to succeed in my next journey as a caring physician assistant.”
Taylor Skala was a dual-sport athlete, competing in soccer and basketball all four years at Rockhurst University. In 2014-15, she was the women’s basketball team captain. She served on her campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as the vice president for marketing and spent an additional two years as chair of SAAC’s Make-A-Wish fundraising committee. In 2014, Skala volunteered to assist doctors with medical procedures in the Dominican Republic.
Skala studied cell and molecular biology and graduated with honors. She earned multiple academic accolades, including Capital One Academic All-America honors in 2014. Skala was named to the dean’s list every year and received the school’s Edward Kos Award for Academic Achievement in Cell and Molecular Biology. She was a member of multiple honor societies on campus, received the Chancellor’s Academic Scholarship and was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Fall Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2012.
Skala led Rockhurst’s women’s soccer team to three NCAA tournament appearances. In 2011, she was named the GLVC Freshman of the Year. Skala holds the school record for goals scored and career points, and in 2014 was named the Daktronics, Inc. Midwest Region Player of the Year. In basketball, Skala was a three-time honoree on the GLVC’s All-Defensive Team. In 2015, Skala became the first female student-athlete at Rockhurst to win the GLVC’s Richard F. Scharf Paragon Award, which recognized her as the league's female athlete of the year for displaying academic excellence, athletic ability and achievement, character and leadership.
Rebecka Surtevall, Arkansas Tech University
Great American Conference
Majors: Management, marketing
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Excerpt from personal statement: “Attending Tech has challenged me to explore my potentials, my strengths, my weaknesses, and improve these characteristics about myself. I have fallen short many times in college, but through community projects and my contacts with others, I have come to realize in order to impact and better the community and my surroundings, I have to strive to better myself. … Tech has influenced and helped me to strive to live my life to its fullest in order to explore who I am and who I want to become.”
Rebecka Surtevall, a golf student-athlete at Arkansas Tech University, served for one year as team captain and for three years on the campus Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In addition, she volunteered with several organizations, including a local animal shelter, local elementary school and a cleanup drive benefiting the Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Surtevall graduated with degrees in management and marketing and made the dean’s list every semester. She was twice named to the Great American Conference All-Academic team, and was recognized as a Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar for three straight years. In 2014, Surtevall received the College of Business Academic Excellence Award and in 2015 was named the Arkansas Tech Female Athlete of the Year.
In 2014, Surtevall placed third at the women’s golf national championships and was named an All-American. Surtevall also earned accolades from the GAC. In 2012, she was named the GAC Freshman of the Year. She was honored as the GAC Player of the Year three times. She was also a GAC championship tournament medalist in 2012 and 2014. Surtevall was honored as the 2014 GAC Female Athlete of the Year.