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Shepherd University graduate student awarded NCAA scholarship

ISSUED: 5 April 2023

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The NCAA has awarded Shepherd University graduate student Aly Nazarok its Postgraduate Scholarship. Nazarok is one of 21 female athletes who played sports in fall 2022 to receive the $10,000 scholarship, awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and are at least in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition.

“I am delighted for Aly, as this award recognizes how much she has given to Shepherd in terms of her leadership on campus and on her soccer team, her heart for service, and her commitment to academic excellence,” said Dr. Sam Greene, goalkeeper coach and chair, Department of Political Science. “Only 21 female athletes received this award for fall sports from across all three NCAA divisions. Given that about 30,000 women compete in women’s soccer alone each year, this is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Women’s soccer team head coach Sam Odell said Nazarok is an excellent candidate for the award given her consistent positive attitude and leadership on and off the field.

“I am elated that she has received such a prestigious award, and really think it exemplifies her importance to Shepherd University through her contribution both athletically and academically,” Odell said. “Aly has displayed strong leadership characteristics and shown considerable growth as a player and a person—which makes it no coincidence that she has had an immense role in the soccer program’s growth. I am confident Aly will continue to do excellent things in her professional life and am excited to see her continue to succeed at everything she puts her mind to.”

Photo of Aly Nazarok standing in front of Relay For Life banner smiling with her arms crossed.

Nazarok, an Appalachian studies graduate student from Northfield, New Jersey, credits both Greene and Odell with helping her win the scholarship.

“It was nice that they helped me grow through my senior year and fifth year on the team,” Nazarok said. “I feel like I’m always trying to change and be better, but they’ve both really helped me excel as a leader and pushed me to get involved in things.”

Nazarok, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in political science at Shepherd, has leadership experience both on and off the soccer field. She served as a team captain and was involved in Student Government Association, Model UN, Stubblefield Civility Club, Young Democrats, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.

Nazarok is a McMurran Scholar, the highest academic honor bestowed by the University. She was a finalist for the 2021 Truman Scholarship by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and represented the state of West Virginia during the Henry Clay Center College Student Congress May 24-28, 2021. Nazarok’s soccer career earned her the 2022 CSC Academic All-District Honor and 2020-21 CoSIDA Academic All-District Honor.

Nazarok hopes to leverage both her political science and Appalachian studies degrees into a career that allows her to have a positive impact on the Appalachian region either through economic development or nonprofit work in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

“It’s been a difficult journey for me being a political science major,” Nazarok said. “I’m interested in everything. I want to help in every way, and I’ve been in love with West Virginia since I got here.”

Nazarok is the graduate assistant for student community service in Shepherd’s Office of Student Affairs where she oversees programs such as Relay For Life, Make-A-Wish, and the Campus Cares donation drives. She is also a substitute teacher in Washington County, Maryland, public schools. She says earning the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship will allow her to finish her graduate studies debt free.

“When I graduate, I’ll be able to accept any kind of job I want,” she said. “I won’t be limited to accepting a job that pays a certain salary because I’ll have to pay back a loan. It’s giving me the freedom to take a nonprofit job that may not be the highest paying right out of my graduate career. I’m feeling really fortunate that I’ll have open options.”

Opportunities to apply for scholarships such as the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship are made possible through the Paul and Lisa Welch Distinguished Awards Program at Shepherd. The program was established to provide targeted assistance to Shepherd students and faculty preparing for competitive prestigious scholarships, fellowships, and award programs such as Gilman, Fulbright, Rhodes, and MacArthur. For more information, contact Dr. Samuel Greene, assistant professor of political science and director of study abroad.

About the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage graduate education by rewarding the Association’s most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports. Athletics and academic achievements, campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership are evaluated.  An equitable approach is employed in reviewing an applicant’s nomination form to provide all student-athlete nominees an opportunity to receive the graduate award, regardless of sport, division, gender, or race.  In maintaining the highest broad-based standards in the selection process, the program aims to reward those individuals whose dedication and effort are reflective of those characteristics necessary to succeed and thrive through graduate study.

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