Newberry’s Nakawatase wins NCAA degree completion award

NEWBERRY — Newberry College softball student-athlete Casey Nakawatase has been named as a 2015 recipient of the NCAA Division II Degree Completion Award.

Nakawatase (Lincolnwood, Ill.) recently completed her four-year softball career at Newberry as a member on the team which finished fourth in the South Atlantic Conference in 2015 after being predicted to finish 12 in the league. Nakawatase and the softball team volunteered at the Springfield Place nursing home in Newberry and the Pomaria Food Bank.

Away from the softball diamond, Nakawatase is an early childhood education major with an emphasis in elementary education. She will complete her degree following her student teaching in the fall semester. She is also a member of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority.

The NCAA established the Division II Degree Completion Award Program in 2001 to provide deserving student-athletes financial assistance for them to complete their first baccalaureate degree. Candidates will be students who have exhausted their athletics eligibility and have received athletics financial aid.

The selection process for the national award emphasizes the academic performance of the student-athlete. Other factors considered are financial circumstances, athletic achievement and involvement in campus and community activities.

To date, nearly $4 million has been given to approximately 1,000 deserving student-athletes. Of those student-athletes who have received the award since its inception, 94 percent have earned their undergraduate degree using this program.