Two Nebraska student-athletes – Emily Wong and Spencer Long – have been chosen as the 2014 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award recipients by the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership. The award is an annual scholarship recognizing one male and one female Big Ten senior student-athlete pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership.
In recognition of the Big Ten’s leadership in fully integrating athletics into the academic mission of its member institutions, the Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership initiated the Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award in 2008. Each Big Ten institution was asked to nominate one male and one female student-athlete for 2013, with a $10,000 scholarship awarded to each winner.
The Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award is named for the former Big Ten Conference commissioner who served from 1971-89. While leading the Big Ten, Duke spent much of his time working to improve academic standards and graduation rates for student-athletes. The award is made possible by donations from local corporations and individuals supporting collegiate student-athletes. The Indianapolis Big Ten Community Partnership is comprised of the State of Indiana, City of Indianapolis, Indiana Sports Corp, Pacers Sports & Entertainment, and Visit Indy.
Wong, a women’s gymnastics student-athlete, is completing her nutrition science degree and psychology/child, youth and family studies minor at the University of Nebraska and expects to graduate in December, 2014. With a 3.918 GPA and numerous academic accolades, she intends to continue her education to become a physical therapist.
Wong has been recognized with multiple Academic All-Big Ten accolades and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards as well as National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches First Team and Scholastic All-America honors. She is an elected member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
In addition to her commitment to academic excellence, Wong’s passion for helping those in need is shown through her involvement in numerous community service activities. She has participated in multiple cancer awareness walks and has spent numerous hours helping children by reading books, playing games, sharing in Christmas parties, distributing toys and candy, and spreading joy by spending full days of fun-filled activities with them around town. Her passion for helping others came from watching her parents establish relationships at their family-run restaurant at a young age. After the recent passing of her father, she became fully committed to continue his legacy by helping people reach their full potential and to making an impact on their lives.
Long recently graduated in December, 2013, with a biological sciences degree and minors in humanities in medicine and psychology at the University of Nebraska. Long finished with a 3.792 GPA and a number of academic honors. He intends to continue his education in medical school.
Long, a football student-athlete, is a multiple recipient of Academic All-Big Ten honors, a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete Award Recipient, and First Team Academic All-America selection. Prior to Nebraska joining the Big Ten Conference, he was also named to five Big 12 Commissioners Fall and Spring Honor Roll honors, and multiple Academic All-District awards. On the field, Long received the Nebraska Walk-on-of-the-Year Award, was named a Burlsworth Trophy Semifinalist and to the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award Watch List, and was elected team captain in his senior year.
Long extends his impact outside of academics and the football field through participating in a variety of community service activities. He gives of his time as a guest speaker, reader, and mentor to local elementary and high schools, and patients at nearby hospitals. Long is also very involved with a student-led, not-for-profit organization that uses the influence of college football student-athletes to raise awareness and provide funding for those with pediatric brain cancer. Long helped the student-led organization plan a summer road race that was attended by more than 700 runners and raised over $15,000 to support research efforts. After the loss of a loved one, Long has been motivated and committed to pursue the prevention of brain cancer and an education in medicine.
Wong and Long will be honored in Indianapolis during the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, March 14. This marks the second consecutive year Nebraska has had both the male and female recipients of the Wayne Duke postgraduate award. Last year football student-athlete Sean Fisher and cross country/tracke and field standout Katie White were honored with the award.
2014 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Nominees:
University of Illinois: Megan Pawloski, soccer
Indiana University: Preston Keiffer, wrestling; Shannon Flower, soccer
University of Iowa: James Morris, football; Elise Borja, swimming and diving
University of Michigan: Conner Jaeger, swimming and diving; Erin Cameron, swimming and diving
Michigan State University: Nicholas Palazeti, football; Kristen Kelsay, volleyball
University of Minnesota: Chris Hawthorne, football; Rachel Drake, cross country and track and field
University of Nebraska: Spencer Long, football; Emily Wong, gymnastics
Northwestern University: Timothy Smith, swimming and diving; Jacqueline Powell, swimming and diving
Penn State University: Matthew Salig, swimming and diving; Lindsay Musgrove, gymnastics
Purdue University: Camden Eppert, wrestling; Hadley Stuart, soccer
University of Wisconsin: Ethan Hemer, football
Previous Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients:
2013: Sean Fisher, Nebraska, football; Katelyn White, Nebraska, cross country and track and field
2012: Miguel Pineda, Penn State, gymnastics; Margaux Farrell, Indiana, swimming and diving
2011: Mike Torchia, Minnesota, cross country and track and field; Allie Smith, Purdue, swimming and diving
2010: Mark Ison, Northwestern, football; Chelsea Davis, Ohio State, swimming and diving
2009: Drew Ratner, Northwestern, soccer; Lauren Mioton, Purdue, basketball
2008: Kevin Trulock, Indiana, football; Molly Crispell, Penn State, swimming and diving