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Kierra Smith finalist for Arthur Ashe Jr. Scholar Award

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:33 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:43 a.m. CDT

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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Augustana senior Kierra Smith of Creston is one of 16 finalist from colleges and universities across the nation for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award as sponsored by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Smith an NCAA Division III All-American last year as an intermediate hurdler on the Vikings’ women’s track & field team, was selected from more than 600 minority student-athletes nominated by their respective institutions.

Smith has been a standout member of veteran head coach Fred Whiteside’s team throughout her career. In 2013 she earned All-American honors when she placed seventh in the NCAA Division III outdoor track & field meet with a time of 1:01.63.

She is the Augustana school record holder in the event with a time of 1:01.56, which she recorded in winning the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin championship as a junior. Smith also won the 100 hurdles in the CCIW with a time of :15.17. She was also fifth in the 55 hurdles last year in the indoor CCIW meet.

Co-MVP

In 2013 she was named co-MVP for Augustana after both the indoor and outdoor seasons and was also the co-MVP after her sophomore season in outdoor track. She was a Capital One Academic All-District selection in 2013 and she also is a member of outdoor school record relay teams in the 1600 (3:51.04 in 2011) and distance medley (12:15.79 in 2012). She has a share of the indoor distance medley school record of 12:13.73 set in 2012.

In the spring of 2013 Smith was named the winner of the Jack Swartz Award in the CCIW for her combination of athletic excellence and academic success. Six times she has been named to the CCIW academic all-conference team and she has placed in the conference meet six times in the hurdles during the outdoor season.

A political science and accounting major, Smith carries a 3.612 grade point average. She was named to the US Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association all-scholastic team in 2013. She is the daughter of Carol Smith of Creston.

Smith’s achievements outside of the realm of athletics is as impressive as when she is wearing the Blue & Gold on the track. She was the recipient of the 2013 Advancing Women in Accounting Scholarship by the Illinois CPA Society and was the 2013 Mary T. Washington Wylie Scholar, named after our country’s 13th African-American CPA and first African-American female to obtain her CPA license.

She was chosen by the Augustana accounting faculty to represent the school in the 2013 AICPA Accounting Case Competition.

She is the social networking co-chair of the New Employee On-Boarding and Networking Committee with John Deere’s Internship Program. Smith has had three internships: Prairie State Legal Services – Volunteer Legal Intern serving low-income families (summer 2012), John Deere & Company – Internal Audit (summer 2013) and Deloitte & Touche LLP (winter 2014).

The Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award was started in 1992 by Black Issues in Higher Education magazine, now Diverse, to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.

To be nominated, students have to compete in an intercollegiate sport, maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.20 and be active on campus and in the community. This year the NCAA Office of Inclusion partnered with Diverse to present this standout class of scholar-athletes.

Smith was one of just two NCAA Division III student-athletes to win the honor and the only representative from the CCIW and the state of Illinois.

•••

With the conclusion of the indoor season, the Augustana women’s track & field team heads into its outdoor calendar ranked 15th in the latest NCAA Division III dual meet power rankings. This marks the 22nd time that the Vikings have been ranked in the top-15 since the U.S. Track & Field/Cross Country Coaches Association’s poll began in 2008.

The USTFCCCA poll quantifies the depth of each team. The team’s total score is the sum of all points earned in each event. The points are based on the best marks of an event in the current season.

Augustana finishes its indoor season up with never having placed worse than fourth in any of its meets. The Vikings were victorious in the Sol Butler Invitational on January 18 and the Monmouth Invitational on Jan. 25.

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