BIRMINGHAM-– Cross Country athlete Rob Whiting and basketball player Christina Wirth have been nominated by Vanderbilt University for the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship.

The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship has been presented by the Southeastern Conference since 1986 to the league's top male and female scholar-athletes. 

The Southeastern Conference will name the 2009 recipients of the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship on April 6 in conjunction with National Student-Athlete Day.

Whiting, a senior from Fernandina Beach, Fla., has a 3.74 grade point average, with a double major in Economics and East Asian Studies.  He is the recipient of the Ingram Scholarship, Vanderbilt's most prestigious award, based on academics and commitment to service.  He is a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and has earned Dean's List status every semester at Vanderbilt since Spring 2006. 
A member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon international economics honor society, he has earned the Lu Tao Scholarship for Chinese Proficiency and the Freeman-ASIA Study Abroad Scholarship, awarded to outstanding students who demonstrate sincere interest in incorporating East Asian Studies into future academic and/or professional plans.

A four-year letter winner, Whiting was named Vanderbilt's most improved cross country athlete in 2008 and earned the John C. Wooden Citizenship Cup National Finalist.  He was a member of the SEC's Track & Field Community Service Team, and a winner of VU's Tolbert Cup, for win percentage, GPA and service work.  He was a two-time top 10 finisher in the Commodore Invitational.
He is the founder and president of Students for Students, Inc., mentoring high-poverty students and coordinating all organizational efforts and fund-raising campaigns.  He has been a volunteer director of the Education Advancement Fund international and committee chair for Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Recycling.  He has been a teacher aide in Beijing, China and a shift manager at Vanderbilt Microcomputer Labs.

Wirth, a senior from Mesa, Ariz., earned her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt, majoring in Human and Organizational Development, with a minor in Child Development, and started graduate studies at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing with a 4.0 GPA this past fall. She is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll (winter 2009 honor roll to be announced later this month).  She has earned Dean's List status every semester since Fall 2006 and was a two-time CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All District selection.  She also earned VU Student-Athlete of the Month status twice.

On the Commodore basketball squad, she serves a team captain of this year's squad, helping lead Vandy to the SEC Tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.  She was MVP of Vandy's Thanksgiving Tournament and was a top 30 candidate for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. 

As a junior, she was a team captain, led the SEC in three-point field goal percentage and was a first-team All-SEC choice.  She was a member of the 2007 SEC All-Tournament Team.

She has been very active in the community, serving on the Vanderbilt Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Vanderbilt Catholic Community, serving as Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.  She has also participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Vanderbilt's Children's Hospital, Mercy Ministries, World Vision and Angel Tree.  

The SEC Office will be releasing each of its institution's nominees periodically until the April 6 winners are announced.  The schedule is as follows:
            Alabama – Michael Jung, Tennis (Male) / Brittany Rogers, Softball (Female)
            Arkansas – Blake Strode, Tennis (Male) / Aurelija Miseviciute, Tennis (Female)
            Auburn – Glenn Northcutt, Golf (Male) / Allison Whitworth, Soccer (Female)
            Florida – Eugene Martin, Track & Field (Male) / Kelsey Bowers, Volleyball (Female)
            Georgia – Kit French, Swimming (Male) / Courtney Kupets, Gymnastics (Female)
            Kentucky – Tim Masthay, Football (Male) / Jessica Ortman, Track & Field/Cross Country (Female)
            LSU – Rabun Fox, Track & Field (Male) / Lauren Klein, Gymnastics (Female)
            Ole Miss – Bram ten Berge, Tennis (Male) / Rachel Kieckhaefer, Volleyball (Female)
            Miss. State – Noah Goldman, Golf (Male) / Sammie Jo Bailey, Softball (Female)
            South Carolina – Jason Richardson, Track & Field (Male) / Ashton Payne, Softball (Female)
            Tennessee – Greg Houchin, Swimming (Male) / Christine Magnuson, Swimming (Female)
            Vanderbilt – Rob Whiting, Cross Country (Male) / Christina Wirth, Basketball (Female)
            Brad Davis Community Service Award – April 3
             National Student-Athlete Day was created in 1987 by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) and Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, and presented by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

National Student-Athlete Day is held each April 6 to celebrate outstanding student-athletes who have achieved excellence in academics and athletics while having made significant contributions to the community. It is also a time to recognize those parents, teachers, coaches and school systems which make it possible for young people to find the balance between academics and athletics. 

Each year, the SEC, in conjunction with AT&T, an SEC Corporate Champion sponsor, and the Allstate Sugar Bowl, provides the league's male and female McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship recipients with a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship.  The 22 remaining male and female finalists for the award will also receive a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship.  The award recipients are chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from the 12 SEC institutions and are honored at the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla. on May 28.

Last year's recipients were Alabama golfer Joseph Sykora and Auburn swimmer Kristen Hastrup.
Student-Athlete Q&A
Rob Whiting
1 - What does being nominated for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award mean to you?
I am extremely flattered to be nominated for such a prestigious award that recognizes both athletics and academics. Since arriving at Vanderbilt I've pushed myself both on the course and in the classroom, moving into a team leadership role and trying to improve my Mandarin and my understanding of poverty. The McWhorter nomination is really the capstone of these efforts.
2 - What are your favorite classes and why?
My favorite classes are my Chinese language classes, especially Business Chinese. Gaining tools that allow me to explore an entirely different country and culture is really exciting to me. I take a lot of pleasure in meeting new people and learning new things, and this is what Chinese has allowed me to do.
3 - What does it mean to compete as a student-athlete of your institution?
Representing Vanderbilt in the SEC and competing against some of the best universities in the nation is a huge honor and privilege for me. I came to Vanderbilt because of its outstanding academics and the opportunity to continue and improve my running at a high level. The experience has been an invaluable part of my personal development.
4 - What would you tell an incoming student at your institution on how to succeed in college?
To be effective in college you need to stay on top of your work and keep a balance between the academic, athletic, and social aspects. But to really excel I think you need to find a passion and figure out what drives you. This helps make sense of everything you are doing over your four years.
5 - What's the best part of the day?
The best part of the day is anytime I can just relax and hang out. Sometimes I feel like I'm constantly going, so having a little down time to grab coffee with a friend or watch an old episode of Seinfeld is really refreshing.
6 - Plans for post-graduate education? 
I have recently received the Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship, so I will be traveling the world for the next year to explore the idea of poverty and analyze innovative poverty alleviation organizations, focusing on those applying market-based solutions. I am deferring enrollment to the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Center in Nanjing, China, where I plan to pursue a MA in Chinese Studies.
Christina Wirth
1 - What does being nominated for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award mean to you?
There are a lot of incredible student-athletes at Vanderbilt and in the SEC so to be considered for this award is a great honor.  I feel very blessed to have been nominated, and I am just extremely thankful for all of the opportunities that I have had as a student-athlete at Vanderbilt.
2 - What are your favorite classes and why?
I have enjoyed all of my nursing classes so far.  They are very challenging, but they are also extremely rewarding.  I get excited about learning new things because I know that there are very practical applications for that knowledge.  
3 - What does it mean to compete as a student-athlete of your institution?
Competing for and representing Vanderbilt University has been such a privilege.  I am so proud of my team and the program that the coaches have created.  I believe that it stands for the right things – teamwork, integrity, loyalty, sportsmanship, sacrifice, and hard work – and that is the kind of institution that I am so blessed to be a part of.  I am grateful for all of the lessons I have learned both as a student and as an athlete at Vanderbilt, and I feel confident that Vanderbilt has helped to prepare me for whatever life has in store for me. 
4 - What would you tell an incoming student at your institution on how to succeed in college?
I would tell an incoming student at Vanderbilt to take advantage of every opportunity that they have, and don't take anything for granted.  If you want to succeed at Vanderbilt, you can.  The resources that they have here are just amazing, and the people here really care about you.  That being said, in order to be successful, you must work extremely hard, be willing to make sacrifices, and persevere through difficult times.  It definitely pays off in the end. 
5 - What's the best part of the day?
The best part of the day is being around the people who have become like a second family to me.  My coaches, teammates, and friends are absolutely unbelievable.  They have made my college experience so memorable, and every day I look forward to spending time with them.
 6 - Plans for post-graduate education?
After I complete my Masters at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, I plan on finding a job at a Children's Hospital.  I don't know yet where I will end up, but I do know that wherever it is, I will more than equipped with all of the knowledge and skills that I need to be successful.

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