Siena's Taylor Akana, Kimi Chavez, Tehresa Coles, Melanie Kalesse, Jacque Medina, Valerie Wijaya and Katie Zambrano have been named 2014 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports-Scholars by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.
According to the magazine, the Sports-Scholars Awards are set up to honor undergraduate students of color who have made achieving both academically and athletically a winning combination. The awards were inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe Jr.'s commitment to education as well as his love for the game.
Akana (Kaneohe, Hawaii) was one of 30 national Senior CLASS Award candidates in volleyball as a senior, and one of just two in the Northeast. She finished her career ranked second all-time at Siena with 1,700 kills and fourth with 1,370 digs. She graduated a semester early from Siena (in December of 2013) with a 3.82 GPA in marketing and repeated as a CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District selection in 2013, distinguishing herself among the top student athletes in the Northeast. Akana is one of two MAAC nominees for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Chavez (Agoura, Calif.) appeared in 27 of 28 games as a defender for Siena's water polo team in 2014. She holds a 3.26 cumulative grade point average in social work and was recently honored by the ACWPC for her excellence in the classroom.
Coles (Loudonville, N.Y.) started all 31 games for Siena's women's basketball team in 2013-14 and topped the squad with 10.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Her 210 career steals are just 71 shy of the program's all-time record. Coles will be pursuing her master's degree in accounting at Siena after graduating in May with a 3.25 GPA.
Kalesse (Philadelphia, Pa.) started all 55 games for Siena's softball team which set a program record with 29 victories in the spring. She led the team with 12 stolen bases and batted .251 as the team's everyday shortstop and No. 2 hitter. Off the field, Kalesse carries a 3.5 GPA in accounting.
Medina (Norman, Okla.) has been recognized throughout her career by the CSCAA and MAAC for her academic excellence. In the pool, she has been one of the program's top distance swimmers. She owns a 3.47 GPA as an English major and held summer internships in the Capital Region with NYSUT and WNYT.
Wijaya (Chino Hills, Calif.) completed a solid sophomore season for Siena's MAAC Champion women's golf program, finishing in the top-10 to earn a spot on the ECAC Championship Team and tying for 20th in the MAAC Championships. She recently left Siena with a 3.48 cumulative GPA in finance.
Zambrano (Avon, Conn.) started all 21 games for the Saints in 2013, logging two assists. She was honored as a MAAC All-Academic and MAAC Honor Roll pick each of the last two years and owns a 3.56 cumulative GPA in psychology entering her senior season.
The seven Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports-Scholar Award recipients mark the most in Siena history.