Baylor soccer's Precious Akanyirige and track/cross country’s Matt Parham were named recipients of the Big 12’s 2017-18 Dr. Prentice Gautt Postgraduate Scholarship, announced Thursday by the conference office.
Akanyirige and Parham are Baylor’s representatives among the 20 honorees, with each of the conference’s member institutions awarded two scholarships, one male and one female.
Akanyirige was a versatile and dependable piece of the Baylor soccer program throughout all four of her seasons on the pitch for the Bears.
Already earning the Big 12’s Soccer Scholar Athlete of the Year, the Pleasanton, Calif., native was one of the top defenders in the country in the 2017 season and anchored a BU backline that ranked among the nation’s best in goals allowed.
Academically, Akanyirige is a biology major with an anthropology minor and a 3.80 GPA. She is a three-time selection to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team, a 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree, a seven-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection, and a five-time Baylor Dean’s List honoree.
Akanyirige will be moving to Chicago to attend Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, pursuing a dual MD/MPH (medical doctor and master’s in public health) degree.
She helped lead the Bears through their deepest run in the NCAA Tournament to date, advancing to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history, as well as earning the program’s third Big 12 title.
A four-year member of the Baylor cross country and track & field teams, Matt Parham graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in May.
He is a two-time All-Big 12 honoree in the distance medley relay. During cross country season, he compiled 11 scoring performances in his career. In the classroom, he was a five-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team and Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection.
The Richmond, Texas, native will pursue a Master of Science in Epidemiology and Clinical Research from Stanford University, beginning his postgraduate studies this fall.
The scholarships are named in honor of the late Dr. Prentice Gautt, a former Big 12 Conference staff member and student services' pioneer who passed away in March 2005. The list of all-time recipients has grown to 421 since the inception of the league in 1996-97. Starting in 2002-03, additional funding increased scholarship award winners to two per member institution.
To date the Big 12 has provided over $2.9 million for postgraduate education. The individual grants began at $2,500 in 1996-97, were raised to $5,000 in 1999 and increased to $6,900 for 2004-05. The awards climbed to $7,500 in 2006-07, moved to $9,000 in 2011-12 and are now at $10,000 since 2013-14.
Criteria for the awards includes a cumulative grade point average of 3.200 on a 4.000 scale, participation in at least two years of intercollegiate athletics at the nominee's respective institution and completion of athletics' eligibility. The student-athletes also must graduate from their respective member institutions within 15 months of their selection for a postgraduate scholarship and are expected to enroll in graduate/professional schools within two years of graduation. Three faculty representatives, one senior woman administrator and one director of athletics form the selection panel for the awards.