Minnesota All-American Jessica Plant Selected as Wayne Duke Award Recipient

MINNEAPOLIS – Jessica Plant from the University of Minnesota and Campbell Sode from Rutgers University have been chosen as the 2015 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 2015, 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.

Plant, a swimmer at Minnesota, is a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, two-time Academic All-American, and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. She enters her final undergraduate academic semester with a 4.0 GPA in her coursework toward her art history and classical civilizations degrees.

Plant serves as a member of the University of Minnesota’s Swimming and Diving leadership council and as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Her volunteer work includes the MAGIC program, where she leads activities in elementary schools, promoting education and healthy living, and as a Hope Day volunteer, managing games and playing with children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. In 2012, she served as a Golden Eagles volunteer, an after-school program for Native American children in the Minneapolis area.

In the pool, Plant was a member of the Golden Gophers’ 800 freestyle relay team that won the Big Ten title. She is a three-time First-Team All-American and has been named to All-Big Ten first- and second-teams during her career. She was invited to compete for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team, but declined to continue her academic studies. Plant plans to pursue graduate work in art history and archaeology.

Plant and Sode will be honored during the 44th Annual Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon on Friday, July 31, 2015 in Chicago.

2015 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Nominees:

  • University of Illinois: Alison Meng, women’s swimming and diving
  • Indiana University: Lora Olson, softball; Mark Murphy, football
  • University of Iowa: Gabrielle Watson, rowing
  • University of Maryland: Shannon Bustillos, softball; Casey Ikeda, men’s lacrosse
  • University of Michigan: Nicole Elmblad, women’s basketball; Ali Arastu, men’s track and field
  • Michigan State University: Lindsey McPherson, women’s golf; Ryan Keener, men’s soccer
  • University of Minnesota: Jessica Plant, women’s swimming and diving; Mathieu Froment, men’s tennis
  • University of Nebraska: Jennifer Lauer, women’s gymnastics; John Welk, men’s track and field
  • Northwestern University: Kathryn Landgrebe, women’s soccer; Collin Ellis, football
  • Ohio State University: Katie Borchers, women’s cross country and track and field; Michael Henchy, men’s volleyball
  • Penn State University: Alexandra Witt, women’s gymnastics; Connor Curry, men’s volleyball
  • Purdue University: MacKenzie Tweardy, women’s swimming and diving; James Bissett, men’s swimming and diving
  • Rutgers University: Chioma Moneme, women’s rowing; Campbell Sode, men’s lacrosse
  • University of Wisconsin: Kimberly Dinh, women’s golf

Previous Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award Recipients:

  • 2014: Spencer Long, Nebraska, football; Emily Wong, Nebraska, women’s gymnastics
  • 2013: Sean Fisher, Nebraska, football; Katelyn White, Nebraska, women’s cross country and track and field
  • 2012: Miguel Pineda, Penn State, men’s gymnastics; Margaux Farrell, Indiana, women’s swimming
  • 2011: Mike Torchia, Minnesota, men’s cross country and track and field; Allie Smith, Purdue, women’s swimming
  • 2010: Mark Ison, Northwestern, football; Chelsea Davis, Ohio State, women’s diving
  • 2009: Drew Ratner, Northwestern, men’s soccer; Lauren Mioton, Purdue, women’s basketball
  • 2008: Kevin Trulock, Indiana, football; Molly Crispell, Penn State, women’s swimming

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in student-athletes’ lives and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based athletic programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions provide nearly $200 million in direct financial aid to almost 9,500 student-athletes for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse as official sports for the 2014-15 academic year. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.

Indiana Sports Corp’s mission is to create positive impact by hosting world-class sporting events that enhance vibrancy in the community, build civic pride, drive economic impact and media exposure, and encourage opportunities for youth. A not-for-profit organization, Indiana Sports Corp was founded in 1979 as the nation’s first sports commission. Our recent and upcoming schedule of events includes NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Fours, Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, Big Ten Football Championship Games through 2021, Big Ten Basketball Tournaments, 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Diving, and much more. For more information, visit www.IndianaSportsCorp.org. Follow on Twitter at @IndSportsCorp.


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5 years ago

Congratulations Jessica. I had the pleasure of working with Jessica and her parents with the college recruiting process. This is a well deserved away for an outstanding young lady. Jessica is a shining example of a very successful STUDENT-athlete.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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