Big 12 student-athletes were winners of the 2012 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Awards, presented to a male and a female selected from over 600 candidates.
Oklahoma State senior shortstop Chelsea Garcia and Kansas State senior basketball captain Victor Ojeleye were named winners of the award this week. There were 10 finalists for each award. Emmanuel Acho of Texas was a male finalist while Krista Lopez of Oklahoma State and Beth West of Texas A&M were female finalists.
Baylor's Robert Griffin III won the award last year and this year the big 12 had more student-athletes named finalists than any other conference.
Garcia, a native of Moore, Okla., is the second Oklahoma State student-athlete to receive the award, which debuted in 1996. Yolanda Odenyo, an All-American on the Cowgirl soccer team, was named the Female Sports Scholar of the Year in 2009.
Garcia plans to continue the legacy of her late mother Robin, who was a grade school teacher, by becoming a teacher in an urban area to pass on the lessons of determination and perseverance that she has learned.
Ojeleye graduated from Kansas State earlier this month with a dual degree in accounting and finance.
"This award is not something I would have ever dreamed of receiving, but because of God's grace and the support of family, friends and K-State, I have been honored to receive it," said Ojeleye said in a statement. "I am truly in the company of great past recipients and I am fortunate to be able to represent my family with such a distinction. I am very thankful for this and appreciate it greatly. It is an honor and a privilege."
A native of Ottawa, Kan., Ojeleye was a leader on and off the court during his playing career (2008-12). A four-year lettermen and two-time captain for the basketball team, he is a part of the winningest senior class in school history with 96 victories. Ojeleye is one of just seven players in school history to earn first team academic all-conference honors three times in a career.
"Victor exemplifies the term student-athlete and has represented Kansas State University with the utmost dignity and class throughout his academic and athletic career," K-State athletics director John Currie said. "Without question his selfless leadership and support of his teammates and coaches has played a major role in our on-court success over his career. His determination and commitment to daily improvement in the classroom and in life serves as a model for not only K-State student-athletes but also for his colleagues across the nation."