One "B", one "A-", and the rest "A" grades in eight years of schooling. Many of us could only dream of that. For gymnast Shanice Howard, that is a reality for the San Jose State student-athlete with the best overall grade-point average. This week, Howard is reaping the rewards of her success with two tremendous academic honors
Today, Howard is being honored the 2011 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Overall Top Female Student-Athlete sponsored by Diverse Education for her work in the classroom and in the gym. She was selected from more than 650 nominated student-athletes from NCAA and NAIA schools. To be nominated, a student-athlete needed a 3.20 cumulative gpa, be in good standing, have community participation and be an ethnic or minority student.
"Receiving this award is a huge honor," said Howard. "I am humbled by this award because there are many awesome and talented student-athletes across the country."
Friday night, Howard is one of 281 San Jose State students who will be recognized as President's Scholars at the 49th Annual Honors Convocation at The Event Center. To receive the honor, a student must have a 4.0 gpa for two contiguous semesters of the three semesters prior to the Convocation.
"One thing I appreciate from San Jose State is that this school recognizes students who are doing their best in the classroom. The reason we come to school is to get a degree."
Howard came to San Jose State not quite sure what she her major was going to be. She had choices but did not decide until she took a class on choosing a career path. That is where the 3.99 gpa student decided on kinesiology.
"I knew that I wanted to either do something in athletic training, physical therapy or creative writing," stated Howard. "Because I was an athlete and my experience with injuries, I leaned more toward physical therapy. I enjoy writing, but I just didn't think I could sit at a desk job and work all day. Physical therapy gets me up and moving all the time."
HOMEWORK & STUDYING
Howard has always enjoyed doing homework and reading. Her study habits are like many students. Many have to study with background noise of some sort with music being one of the most popular choices.
"I have always enjoyed doing homework, even in elementary school. I study for a couple hours at a time. I just can't cram for tests and exams. I know that if I learn something at the beginning of the semester, there is a good possibility that I will need to know that later in the year for another test. I read through my notes often and review what has been talked about in class.
"I cannot study if it is quiet though," said Howard. "I usually listen to music and give myself a goal/reward if I do the studying.
Her gymnastics teammates also encourage each other to keep their grades up and make sure everyone is taking care of business.
"Academics is a very important goal for our team," said Howard. "We continually strive to be the best academic team on campus. We encourage each other and make sure no one is slacking off on their studying. We came here to get an education and cannot forget that we are a student before an athlete."
After graduating from San Jose State in December, Howard is going to take some time off before heading to graduate school. She plans to enroll in the fall of 2012 and get her doctorate in physical therapy which will take three years. After that, Howard wants to work in a clinic and eventually run her own practice.
"I really like being in the leadership role and being in charge. I really want to focus on athletic injuries, especially since I have gone through therapy with gymnastics and dealing with injuries."
A lingering stress fracture in her shin limited her action during her senior year. Howard did vault and perform on the bars for the 2011 Spartans. She was a second team All-Western Athletic Conference honoree on vault after receiving a 9.800 at the conference meet. During her four years, Howard was a first team honoree on floor and a second-team honoree on vault (twice) and floor.
"I am really grateful that I was able to perform my senior year," said Howard. "It was hard with the nagging injuries and missed tumbling on the floor. But we are team, and I wanted to be there for my team."
Talking to Howard gives you a feeling that she appreciates the opportunities and education San Jose State has given her.
"One thing I want to emphasize to student-athletes is they should appreciate the opportunity given to them," said Howard. "They have an opportunity to get a degree from a higher education institution and should take advantage of every resource they have. Their goal should be to come to San Jose State and get a great education. I really appreciate the opportunity very much."