INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – SDSU Senior Rachel King received a postgraduate scholarship from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The St. Michael, Minn., native has held a cumulative grade-point average of 3.871 to this point of her career while majoring in community and public health with a Spanish minor and a pre-occupational therapy specialization.
She has competed in cross country and track and field for the Jackrabbits while making the dean’s list all seven semesters thus far and being in the top 10 percent of her graduating class. She is also a member of the Sigma Delta Pi (a Spanish honors society) while being named to The Summit League’s All-Academic team a total of six times across the three seasons she competes in (XC: 2016, 2017, 2018, ITF: 2017, 2018, OTF: 2018).
King has also been honored by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s (USTFCCCA) Division I All-Academic five times (XC: 2017, 2018, TF: 2016, 2017, 2018).
Enjoying her major has led to her earning Summit League Academic Honor roll every semester (seven so far) on campus and the league’s commissioner’s list of academic excellence every season she’s been eligible for (four seasons).
“When I came to South Dakota State, they suggested this major to me since I wanted a career with occupational therapy, and I have learned to really enjoy the major,” King said. “My major has provided me with a holistic view of one’s health and the health care system, and I think that will really help me as an OT.”
“Typically, pre-OT students choose exercise science as their major, so I think it’s nice to have a different perspective going in than most others.” King explained. “I want to be an OT because I love working with children who have special needs or physical disabilities, and in the career, I will be able to help strengthen others’ skills and make many activities of daily life easier and more attainable for them.”
After her career as a student at SDSU, King is expecting to go to University of Mary in Bismark, N.D. for graduate school.
“After grad school, I plan on specializing in pediatrics, and hopefully finding myself in a school setting or pediatric clinic.” King said.
However, the Jackrabbit distance runner won’t give up on athletics afterwards, dreaming of qualifying 3,000m steeplechase for the Olympic Trials in 2020.
“I deeply desire to continue my running career and I believe that this experience is only the beginning and there is still a lot of room for improvement and growth for me.” King explained. “With the heavy demands of grad school, I will most likely have to train on my own, but I am determined and willing to do so.
Through her career, King has made a memorable mark on Jackrabbit track and field and cross country. She has just recently finished her indoor and cross country careers at SDSU and will open her last outdoor season at the end of March.
“My athletic career at SDSU has gone above and beyond what I have expected,” King said. “I came in with high expectations for myself, but I have surpassed them with my the most noting accomplishment being my qualification to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase last year.”
She was the first Jackrabbit to qualify and compete on the track in the NCAA Outdoor Division I Championships - earning NCAA All-American honorable mention status.
“The entire trip to Eugene for the track and field championships was such an honor to run on the same track as so many amazing runners,” King stated. “I love the history and reputation the school has with running, and it was fun to be in an area that idolizes track and field athletes. It was just an amazing experience that I will forever cherish.”
She is also the second Jack to earn NCAA All-Regional honors in cross country, first to win multiple.
In Summit League awards, she is the lone Jackrabbit to win track post-season awards (Track Athlete of the Year in 2017 and Track Championship MVP in 2018) while moving into a tie for fifth all-time in the league for most indoor championship wins (six).
For records, King holds individual records on the track to this point of her career (IN: Mile, 3,000m, 5,000m, OUT: 3,000m steeplechase, 5,000m) and moved to second all-time in the 1,500m, and was a part of the DMR school record. In cross country, she holds the third-fastest winning time for the league championship 6k (fastest for SDSU) and fifth overall fastest.
Being a student-athlete has taught me great time management skills and I believe that if I was not a student athlete, I would not be as dedicated to my academics as I am,” explained King. “When we get our two-week break from running after the cross country season, I get a little taste of what it is like to be just a student, and I don’t like it.”
King continued, “I think running keeps me on top of my academics because I know I don’t have much time to waste, so it causes me to focus on it more.”
Above all the accolades and performances King has represented SDSU with, she will always hold onto the relationships she has connected with.
“Not with only my teammates but getting to know the coaches as well - especially Rod (DeHaven, head coach),” King explained. “These relationships will last the rest of my life, so I am very grateful that God has granted me the opportunity to meet everyone I have met along the way, and gaining great advice from my coaches and teammates.”
The distance runner from St. Michael, Minn. is the first Jackrabbit from the women’s track and field team to be honored with the postgraduate scholarship since jumper Mary Wirth did in 2014. The last Jackrabbit overall to earn the scholarship was Jordan Dykstra (2016-17 Winter).
“I am super excited and honored to have received this scholarship!” King expressed. “Grad school will be very, very expensive, so I know this money will go a long way towards that. It’s one thing I can stress a little less about.”
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The NCAA awards up to 126 postgraduate scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are at least in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition.
The one-time non-renewable scholarships of $10,000 are awarded three times a year corresponding to each sport season (fall, winter and spring). Each sports season there are 21 scholarships available for men and 21 scholarships available for women for use in an accredited graduate program.
All former student-athletes who earned an undergraduate degree from an NCAA member school are eligible to be nominated by that school for an NCAA graduate degree scholarship, regardless of when they received their undergraduate degree.