April 4, 2011
Simon and Drager receive Skelton Award for Academic Excellence in Athletics
Tech honors athletes at AD's Honors Breakfast

Chris Drager and Laura Simon received the Skelton Award for Academic Excellence in Athletics – the highest designation handed out by the Tech athletics department – at the annual Athletics Director’s Honors Breakfast held April 2 on the Tech campus.

The Skelton Award, named after the late Dr. Bill and Peggy Skelton, is presented each year to a rising junior, senior or fifth-year male and female student-athlete who has participated in intercollegiate athletics for at least two seasons at Tech. Each recipient receives a scholarship of $5,000 for the upcoming academic year.

Drager, a tight end on the football team from Jefferson Hills, Pa., graduated last year with a degree in human nutrition, foods and exercise. The rising fifth-year senior is currently in the master’s program. He played defensive end last season and finished with 34 tackles, including six for a loss, and two sacks.

Simon, a sophomore from Greensville, S.C., is majoring in biochemistry. She competes in the distance freestyle events and the individual medley events. She recorded a ninth-place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle event, a 17th-place finish in the 500-yard freestyle event and a 19th-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle at the ACC Championships.

In addition to the Skelton Award recipients, the members of the 2010 Athletic Director’s Honor Roll were also recognized. The AD Honor Roll is designed to pay tribute to student-athletes who have achieved a grade-point average of 3.0 or better during one or both semesters in the preceding calendar year. Since its inception in 1988, the Honor Roll has recognized an average of more than 200 student-athletes each semester. This year, 362 student-athletes made the AD Honor Roll, which is more than 65 percent of the entire population.

The ACC also sponsors an award to outstanding senior student-athletes. Each institution establishes criteria for the award, and Virginia Tech has chosen to honor seniors who excel in balancing the academic and athletic demands of intercollegiate athletics. This year’s ACC-VT Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year are Kelly Phillips and Pedro Graber.

Phillips is one of the top female track and field student-athletes in school history. She recently won the NCAA Elite 88 Academic Award and was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic squad for the second time. She is a two-time ACC Champion and All-American in the pole vault, and set a new school record during the 2011 indoor season.

Graber has been a member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll and Virginia Tech AD’s Honor Roll since enrolling at Tech. He is a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete. During the 2009-2010 academic year, he was honored with the Skelton Award for Academic Excellence in Athletics.

The ACC provides student-athletes with financial support for postgraduate endeavors through the ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Program. Phillips and Graber, along with women’s soccer player Jennifer Harvey, are recipients of the 2010-2011 ACC Postgraduate Scholarship Awards, also known as the Weaver-James-Corrigan Graduate Scholarship.

The Weaver-James-Corrigan scholarships are awarded to three student-athletes from each conference institution who intend to pursue a postgraduate degree. Each recipient receives $5,000 to contribute to his or her postgraduate education. Harvey and Phillips both plan to attend medical school. Graber is currently pursuing a master’s degree in industrial systems engineering at Tech and hopes to pursue a career in operational research.

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