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Chemical Engineering Student Tabbed for Scholar Athlete of the Year

July 24, 2017
Audra DeStefano
Chemical engineering master's student Audra DeStefano is the second Cowgirl to receive the prestigious award since the Mountain West incorporated in 1999.

University of Wyoming College of Engineering and Applied Science student Audra DeStefano was named the 2016-17 Mountain West Conference Women’s Scholar Athlete of the Year.
DeStefano, a master's student in chemical engineering, capped an extraordinary athletic career for the Cowgirl track and field and cross country programs in 2017. A native of Gillette, DeStefano is the second Cowgirl to receive the prestigious award since the Mountain West incorporated in 1999.
“I was surprised, but honored, to win the award,” she says. “There are a lot of exceptional student-athletes in our conference, so to be selected as the scholar-athlete of the year says a lot about the support systems and opportunities available to students at UW.”
In addition to her accolades in the athletic realm, DeStefano stands as one of the most decorated student-athletes in UW history. She was an eight-time selection to the Academic All-Mountain West team between track & field and cross country, while she was also named a Mountain West Scholar Athlete eight times between the two sports. She is a three-time All-Academic individual in track & field as recognized by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, with an additional honor for the 2016-17 track & field campaign still pending. The Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America recently named DeStefano to the 2016-17 Academic All-District® Women’s Track and Cross Country First Team, one of the more prestigious academic honors that student-athletes can receive.
Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor Katie Li credits DeStefano’s work ethic for her achievements.
“It’s her internal drive, hard work and top-notch time management skills that allow her to be successful,” Li says. “From where I see it, she balances her academic and athletic career by simply putting in the hours, with a laser focus, driven by her ambition for both.”
DeStefano has been active in various additional academic and service opportunities while at the University of Wyoming. She has volunteered by reading to and mentoring children at elementary schools around the state, doing volunteer electrical work with Habitat for Humanity in her hometown of Gillette, and assisting in various service efforts on campus and around Laramie. In 2016-17, she served as the Front Range Liaison for Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society, and has received a plethora of scholarships and awards for her engineering work at UW. Her graduate-level research recently resulted in acceptance for an oral presentation at the 2017 International Conference on Membranes, which will take place in San Francisco, Calif., later this summer.
“We are thrilled that Audra is this year’s selection for the Mountain West Women’s Scholar Athlete of the Year,” UW Director of Athletics Tom Burman says. “This award is a testament to her dedication, work ethic, and achievements not only in her sport, but in the classroom and the community. Audra endured some hardships during her career, but through perseverance and hard work she not only overcame those setbacks but ended her athletic career as an Honorable Mention All-American. That is the same type of dedication she applied to her studies as well, graduating last spring with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and starting her graduate work. We look forward to seeing all of the amazing things she is going to accomplish as she completes her master’s degree in chemical engineering and continues to have a tremendous impact on those around her.”
DeStefano collected seven All-MW honors in track & field during her career as a Cowgirl, including an individual conference title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2016, a race in which she set the UW program record for the event in 10 minutes, 7.35 seconds. She ranks in the top 10 in UW history for six track & field events, including third in the indoor mile and second in both the indoor 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. She’s seventh all-time in the outdoor 1,500 meters and outdoor 5,000 meters to go along with her school record in the steeplechase.
With four steeplechase medals in four years at the conference level, DeStefano became the first Cowgirl to be named to the All-Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Team for four straight years in the same event since Shaylee Babbitt accomplished the feat from 2006-2009 in the 100-meter hurdles. She ended her athletic career at UW in a storybook manner on June 8, when she raced to Honorable Mention All-American Status with a 21st-place national finish in the steeplechase after qualifying for the NCAA Track & Field Championships for the first time in her career.
The Mountain West Scholar Athlete of the Year Award is annually presented to “one male and one female who best exemplify the term ‘student-athlete’ by achieving excellence in academics, athletics and community involvement.” In order to qualify for the award, candidates must own a 3.5 cumulative GPA, demonstrate leadership, and display good character both in athletic competition and off the field. DeStefano is the fourth student-athlete from the University of Wyoming to receive a Scholar Athlete of the Year award from the Mountain West, joining Cowgirl basketball player Chaundra Sewell, former Cowboy football player Luke Ruff, and former Cowboy track & field and cross country athlete Greg Miller.
DeStefano and recent Utah State track & field alum Devin Wright, the 2017 MW Men’s Scholar Athlete of the Year, will each receive a $2,500 post-graduate scholarship in conjunction with their awards.
“As far as success in the classroom and on the track, distance running and engineering school are very similar in that consistency in time management and a positive attitude go a long way, along with supportive peers and mentors and a little luck," she says.

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