SPARTANBURG, SC – Western Carolina Athletics/Cross Country Student-Athletes clay summer and Carter Unger were both awarded Southern Conference Presidential Scholarships when the league announced the postgraduate scholarship winners on Friday.
In addition to Summers and Unger, this year’s recipients include David Knight Fellow Alexis Tomlin (Wofford); Dave Hart Fellow Hamp Sisson (Furman); Bob McCloskey Insurance Scholarship recipients Drew Singerman (Furman) and Sarah Anschutz (VMI); Dorothy Hicks Fellow Kayla White (UNC Greensboro); and Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship recipients Jessica Cullins (UNC Greensboro), Zoë Perrin (Samford), and Cooper Long (Chattanooga).
Award winners are nominated by their schools and selected by the Southern Conference Graduate Scholar Committee. The scholarships, each worth $2,000, are awarded to athletic students who are about to complete their bachelor’s degree and intend to pursue advanced degrees at a graduate or professional school. The student-athletes are evaluated on academics, track and field, and community service.
“This is an exciting honor for these two student-athletes,” said the WCU Cross Country/Track and Field Head Coach Jess Norman. “This shows the caliber of student-athletes we’ve been able to bring to the program and how we value success in the classroom and on track and field. Both Carter and Clay have been deeply involved throughout their college and athletic endeavors in their careers and it’s great to see them recognized with this honor.”
Summers was a member of both the WCU’s cross country and track teams. He began his cross-country skiing career in the 2019 season and was named team captain for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. A biology major, Summers received the 2019-20 WCU Brinson Honors College Scholarship and achieved a 4.0 GPA in the same semester. A native of Advance, NC, he served on the WCU Chancellor’s Roll from 2019-2021 and was a member of the Southern Conference Academic Honors Roll during the same period. Summers has been an on-campus tutor, a volunteer coach for a local high school cross-country team, and the chancellor’s boxing assistant at home soccer games in Western Carolina. He was also part of the Christmas Connections Shoebox Packing program along with the Chancellor’s Ambassadors. In June he begins his graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studies accounting.
“Receiving an award that helps me advance my education means a lot to me,” Summers said. “I have always strived to excel in teaching and look forward to continuing this in my graduate program. I always say to those close to me that I run things like family. By being involved in the campus and surrounding communities, I’ve been able to extend my love and support to those who have invested the same in me. It was her initial contact with me, an outsider, that inspired me to give back. Western Carolina and the U.S. Southern Conference cannot be thanked enough for believing in my future.”
Unger began her track and field career as a pole vaulter in the 2018/19 indoor season. As a freshman, the Chapin, SC native placed third at the SoCon Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Two years later, at the same meeting, Unger had her personal best, clearing a height of 12 feet when WCU hosted the annual event. She has been named to the All-SoCon academic team every year of her career.
In 2020, Unger received a Southern Conference Commissioner’s Medal. From 2018-20, she volunteered at Cullowhee Valley School during Thanksgiving lunch and the Walk to School program. She also contributed to Jackson County’s Christmas Connections throughout her college career. Her volunteer work later expanded into forensic search and recovery in her college years. She was with the group in Richland County, South Carolina in 2020 and in Cherokee County, South Carolina in 2021.
“I am very grateful to have been selected for the 2022 Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship,” said Unger. “It is an honor to be recognized for my community service and academic achievements during my four years at WCU. WCU and the western area of North Carolina have offered me a lot of support and help over the past several years. I believe the best way I can repay and serve this community is through volunteering. I’m also inspired by the relationships I’ve forged through WCU and the Sylva community while volunteering. I know that the relationships I have formed in the service of this community will last a lifetime. This scholarship will allow me to continue my education to graduate level and continue my education as a biological anthropologist at a lower cost. I am very grateful to be a recipient.”
Summers and Unger are the 19th and 20th Student-athletes total to receive a Southern Conference postgraduate scholarship. This is the fifth consecutive year that WCU student-athletes have received a postgraduate scholarship and the second consecutive season that athletics student-athletes have received this honor Victoria Solheim was awarded the William V. Moore Postgraduate Scholarship in 2021.
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Western Carolina Southern Conference Postgraduate Scholarship Recipients
2021-22: Carter Unger (Women’s Athletics) – Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship
2021-22: clay summer (Men’s Cross Country/Track and Field) – Southern Conference Presidential Scholarship
2020-21: Victoria Solheim (Women’s Athletics) – William V. Moore Scholarship presented by McMillan Pazdan Smith
2019-20: Emily Zipay (women’s soccer) – Southern Conference President’s Scholarship
2018-19: Savanah Taranto (women’s tennis) – Southern Conference President’s Scholarship
2017-18: Kassandra Flores (softball) – Sports Medicine Institute Scholarship presented by the Spartanburg Regional Health System
2015-16: Taylor Sigman (softball) – Dorothy Hicks Scholarship
2014-15: Makensey Campbell (Women’s Basketball) – William V. Moore Scholarship presented by McMillan Pazdan Smith
2014-15: Alishia Reese (Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field) – Southern Conference President’s Scholarship
2014-15: KP Hicks (Football) – Mike Wood Scholarship
2013-14: Brittany Gendron (women’s football) – David Knight Scholarship
2013-14: Alex Abraham (women’s basketball) – Bob McCloskey Insurance Scholarship
2012-13: Samantha Hodge (Women’s Soccer) – William V. Moore Scholarship presented by McMillan Pazdan Smith
2009-10: David gift (Men’s Athletics) – Bob McCloskey Insurance Scholarship
2005-06: Emily Pierce (Women’s Soccer) – David Knight Scholarship
2004-05: Rans Brempong (Men’s Basketball) – Mike Wood Foundation Scholarship
2003-04: Emre Atsur (Men’s Basketball) – Mike Wood Foundation Scholarship
2003-04: Yoneko Allen (Women’s Basketball) – Mike Wood Foundation Scholarship
1999-2000: Ramsey Herron (Volleyball) – Dorothy Hicks Scholarship
1995-96: Kristin Allen (Volleyball) – Dorothy Hicks Scholarship
1992-93: Susie Gardner (Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field) – Dorothy Hicks Scholarship