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2005 Arthur Ashe Jr Sports Scholar of the Year – Men’s

Media Contact:

Hilary Hurd Anyaso, (703) 385-2981, ext. 3044

Ralph Newell, (703) 385-2981, ext. 3013

FAIRFAX, VA, March 30, 2005 -“Incredible.” That’s the word used to describe track and field athlete Sharonda Latrice Johnson.

“Sharonda is the absolute best and brightest. She is the first
athletic, as well as academic, All-American Charlotte has ever had,”
says Lisa Hibbs, director of the University of North
Carolina-Charlotte’s Athletic Academic Advising Center.

It is Johnson’s performance on and off the track that led Black Issues In Higher Education
editors to select the junior chemistry major as its female Arthur Ashe
Jr. Sports Scholars of the Year for best exemplifying high standards of
scholarship, athleticism and humanitarianism. Johnson is featured in
the April 7, 2005, edition of Black Issues In Higher Education, along with the male Sports Scholar of the Year Michigan State University basketball guard Chris Hill.

The Arthur Ashe Sports Scholars Award is just one of the many honors and awards Johnson has received.

She has been on the Chancellor’s List, which requires a 3.8 GPA or
higher – all but a single semester, and has been the recipient of the
2003, 2004 and 2005 Conference USA (C-USA) Commissioner’s Academic
Medal, which requires a 3.75 cumulative GPA or higher. The junior has
dominated the triple jump and high jump events in the conference,
earning All-America honors in the triple jump at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor
Track and Field Championships. Johnson is the first female at
UNC-Charlotte to earn an All-America award in a jumping event and only
the second female overall at the school to earn All-America honors in
track and field. She also captured both the indoor and outdoor C-USA
championships in the triple jump as a sophomore in 2004, and became the
first Charlotte female to compete at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field
Championships. Johnson also holds the school record in both the indoor
and outdoor triple jump, and tied the school record for the indoor high
jump. Johnson has already provisionally qualified for the 2005 NCAA
Indoor Track and Field Championships in the triple and high jump.

Johnson, a native of Raleigh, NC, has a 3.8 cumulative
grade-point average, and has aspirations to participate in the 2008
Olympics, preferably in the triple jump.

“She wants to succeed in everything she does – she doesn’t do anything halfway,” says Hibbs.

Says UNC-Charlotte track and field coach Bob Olesen, “Sharonda is the best leader by example that we could ask for.”

Johnson volunteers with different organizations surrounding the
university. She has helped with Red Cross blood drives, has been a
Kidney Walk participant and volunteered at a homeless shelter. She has
also volunteered with the Police Athletic League, tutoring middle- and
high-school age students in subjects such as math, science and reading,
as well as tutoring fellow student-athletes in everything from
chemistry to physics.

“It gives me joy just to help other people,” Johnson says.

In 1992, Black Issues In Higher Education established
the Sports Scholars Award to honor undergraduate students of color who
exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.

A scholar and athlete, Ashe sought to expand opportunities for
young people. Each year Black Issues In Higher Education invites every
postsecondary institution in the country to participate in this awards
program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to
their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars
must exhibit academic excellence as well as community activism.

To be included, students have to compete in an intercollegiate
sport, maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.2, and
be active on their campuses or in their communities. This year,
approximately 400 male and female student-athletes from across the
country were nominated. A complete listing will appear on the Black Issues web site on April 7.

Published since 1984, Black Issues In Higher Education is the nation’s only news magazine dedicated exclusively to minority issues in higher education.

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