Junior cheerleader Olivia DeFord was nominated as the Great Plains Athletic Conference’s (GPAC) female nominee for the A.O. Duer Award on August 19.
In the words of DeFord, “One male and female athlete are nominated from each college and then each athletic conference selects one male and female to nominate.”
In an article from Doane Athletics, DeFord was also recognized this past year as the 2019-20 Bill Bayer Junior Scholar-Athlete.
She is involved in her sorority, Chi Delta and is serving on the Greek Council this year, and was also an NAIA All-American selection this past year.
DeFord noted that her nomination was the culmination of many things she is involved in, one of which being Project SERVE, a program that helps future STEM educators by sending them to at-risk high schools to teach.
She also attributes her selection as Doane’s Junior Scholar-Athlete this past year as the reason she got the initial nomination from Doane. It was the letters of recommendation that she believes got her the GPAC nomination.
DeFord has shown her value both in athletics and in academics. She has earned a 3.98 GPA to go along with her NAIA All-American selection.
DeFord was grateful to those who wrote letters of recommendation for her nomination.
“Reading all their kind words really gave me a confidence boost and made me realize what the people I look up to think about me. Some of the things they had to say about me I never would have thought to say about myself,” DeFord said.
DeFord had to get five letters of recommendation and an additional letter from her coach to be considered for the GPAC nomination.
With her success, DeFord took a humble approach, noting that it’s important for everyone to believe in themselves.
“Don’t underestimate yourself or think that people don’t notice the good things that you’re doing. And try to form as many relationships as you can with staff and professors. They love to say amazing things about the students that they know,” DeFord said.
The A.O. Duer Award winner will be announced in Sept. DeFord will look to join Brittany Price, 2003, and Marissa DeWispelarein, 2017, as award winners from Doane.