CHICAGO - And then there were nine.
Recent University of Chicago graduate Ade Ayoola, initially a Top 30 finalist for the award, has officially been named one of nine finalists for the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year Award, as announced by the organization Tuesday.
Ayoola was selected from a record 581 school nominees -- a group that was then narrowed down to 154 nominees by conference offices -- and now is one of three NCAA Division III nominees remaining. Three honorees from each Division were selected among the nine.
From these finalists, the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics will select the 2018 NCAA Woman of the Year. The Top 30 will be celebrated and the Woman of the Year will be named Oct. 28 at a ceremony in Indianapolis, Ind.
Ayoola recently concluded a decorated four-year career on the UChicago women's track and field team. As a three-time NCAA qualifier in the outdoor high jump, Ayoola secured All-American status at the 2018 national meet by placing eighth with a height of 1.68 meters. She also earned four All-UAA accolades on the season in the indoor shot put (2nd), outdoor shot put (2nd), indoor high jump (3rd) and outdoor high jump (3rd).
Over the course of her competitive career, Ayoola pulled in a combined 13 All-UAA honors in high jump and shot put. She owns the school record in the outdoor high jump (1.69 meters), while also ranking in UChicago's top 10 in the indoor high jump (3rd), indoor shot put (6th) and outdoor shot put (7th).
"We are thrilled for Ade in her recognition as UAA Woman of the Year! She is remarkable," said Erin McDermott, UChicago Director of Athletics and Recreation. "Her academic, athletic, and personal achievements are awe-inspiring and almost unimaginable. We are so proud of Ade and we look forward to the greatness that is yet to come for her and its benefit to humanity as she pursues a career in medicine. I have no doubt that she will continue to be a star in everything that she does."
Ayoola graduated in June with a bachelor's degree in biological chemistry. This past February, she was named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar among the inaugural class of 49 recipients. Ayoola will pursue a medical degree from Stanford University's School of Medicine while also taking part in the scholarship's global leadership program.
"The lessons of dedication, resilience, and teamwork that I carry away from my time as a student-athlete have been fundamental in shaping who I am today," Ayoola said. "Track and field has taught me discipline as it has required me to balance my time and activities as a student, an athlete, and a member of other co-curricular organizations. Every day was a dedication to the pursuits I strongly value, from academics to athletics, a practice in discipline, and a reaffirmation that hard work and commitment can translate into tangible accomplishments. My supportive coaches and amazing teammates have shown me how athletics can transform lives for the better. As I pursue a career in health care, I want to assist other students and young adults in experiencing the opportunities that being a student-athlete provide."
Outside of academics and athletics, Ayoola has been active in community service at home and abroad. She traveled to Nigeria for a research project investigating the occurrence of different types of diabetes in West Africa. While at UChicago, Ayoola took part in the Chemistry Collaborative Learning program that supplements the general chemistry curriculum. She also organized events and provided mentorship as a board member on the Phoenix Biology student group and as a volunteer at Hope City – a program geared towards Chicago middle school students.