The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Program has been in place since 1964, offering select individuals across all three divisions of college athletics the chance to pursue a postgraduate education based on their outstanding accomplishments from the field and the classroom.
Speaking to the award’s prestige, only ten individuals in the history of Shippensburg University have been awarded NCAA postgraduate scholarships since it began fifty-four years ago.
This spring, however, the honor came full circle.
Madison Scarr, senior field hockey player and Student Government Association president, became the tenth SU honoree in March. An accounting major, Scarr was actively involved in the John L. Grove College of Business. She graduated summa cum laude in May with a 3.83 cumulative GPA.
At this year’s commencement ceremony, Scarr shared a moment with Dr. Tony Winter, recently retired associate dean of Grove College. Winter was SU’s first NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient in 1976, and he went on to study at Arizona State University.
The two interacted often throughout their time at Shippensburg, especially during Scarr’s sophomore year when she served as the Grove College senator for the Student Government Association.
“Dr. Winter was always ready to talk business, but not a meeting passed without him asking about how the field hockey team was doing. Especially for our big games and in the playoffs, Dr. Winter always sent me an e-mail to give his luck to the team. He was not only a huge supporter of me, but to many students. His sense of humor and kind heart never goes unnoticed, and is greatly appreciated by many.”
Scarr, who is working on her MBA, will use her $7,500 scholarship toward her continuing education at Shippensburg. After that, she plans to sit for the CPA exam.
“The athletic scholarship I received during my undergraduate career helped greatly, but no longer receiving that made me question how I was going to cover the additional costs of graduate work. This scholarship relieved a lot of uncertainty that I had when debating whether or not I could afford the expenses.”
“It’s not only a financial help, but an honor,” Scarr added. “To be awarded with the same scholarship as nine other phenomenal Ship athletes is beyond humbling. This honor will carry me through graduate school and motivate me when the waves are rough.”
Whereas the scholarship offers the possibilities of a bright future for Scarr, it also offers Winter the opportunity to reflect.
“It is certainly quite evident to see how blessed I was to have had so many individuals at Ship who cared about and supported me during my educational and professional journey,” Winter said. “The influence and impact of these individuals and many others not only helped to pave the way for my professional career, but also planted the seed in me to ‘pay it forward’ during my memorable thirty-nine-year career at Ship.”
The return-to-Ship journey for Winter dates back to the mid-1970s, when accounting professor Dr. C. William “Bill” Knerr took the time to nominate him for the Postgraduate Scholarship. After Winter graduated and worked for a year, he found the right match thanks to his former head football coach, Joe Mark.
Winter had identified several schools at which he hoped to pursue his MBA, and Mark went out of his way to contact the head football coaches at each school. That way, Winter could assist as a football coach while pursuing his master’s studies.
“Since Linda, my girlfriend and now my wife of forty years, had visited Arizona State to see a childhood friend living in Tempe a year before I graduated from Ship, and because Coach Mark opened the door on a potential assistantship with Coach Frank Kush, I decided to become a Sun Devil and pursue my MBA at ASU,” Winter said. “I had a tremendous experience during my two years at ASU both in the classroom and on the football field. You see, if it wouldn’t have been for caring and committed individuals at Ship like Dr. Knerr and Coach Mark, I would have never found my way to ASU, which began to lay the foundation for my career in higher education.”
Forty-two years separate SU’s first and tenth Postgraduate Scholarship honorees. This year’s award marks the end of one Ship journey, and the beginning of another.
“Dr. Winter is such an inspiration and role model; it is an extreme honor to have been awarded the same NCAA postgraduate scholarship,” Scarr said. “I consider myself blessed and fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Winter on both a personal and professional level.”
Winter added, “The people at Ship are truly what makes it the same special place it is today, and what it was when I first arrived on campus forty-five years ago as a transfer student from Lebanon Valley College worried about finding my way at Shippensburg State College. Perhaps Madison, our most recent scholarship recipient, will complete her business studies and one day return to Ship as a young professional to impact the lives of future Ship students.”