The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (“ITA”) is pleased to announce the four finalists for the inaugural ITA Sally Ride STEM Award as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy. 

This year’s finalists include Lauren Gillinov (Yale), Adriene Pavek (Idaho State), Elizabeth Stefancic (Marshall), and Anna Tifrea (CalTech). 

The ITA Sally Ride STEM Award, as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy, was created to honor a female student-athlete who demonstrates zeal, dedication, and perseverance towards her tennis training and competition, STEM studies, and long-term goals.

“I am absolutely thrilled with the quality and character of the four finalists for the inaugural ITA Sally Ride STEM Award,” said Tam O’Shaughnessy. “Sally would love that one of these extraordinary scholar-athletes, who loves tennis and science just like she did, will be supported in her dreams.” 

Timothy Russell, Chief Executive Officer of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, describes the ITA’s excitement about the new honor and prize: “We are incredibly grateful to Tam O’Shaughnessy for her vision, leadership, and thoughtful generosity in creating this award, which both honors Sally Ride and demonstrates the extraordinary breadth and depth of academic achievement of college women tennis players.”

The recipient of the award will receive a grant in the amount of eight thousand dollars ($8,000) to pursue her dreams. The award money given to the student-athlete may be used in any way she wishes [e.g., tuition, books, rent, etc.]

In addition, the ITA will also donate two-thousand dollars ($2,000) to the women’s tennis program of the institution from which the award winner graduated.

Lauren Gillinov | Yale University | NCAA Division I

For Lauren Gillinov, playing college tennis had always been a lifelong dream. Picking up the sport at the age of eleven, Gillinov dedicated herself to becoming the best player that she could possibly be, putting in extra work in what free time she had outside of school. This dedication and hard work soon paid off as Gillinov was offered a position to play at Yale where she could further her passion for both tennis and academics. Here Gillinov not only set high expectations on the court but pushed the limits off the court as well, working towards becoming an orthopedic surgeon once her days as a student-athlete were over. Earning the Delaney Kiphuth Award which honors the Yale student-athlete with the highest GPA, Gillinov is now wrapping up her first year at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine where she is well on her way to achieving another lifelong goal of hers. 

Adriene Pavek | Idaho State University | NCAA Division I 

Many have come to know Adriene Pavek for her high-flying play on the tennis court for Idaho State University, but what many don’t know is her success off the court as she prepares to graduate with an Honors Bachelor’s degree in Biology this spring. Driven to pursue a career as a physician, Pavek has always been someone who cares for others ever since a young age. After caring for her grandmother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Pavek knew that healthcare was the path for her. At Idaho State, Pavek has not only lived out her dreams as a tennis player but has grown in her future career by volunteering at local clinics. After she graduates, Pavek will start working towards her MD where she has already been accepted into two different medical schools. Here she hopes to continue to utilize the lessons learned on the court and in the classroom to achieve her lifelong dream. 

Elizabeth Stefancic | Marshall University | NCAA Division I 

To some, juggling being a member of a D1 tennis team and majoring in a STEM field may sound daunting. However, for Marshall’s Elizabeth Stefancic, she not only accomplished this but thrived while doing it as well. Pursuing a Biochemistry degree, Stefancic knew going into college that Marshall would be a place where she could pursue her passion for tennis and grow intellectually. It has never been easy, but Stefancic has made the most of her opportunities and has set up herself for a future career in medicine. The long hours and dedication have not gone unnoticed. Stefancic has received several scholarships and recognitions for her work including a NASA Fellowship to continue her genetics research.

Anna Tifrea | California Institute of Technology | NCAA Division III 

From a young age, Anna Tifrea had two main passions, tennis and STEM. After playing junior tennis tournaments during the day, Tifrea would go home and be greeted by her father who is a physicist, and her mother who is a medical researcher. The opportunity to compete in tennis while learning from the wealth of knowledge that resided at home became something that Tifrea came to love and sought out in college. At CalTech, Tifrea was inspired and challenged. While competing on the women’s tennis team, her passion for STEM deepened. Tifrea was involved in Alzheimer’s research and she is in the process of beginning research on Crohn’s disease. After graduation, Tifrea will enroll in the MD/PhD program at the University of California, San Diego where she intends to become a medical doctor with a PhD in Biophysics. 

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