DAVIS, Calif. -- UC Davis senior swimmer Hilvy Cheung became the eighth student-athlete to be named the recipient of an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, joining a group of 29 women from across the country to win the award, it was announced on Wednesday.
Cheung is the first member of the swimming and diving team to win the prestigious scholarship and joins previous Aggie winners Trevor Halsted (men's outdoor track), Neal Monson (men's basketball), Ana Marija Sola (women's soccer), Brian Ford (men's soccer), Katie Yamamura (gymnastics), Toki Sherbakov (men's tennis), and Randi Schuler (women's tennis), at the Division I level.
Before that, at the Division II level, UC Davis ranked first in the country in the number of NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners and stood 12th overall in Divisions I, II, and III, combined.
Based on academic achievement, athletic accomplishments, community service, and leadership, winners were culled from nominations open to senior student-athletes at 1,121 NCAA institutions across the country. Nomination packets go through regional selection committees and, from there, to a national committee.
The native of Fremont, Calif., will graduate this coming weekend with a degree in animal science, posting a 3.84 cumulative grade point average. She ranked first in her class for five consecutive quarters, earned grades of A or A-plus in 31 different classes, and will finish her degree ranked the top four percent of almost 2,900 seniors in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.
She has received the American Society of Animal Science Scholastic Achievement Award for two consecutive years (presented to the top 10% of animal science majors in universities across the U.S.), the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Academic Honor, and the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar Award. A 9-time Dean’s List honoree, Hilvy also received the Alfred J. Hoefer Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
In the pool, Cheung enjoyed a decorated three-year career before missing her senior season due to injury. The 2014 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Freshman of the Year, she was a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier as a freshman and junior in both the 100 and 200 fly, helping the Aggies to conference titles in each of those two years. Cheung finished 49th in the 100 and 37th in the 200 in her first NCAA trip, improving on both finishes two years later, ending the championships in 31st in the 100 and narrowly missing out on a second swim with a 17th-place finish in the 200 fly.
She earned individual MPSF titles in the 100 and 200 fly in 2014 and the 200 fly in 2016, while also contributing to a pair of 400 medley relay crowns. Cheung holds school records in the 100 fly (52.73) and 200 fly (1:56.07), while also holding a spot on three school-record relay squads: 200 free (1:31.68), 200 medley (1:39.89), and 400 medley (3:38.47).
Outside of her academic and athletic accomplishments, Cheung developed and presented an Aggie Life Skills program open to student-athletes on all 23 teams, served as a keeper aide at the Sacramento Zoo, and judged a Future Farmers of America competition.
The 2016 Dr. Hubert Heitman Award winner as the top female student-athlete at UC Davis, Cheung also completed a number of internships at the UC Davis Dairy, the Davis Small Animal Hospital, the Aggie Animal Clinic, as well as the Center for Integrative Animal Medicine where she assisted with canine acupuncture treatments.
Under the guidance of Dr. Martin Smith and Dr. Melissa Bain at the School of Veterinary Medicine, Cheung helped rewrite a new national 4-H Dog Care and Training curriculum that is currently being beta tested before undergoing peer review. That unpaid internship evolved into a paid leadership position where she is currently writing 4-H curriculum on the conflicts between livestock and predators and supervising seven interns. The livestock/predator project will be finished in 2019 and then implemented nationally with 2.6 million 4-H STEM and Agriculture Program students across the country.
Having accepted admission to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall of 2017, she hopes to practice as a small animal vet and eventually complete the three-year residency program required for American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care certification.