BUJA NAMED TOP 30 FINALIST FOR NCAA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Top 30 nominee Megan Buja.
Sept. 3, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - It's a new year and there is another new accolade for recent graduate and former women's bowling star Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.). Buja was named a top 30 finalist for the coveted 2014 Woman of the Year Award, the NCAA announced yesterday afternoon. Buja was one of the top 30 selections out of 446 nominees. Even more impressively, she was one of just 10 selected from the Division I ranks.

Buja, along with fellow Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) nominee Christina Epps from Coppin State, made the list. Other Division I nominees include winners from Northwestern, Georgetown, Dartmouth, Arizona, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Stanford and Furman. The MEAC and the PAC-12 were the only leagues to get two nominees among the 30 finalists. "These women are perfect examples of NCAA student-athletes succeeding on the field, in the classroom and in life," said Gloria Nevarez, NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee chair and senior associate commissioner for the Pac-12 Conference. "We are impressed by their outstanding achievements, and no matter the paths they take after college, we are confident that they will continue to lead their peers for many years to come." The top 30 honorees reflect the pillars of the Woman of the Year award: outstanding achievements in academics, athletics, community service and leadership.

Buja certainly meets all of those criteria. In academics, she graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, bettering the group's average of an impressive 3.85. Combined the group has won seven NCAA Elite 89 Awards, of which Buja accounts for three. She also has two of the group's 49 Capital One Academic All-America honors.

Athletically, Buja has won four National Championships during her time at UMES, two of which were NCAA titles. The group as a whole has 27. Buja also has an All-America selection, one of the group's 38 awards.

Out of the classroom and off the lanes, Buja served as a team captain, one of the 27 in the field. She was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), serving as Vice-President. She is one of 20 members in the pool of 30 finalists. She also served the community, volunteering her time with tutoring, work in a women's shelter, clean-up projects in the town and work with youth.

 

 

"This is an amazing honor and I am humbled to represent UMES, the MEAC and especially the sport of women's bowling," said Buja. "Even though I graduated in May, to still be recognized for my time at UMES is a great feeling. I had a wonderful student-athlete experience and am thrilled that I am able to return to Princess Anne this year to further my education in the field if dietetics."

Earlier this season, Director of Athletics Keith Davidson, spoke of Buja's time at UMES. "Megan is the poster child for being a student-athlete," said Davidson. "She graduated in four years, with a 4.0 and four National Championships. Four seems to be her lucky number. She did all that not as a role player. She bowled so well she was an All-American, but on top of that she was an Academic All-American, never compromising her study time for practice time. She got the most out of her college experience, from scholarship, to sportsmanship to citizenship, she left UMES a better person and her time here made us a better department."

Upon hearing of this honor Davidson again wasn't surprised. "It is great that the NCAA is recognizing what we already know, the Megan Buja is truly a wonderful person, student and athlete. She is one of the finest to ever roam our Princess Anne campus and I am sure that all of her collegiate accolades are just the start of many great things that lie ahead of her, post college."

In late September, three finalists from each division will be selected to form the nine finalists for the award. The 2014 Woman of the Year will be announced at an annual ceremony in Indianapolis Oct. 19.

Buja's former coach and teammate Kristina Frahm (Oswego, Ill.) was also a top 30 finalist back in 2011.

"We have two top 30 selections from the women's bowling program at UMES," said women's bowling head coach Kayla Bandy. "I think that speaks volumes to the kind of young women that are in our program and the great things they accomplish during their time in Princess Anne. Megan is an ambassador not only for our team, but for our school and I can't be more grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as her coach."

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