USC Upstate senior distance runner and multiple A-Sun individual champion Gilbert Kemboi has received a myriad of awards and honors since stepping foot on campus as a freshman in 2009. He can add yet another honor to his resume as a recipient of the prestigious NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
Kemboi, from Eldoret, Kenya, was one of the 58 fall student-athletes from all NCAA member institutions encompassing Divisions I, II and III to earn the prestigious postgraduate scholarship from the association. To qualify, student-athletes must excel academically and athletically, be in their final year of eligibility and plan to pursue graduate study. Student-athletes must also maintain at least a 3.2 grade-point average and be nominated by their institution’s faculty athletics representative. The postgraduate scholarship program was created in 1964 to promote and encourage education by rewarding the NCAA’s most accomplished student-athletes.
“I am very excited and humbled to receive the postgraduate scholarship,” said Kemboi. “Being one of the recipients is a great privilege. I am very motivated to work even harder than I have, because I will hold myself accountable for this opportunity. Moreover, I owe a lot of appreciation to different people who made this scholarship possible and to everyone who has played a role in making me who and what I am. I also want to thank the University for its support. I am happy to be a part of Upstate.”
“Gilbert is truly an impressive individual and we could not be happier for him in receiving the NCAA postgraduate scholarship,” said Mike Hall, Director of Athletics at Upstate. “He has worked extremely hard in his academic and athletic pursuits and has achieved many great things in his time at Upstate. The Spartan family could not be more proud of him and his accomplishments. We are excited that this scholarship will allow Gilbert to further pursue his education and serve as a tremendous ambassador for our department and university.”
Kemboi is the quintessential student-athlete. In the classroom, he owns a 3.545 GPA as a major in Sociology. He has been named the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year five times in cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field since the league began the award in 2011-12. He has earned the Conference Scholar classification from the A-Sun, is a three-time member of the A-Sun All-Academic team and is a multiple winner of the academic all-conference teams in cross country and track & field.
Kemboi has been equally strong athletically. He is a 12-time individual champion in the A-Sun. He has won three-straight cross country championships after a second-place finish as a freshman, leading the men’s team to back-to-back titles 2011 and 2012. He is a two-time all-region selection and narrowly missed out on All-America status at the 2012 NCAA Nationals. He is a four-time champion in the 5,000-meter race and a three-time champion in the 3,000-meter race at the A-Sun Indoor Track & Field Championships and owns the meet records in both distances. He won the 10,000-meter and 5,000-meter races at the 2012 A-Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships and owns the meet record in the 10,000 meters. He has earned 14 all-conference honors and has been named the A-Sun Most Outstanding Runner/Performer five times in cross country and track & field.
Kemboi has also been active in community service and leadership during his time at Upstate. He has served as a volunteer with the USC Upstate Orientation staff, the local S.P.A.C.E. organization and is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, International Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“Gilbert is the true definition of a student-athlete,” said associate head coach Carson Blackwelder, who heads up the distance program at Upstate. “He brings the same work ethic to the track and the classroom. This will be a great opportunity for Gilbert to continue his education and earn a graduate degree. We are very proud of him and his academic achievements.”
Kemboi plans on using the NCAA postgraduate scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Sociology with the goal of becoming a college professor.