Dozen Bruins Named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars
FAIRFAX, Va. – Twelve UCLA student-athletes – including sport winners Natalie Chou, Samantha Sakti and Kinsley Washington, as well as finalist Shea Pitts – were named 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education announced Thursday in its annual special report edition.
Joining Chou (women's basketball), Sakti (gymnastics), Washington (softball) and Pitts (football) as honorees were Marley Canales (women's soccer), Gabby Dang (swimming and diving), Jackie Gilday (women's soccer), Chase Griffin (football), Paula Jaramillo (rowing), Jillian Martinez (women's soccer), Kaleb Tuliau (football) and Sara Ulias (gymnastics).
Since 1992, Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar awards have been presented to undergraduate students of color who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field.
Inspired by tennis legend Arthur Ashe, Jr.'s commitment to education as well as his love for the game of tennis, U.S. colleges and universities are invited to participate in this annual awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability and academic performance (3.5 cumulative GPA or higher), Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars demonstrate a commitment to community service and student leadership.
Male and female Sports Scholars of the Year were selected from three-finalist lists. Pitts was recognized as one of three male finalists after being deemed a top-20 candidate in 2021. Chou, Sakti and Washington were each announced as her sport's winner.
Co-founder and president of Asian-American Athletes, a student-athlete group at UCLA, graduate student Chou scored more than 1,000 career points in her career. For her work in the classroom, she was twice named to the Pac-12 Winter Academic Honor Roll.
Senior Sakti, who was also named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar in 2021, matched her personal-best performance of 9.950 on balance beam during the 2022 season. A three-time Women's College Gymnastics Association Scholastic All-American, she has partnered with organizations like Be The Match and the National Eating Disorders Association in the community.
Washington, a redshirt senior, has made the UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll eight times. She earned All-Pac-12 Defensive Team, All-Pac-12 Third Team and NFCA All-Region First Team accolades in 2021 and has been involved with a number of clubs on campus, including Student-Athlete Mentors (SAMs), Bruin Athletic Council and the Pre-Physician Assistant Club.
Pitts has served in mentorship roles for a number of young people in the Los Angeles area and participated in fundraising events for victims of genocide in Myanmar and the Los Angeles Blind Children's Center, among other causes. The senior is a 12-time member of the UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll and has accumulated 20 total tackles – including two for negative yardage – and one sack in 34 career games.
A fourth-round pick of OL Reign in the 2022 NWSL Draft, graduate student Canales was an All-Pac-12 performer for UCLA in 2020 and 2021. She also took part in activities focused on suicide prevention, positive body image and fighting against drunk driving as a member of SAMs and was named a Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention pick in 2018.
Junior Dang, a qualifier for the 2021 NCAA Championships in the 100 fly, is co-president of the Asian-American Student-Athlete Alliance at UCLA. She was also tabbed a CSCAA First Team Scholar All-American for 2020-21 and earned a spot on the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll for Winter 2021.
An honoree for the second time in as many years, junior Gilday has twice been named to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll. A member of Nicaragua's U-20 team during the 2-2- CONCACAF U-20 Championships, she works as volunteer children's advocate assistant in Volusia County Guardian Ad Litem program and represents her team on the Bruin Athletic Council.
Two-time honoree Griffin spent much of his redshirt sophomore campaign on the scout team after throwing for six touchdowns in four 2021 games. Off the field, he is an eight-time member of the UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll and his Be11eve Brand has raised more than $9,000 and donated more than 35,000 meals through the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank's BackPack Program.
Senior Jaramillo has rowed exclusively in the Bruins' second varsity eight crew this season. Out of the water, she is a nine-time member of the UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll who helped build houses in Colombia as part of the nonprofit organization Un Techo para Mi Pais and has worked with the Surfrider Foundation and the Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles.
Martinez played in 10 games for UCLA during her two seasons after enrolling as the Texas Gatorade State Player of the Year. A member of the 2021 Pac-12 Fall Academic Honor Roll, she has encouraged Los Angeles-area children to stay physically active as part of the Athletes for Hope Fit program and was named the Athletes for Hope Student-Athlete of the Year.
Also an honoree in 2021, redshirt sophomore Tuliau was selected to wear UCLA legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's No. 37 on the practice field due to his outstanding scout-team performance last season. He is a two-time Pac-12 Fall Academic Honor Roll member and has helped children at 186th Street Elementary School's "Super Bowl Spirit Day" and as a volunteer at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital.
Sophomore Ulias posted a career-best score of 9.850 on floor exercise during the Bruins' recently-completed season. She is a five-time UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll member and participated in the "Stop Asian Hate" PSA for UCLA Athletics and participated in Black Lives Matter initiatives in 2021.