MIT master's student and recent graduate Maryann Gong '17, a student-athlete on the MIT Women's Cross Country and MIT Women's Track and Field teams, has earned the 2016-17 CoSIDA Division III Academic All-America of the Year Award, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). This is the second consecutive year that Gong has been named the NCAA Division III's top Academic All-America scholar-athlete across all sports. With the award, she is the first Division III student-athlete to earn the honor in back-to-back years and just the second overall among all divisions.
"It really means a lot to me to receive this award," Gong says. "These past four years have been a roller coaster, and have taught me what it really means to be a student-athlete. None of this would have been possible without Coach [Halston] Taylor, my teammates, and DAPER [the MIT Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation] and all the support and encouragement I've received. It inspires me to keep trying my best and make the MIT community proud!"
Gong, who graduated from MIT this spring with a 4.00 GPA (5.00 under MIT's weighted grading system) as an electrical engineering and computer science major, is a 15-time NCAA Division III All-American in cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field. A three-time CoSIDA Division III Academic All-America women's track & field/cross country First Team selection, Gong received the NCAA Elite 90 Award at the 2017 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championship. A nominee for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year Award from MIT, Gong was named an All-American in the indoor distance medley relay (DMR), mile, and 3,000-meter events in 2017. The MIT Engineers finished as national runner-up in the DMR behind a strong closing finish from Gong.
"Maryann has been the greatest success story in the brief story of our women's track and field/cross country program," says MIT Track and Field and Cross Country Head Coach Halston Taylor. "She epitomizes what Division III is about. She does not ever sacrifice her academic success for her pursuit of athletic excellence. Although she has earned 15 All-America awards, including an individual national title, she has done so after taking care of her academic obligations."
"Maryann is the model of what I want our program to be," Taylor adds. "She found a way to do it all and put everything in the right perspective. I am blessed to have had her compete for us for four years at MIT. She has moved up almost single handedly to national prominence, particularly in indoor track and field. She will not be replaced and will always be missed."
Gong, who is pursuing her master's degree from MIT in engineering concentrating on artificial intelligence, was named the 2014 USTFCCCAA National Track Athlete of the Year and captured the 2015 NCAA Division III 3,000-meter indoor national championship. The team captain in both cross country and track and field won the 2017 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference outdoor 1,500-meter title was a three-time All-New England performer in 2016-17 and was named to the academic all-conference team six times in her career. The Livermore, California, native is the two-time winner of the Malcolm G. Kispert Award (2015 and 2017) as the top MIT female scholar-athlete.
"We are very proud of Maryann for being named as the Division III Academic All-America of the Year for the second straight year," says MIT Director of Athletics Julie Soriero. "This is an amazing accomplishment by an incredible young woman and something that shows how hard she worked both as a student and an athlete during her four years at MIT. Maryann is a great representative of the type of student-athlete that we have here at MIT and I am very happy that she has been recognized for a second time with this tremendous honor."
During her time at MIT, Gong has participated in several internships. She was a Double-Click Bid Management Front End Intern at Google, a Google Speech Team Data Infrastructure Intern, and a software engineer intern at A4 Data Technology. Gong has also served as the treasurer for Engineers Without Borders, fundraising for bridge-building programs in Malawi, and has served as a researcher for Data-Driven Inference Group at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
The Division III Academic All-America program is financially supported by the NCAA Division III national governance structure to assist CoSIDA with handling the awards fulfillment aspects for the 2016-17 Division II Academic All-America teams program. This is the sixth year that CoSIDA has named Division III Academic All-America teams.