Valentina Herrera, an industrial management major and operations research and information systems minor at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, was recently selected as the 2017 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award national team winner for women’s golf, as announced by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine. She is also one of only 20 female student-athletes nationwide who were selected as semifinalists for the Female Sports Scholar of the Year award.
Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Herrera was chosen from a competitive group of more than 1,200 outstanding minority student-athletes nominated by their respective institutions. She was first made aware of the award by her coach and the director of women’s golf at the University of Cincinnati, Janet Carl. “I was honored to have been nominated and shocked that I won!” Herrera says. “Coach Carl is the one who brought me to the University of Cincinnati and gave me the opportunity to pursue my education at UC. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from her.”
Inspired by the tennis legend's commitment to expanding educational opportunities for young people, the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award honors undergraduate students who have excelled in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. Herrera joins a growing list of past Ashe scholars who have gone on to achieve great success, including Baylor University’s Robert Griffin III (2011), the University of Tennessee’s Kara Lawson (2003), and San Diego State University’s Marshall Faulk (1993).
Despite her grueling golf schedule, Herrera has accomplished quite an impressive list of accolades over the course of her four years at the University of Cincinnati. In addition to carrying a 3.7 cumulative grade point average (GPA), she has been named to the Dean’s list six times, the Bearcat honor roll seven times, was selected for the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team in 2014, 2015 and 2016, was named a WGCA All-American Scholar in 2015 and 2016, and was inducted into the UC athletics Legion of Excellence in 2016. Herrera is also heavily involved in community service projects through the University of Cincinnati athletics department, UC's Center for Community Engagement, and UC's Office of Sustainability. She’s taken part in holiday events at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, has helped raise money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and occasionally volunteers at local food banks and homeless shelters.
Golf wasn’t the only factor when Herrera decided to come to the University of Cincinnati. She was also highly interested in the industrial management program at the Lindner College of Business, citing that there are numerous career avenues she can take after graduating. Herrera credits her decision to pursue a minor in information systems after taking an introductory course on computers taught by Lindner professor Dave Rapien. “He teaches more than just the course itself,” she explains. “He also explores real-world experiences and emerging technologies.” She also enjoyed her freshman year experience and Lindner Fast Track projects, especially the aspect of working with her team who, she mentions, were tasked with doing a strategic analysis of Cincinnati-based design agency LPK. “Everything I have learned at Lindner, I now have the basis to take it further to my masters, especially what I learned in information systems.”
Aside from her love of golf, Herrera takes an interest in what many may not know has been a key component of her upbringing and will shape the rest of her career. “I’m very passionate about the environment,” she states. “I do everything I can to be eco-friendly and teach people about sustainability.” Raised in Colombia, Herrera attended The Rochester School, which is certified as an LEED school, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The school maintains a commitment to low environmental impact and educates its students on concepts relating to sustainable energy. After graduation, Herrera hopes to obtain her Master’s in Renewable Energy at one of the three European schools she has applied to: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, or Uppsala University, Sweden.