(INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.) – Carnegie Mellon University senior track and field athlete Debarati Bhanja (New Albany, Ohio/New Albany) is set to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship for excelling academically and athletically while showing leadership and commitment to the community. Twenty-one males and 21 females across all three NCAA divisions were chosen as recipients for the spring sports.
Bhanja was selected from a group of nominees participating in golf, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, rowing, beach volleyball, softball, tennis and water polo.
Known for her sprinting prowess, Bhanja reached the pinnacle of her career at the 2019 University Athletic Association (UAA) Outdoor Track and Field Championships when she won the 400-meter dash in a career-best time of 57.45 seconds. The senior also set the school record in the 200-meter dash at the same meet, placing fourth in the finals.
The 200-meter dash record was the fifth Carnegie Mellon record set during Bhanja's career, as she also holds the record in the 100-meter dash and both indoor and outdoor 1,600-meter relays. Bhanja shares the top spot in the outdoor long jump, a record she set as a freshman.
Bhanja is a five-time All-Region honoree and three-time UAA Champion, winning the 400-meter dash twice in 2019 and the indoor long jump title in 2016.
While serving as team captain for two years, Bhanja also exuded leadership qualities in the roles of President and Vice President of Kappa Alpha Theta. She also volunteered with Hospice patients and Special Olympics, held a clinical preceptorship at UPMC, and was a mentor for middle school students who were interested in pursuing higher education, specifically in STEM fields.
A graduate in neurobiology with a minor in biomedical engineering, Bhanja gained professional experience as a clinical research assistance at Biomotivate, a health technology start-up in Pittsburgh, and as a corporate healthcare research intern at Guidepoint in New York City. Bhanja also held research positions at Carnegie Mellon as a National Science Foundation summer undergraduate research fellow and at Keck Graduate Institute, where her contributions culminated into a poster presentation at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists research conference. She also served as a teaching assistant and supplemental instructor during her semesters on campus.
Bhanja finished her undergraduate career with a 3.82 GPA in neurobiology, earning University Honors and Mellon College of Science Research Honors. Throughout her time at Carnegie Mellon, she was named the 2019 Panhellenic Woman of the Year by Carnegie Mellon University Greek Life and was inducted to Nu Rho Psi National Honor Society in 2018.
Because Bhanja maintained a GPA above 3.50 in conjunction with finishing the season ranked nationally in the top 50 of a track and field event, she has twice received All-Academic honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Currently, Bhanja is working full-time at Guidepoint as a Healthcare Research Associate while working part-time at Biomotivate as an Opioid Addiction Clinical Researcher in New York. She plans to apply to medical school for entrance in 2020.
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship is awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically, and are in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition or have completed their athletic eligibility. The Association awards up to 126 postgraduate scholarships annually, 63 for men and 63 for women. This season's NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipients (21 men and 21 women) represent spring sports participants, who will receive a one-time, nonrenewable grant of $10,000 to be used for graduate study within one year of the award.
Bhanja is the fifth Carnegie Mellon student-athlete to receive the scholarship this academic year, the most among Division III schools for 2018-19 and second only to Stanford University's six awardees for the year.
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage postgraduate education by rewarding the Association's most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports.