Southern Arkansas University had two female student-athletes nominated for the 2022 NCAA Woman of the Year award. Senior tennis player Serena Gill, and senior track & field athlete Kamrin Hooks were SAU's two nominees among the NCAA's 576 female nominees.
Established in 1991, the award recognizes female student-athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in their community, in athletics and in academics throughout their college careers.
This year's nominees represent all three NCAA divisions, including 247 from Division I, 127 from Division II and 202 from Division III. Of the 576 nominations, 23 sports are represented, with 125 student-athletes competing in multiple sports.
Gill, a native of Wolverhampton, England, arrived at SAU in the fall of 2018, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in General Business with a minor in Economics after being a member of the tennis team for the past four seasons.
Gill has been involved in numerous activities off the court, ranging from community service, campus activities, and leadership positions. Gill served as the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee during the 2021-2022 school year, while also serving as the President of Muleriders for Life and President of Business Student Advisory Council in the spring of 2022.
The England native participated in Muleriders for Micah, the 9/11 climb, the Green Bandana Project, and countless other events such as volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club and giving tennis lessons to children once a week. Gill was nice named to the President's list in the spring of 2022, and the fall of 2021, while being named to the Dean's list in the spring of 2021, and the spring of 2020. Gill was the nominee for the 2020-2021 Murphy USA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
"Experiences shape individuals in so many different and unique ways. I am someone who has been so lucky to have had so many great experiences during my time at Southern Arkansas University. Not only did I have the privilege of playing and competing at a high level, but I also got the chance to influence the next generation that walk where I have been. Through many volunteer opportunities and community outreach events, I have been able to gain an insight on what a community means," said Gill.
Hooks arrived in Magnolia in the fall of 2019 from Shreveport, La. The Louisiana native graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in History and carried a 3.99 GPA. Hooks is now pursuing a masters degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on Social Entrepreneurship.
In her first meet in a Mulerider uniform, Hooks would take first place in the 200m dash after clocking a 26.51. The 2022 track and field season saw hooks break a 32-year old school record in the 200m dash and also earn First Team All-GAC in three events. Hooks clocked a 24.84. in the Carl Kight Invitational to break the 32-year old record, and then finished in second place in the 200m dash in the GAC Championships to earn First Team All-GAC. The sprinter would also earn two more All-GAC First Team nods in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays for her senior season.
Hooks excelled off the track and inside of the classroom, as she was name to the President's List on three separate occasion including, fall (2019), fall (2020), spring (2022), while being named in the Dean's list in the spring of 2020. She was named SAU's Most Outstanding Political Science/History/Geography Student of the Year in 2022.
On campus, Hooks served in the Student Government Association for three years, was the Vice President of Active Minds, was the Treasurer in the Pre-Law Club for three years, and helped out with the National Society of Leadership and Success when it came to social media and keeping the public informed. Hooks was also a President's Ambassador for SAU, while also serving on committee chairs in the HBCU for Life: A Call to Action Based Community Service and Women's Healthcare and Wellness Based Community Service.
Hooks was nominated for SAU's Most Outstanding Women's Track Athlete of the Year in 2022, as well as SAU's Track and Field's Dr. Margaret Downing Female Athlete of the Year nominee. In 2021 she was SAU Track and Field's Murphy USA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year nominee.
"As a representative of your school and program, the spotlight that shines on a student-athlete is bright. Before COVID, I was an unsure athlete who did not believe in herself. While COVID did bring many hardships, it also brought time and perseverance. I learned that nothing stood between me and achieving my goals but myself; I worked hard while staying safe and returned to school ready to inspire others. As a leader and someone my coach relied on to observe, I made suggestions on weaknesses I saw in myself and others. I pushed them to be their best, and they pushed me. Being someone that my teammates sought advice from made me a confident, compassionate, and empathetic woman," said Hooks.
The conference offices will now select up to two student-athletes from their member school nominations. The Woman of the Year Selection Committee will then select 10 student-athletes from each division, determining the Top 30 honorees.
Of the Top 30, the Woman of the Year Selection Committee will announce nine finalists, three from each NCAA division. For the first time in the award's history, the Top 30 honorees will be celebrated and the Woman of the Year will be named at the NCAA Convention. The 2023 Convention will take place in January in San Antonio.