Sweet Briar scholarships

Cynthia Plaugher (left) and Jesseca Ballard, who each are in their first year at Sweet Briar, are the Amherst college's 2019 Girl Scouts Gold Award Scholarship recipients. 

Sweet Briar College has awarded this year’s Girl Scouts Gold Award Scholarship to first-year students Jesseca Ballard and Cynthia Plaugher.

The partnership between Sweet Briar and the Girl Scouts of the USA, first announced in 2017, is in its second year. This year additional money was added to allow for up to seven scholarships annually. Only students who have completed the Girl Scouts Gold Award may apply.

“The Girl Scouts Gold Award Scholarship is funded by multiple generous Sweet Briar alumnae who are former Girl Scouts and who care deeply about advancing women’s leadership,” a news release from the college said.

“We’re so proud of these young women and what they have already accomplished with the Girl Scouts,” said Beth Clarke, acting vice president for enrollment management, said in the release. “We’re confident they will do great things at Sweet Briar!”

Ballard, of Leicester, North Carolina, is the daughter of Sweet Briar alumna Jennifer Ballard. She is interested in the college’s pre-veterinary track and plans to ride in the equestrian program.

Plaugher, of Fredericksburg, plans to study environmental science and also is interested in the college’s equestrian program.

Girl Scouts who have been accepted at Sweet Briar from anywhere in the United States can apply for one $2,500 award, and another five awards of $2,500 each are reserved for students in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas. A $5,000 award is designated for a Girl Scout from the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital.

All seven scholarship awards are available for eligible incoming first-year students from the designated geographic areas who have achieved the Girl Scout Gold Award and have been accepted to Sweet Briar College. The scholarship award is for the first year of study.

Scholarship winners are judged on the following criteria:

» Acceptance to Sweet Briar College and a commitment to attend

» Current (or recent) active membership in a Girl Scout troop and completion of the Girl Scout Gold Award (provide copy of the certificate or letter)

» Letter of recommendation from the troop leader

» Essay on your Gold Award project or how you have demonstrated a commitment to community service, leadership and/or sustainabilit

Gold Award winners can apply to Sweet Briar College at sbc.edu/admissions/apply-now. For more information contact Sweet Briar’s Office of Admissions at admissions@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6142.

New cross country, strength, conditioning coach named at SBC

Sweet Briar College has announced Rebekah Ricksecker is the Vixens’ new head cross country coach and head strength and conditioning coach.

“We are so excited about coach Ricksecker joining the Sweet Briar cross country program,” said Jodi Canfield, Sweet Briar’s athletics director, in a news release. “She experienced much success as a student-athlete and an eight-year coach with the Liberty University cross country and track and field programs. Her recruiting experience, coaching philosophy and leadership will be wonderful contributions to the Sweet Briar community.”

Ricksecker said she is excited for the opportunity to work with both programs and using the platform of athletics as a tool to empower student-athletes.

She spent the past eight seasons coaching cross country and track and field at Liberty University, including most recently as interim head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country programs during the 2018 season. Ricksecker began her collegiate coaching career in 2011 as a volunteer assistant coach in cross country and track.

Under Ricksecker, the Flames finished second at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship on the men’s and women’s side of competition, before posting the top regional finish in the last 10 years for the men and in eight years for the women. The 2018 cross country season also saw Azaria Kirwa qualify for the NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country Championship for the second-straight season.

As an assistant coach, Ricksecker contributed to 10 Big South Conference titles on the women’s side and back-to-back Eastern College Athletic Conference team championships in indoor track and field.

During her time at Liberty, Ricksecker worked with four NCAA national qualifiers and saw three of those national qualifiers obtain status as All-Americans.

Prior to joining the coaching staff at Liberty, Ricksecker competed for the Flames in cross country and track and field, participating in indoor and outdoor track. Ricksecker won five individual Big South Conference titles during her time with Liberty, finishing her career as a 13-time All-Big South performer.

In the 1500-meter run, Ricksecker became the only women’s runner in Big South history to win three conference titles in the event over the course of her career, according to the release. Ricksecker became the first Liberty woman to win the mile and 3K titles at the same conference meet during the 2010 Big South Indoor Track and Field Championships.

A school record-holder at Liberty, as part of the outdoor distance medley relay, Ricksecker earned all-region in cross country during the 2008 season.

A native of Laurel, Delaware, Ricksecker graduated from Liberty with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, in 2009 and 2011.

— From staff reports

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Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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