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Campbell, Mann earn academic honors at Southeast Missouri State's annual banquet
Southeast Missouri State seniors Kody Campbell and Emily Mann take pride in having been able to juggle athletics and academics during their college years.
Their diligence was recognized earlier this week when they earned top honors during Southeast's annual scholar-athlete reception.
Campbell won the Jewel Award and Mann the Trombetta Award, given annually to the graduating senior male and female athletes with the highest grade-point averages during their careers.
"It's pretty cool," said Campbell, a baseball player who carries a 3.95 GPA in sport management with a minor in business administration. "I didn't even know there was an award like that."
Campbell has shined both on the field and in the classroom not far from where he grew up in Oran, Mo. He said his parents stressed from an early age that he give things his all.
"They just wanted me to do the best I could, whether it be school or sports. That's what I did," said Campbell, who scored a 31 on his ACT while at Oran High School to earn the Missouri Bright Flight Academic Scholarship. "I did it in high school, and it just carried over.
"That's what I'm here to do -- go to school and get an education. Athletics are important, but the education is the most important thing."
Campbell, Southeast's starting first baseman this year, has been a key contributor to the Redhawks since his freshman season. He said combining strong athletics and academics has presented its share of challenges.
"It's tough sometimes. Playing sports takes a lot of time, but I've found ways to manage my time," he said. "I've always applied myself and things like that. It's always something I've wanted to do, and I've had some great professors who have helped me out."
Campbell, who will graduate in May, said he will continue attending Southeast to pursue a master's degree in higher education.
Campbell said he has his eyes set on being a college athletic director "somewhere down the line."
Mann, who came to Southeast as a gymnast, appreciated the recognition.
"I actually had no idea about it until I got there [the reception]. It was surprising, but it was nice," said Mann, a native of Lincoln, Neb., who has a 3.91 GPA in general studies with a double minor in communication disorders and psychology.
Mann's athletic career hit a roadblock at its midway point, but that didn't detract from what she was able to accomplish in the classroom.
Mann hasn't been able to compete the last two years because of various injuries after a standout first two seasons with the Southeast gymnastics team. She was a student assistant coach for the Redhawks this season.
"I was lucky enough to be able to help coach," Mann said. "I was involved with every aspect of the team except actually competing."
Her coaching experience has Mann considering that as a career.
Mann's immediate plans after graduating in May will be to attend graduate school at the University of Nebraska in her hometown.
"I want to try marketing or stay in athletics, maybe administration or even coaching," she said. "I got interested in it this year."
Mann, who has been a part of Southeast national academic championship gymnastics teams in 2009 and 2011, said combining athletics and academics has been a way of life for a long time.
"I was in gymnastics for 15 years. I started before I even started school," Mann said. "I haven't known gymnastics without the academic part. It was always natural for me. I always made time for academics. It was second nature to me."
A school-record 200 athletes were recognized during the scholar-athlete reception for achieving a 3.0 or better GPA this year. That mark represents more than 62 percent of all Southeast athletes. Nineteen athletes registered perfect 4.0 GPAs.
Eleven of Southeast's 15 intercollegiate athletic teams recorded a GPA of better than 3.0. The gymnastics squad posted the best mark with a 3.92.