Michigan State Spartan Lea Mitchell was announced yesterday as the winner of the Big Ten Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship for for 2021. The annual scholarship is a $10,000 award based on athletes’ achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership and given to one male and one female athlete in the Big Ten for postgraduate studies.
Lea Mitchell is the first female athlete for Michigan State, and the second overall, to win the award. Spartan alumnus Scott Piper of the Men’s Swimming & Diving team won the award in 2020.
— MSU Gymnastics (@MSUgymnastics) February 18, 2021
Congrats to our very own Lea Mitchell on earning the @bigten Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship!
Mitchell becomes the 1st MSU female student-athlete to receive this honor, and only the second Spartan overall!
#GoGreen | @leasimone__ pic.twitter.com/QTm2WIiFVd
The Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award is named after former Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke. Duke was commissioner from 1971 to 1989 and is lauded for his focus on improving the Big Ten’s academic standards and graduation rates of student-athletes.
In the announcement by Spartan Athletics yesterday, they note some of Mitchell’s outstanding accomplishments that led to her winning. Those include:
“We are so thrilled in hearing the announcement of Lea Mitchell as the recipient of the 2021 Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship Award,” MSU gymnastics head coach Mike Rowe said. “I am biased, but Lea is really the whole package! She excels in time-management, organizational skills, perseverance and every opportunity to achieve success. Her leadership, along with community outreach is exemplary, and she is known for sharing her methods with her teammates and others. She is a true Spartan through and through. On behalf of the Michigan State gymnastics program, congratulations Lea on this amazing achievement!”
Mitchell is a three-time captain and four-year member of the Michigan State gymnastics team and a 2020 first-team All-Big Ten selection. Mitchell maintains a 3.96 grade-point average, majoring in journalism with minors in broadcast journalism and sport journalism. In the gym, Mitchell has earned several awards, including the highest MSU point scorer and team MVP for the past three seasons, a Big Ten Gymnast to Watch, the school record for points as a freshman and MSU’s Newcomer of the Year honor that same season.
In addition to her work in the gym, she is one of two representatives from the gymnastics team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), a leadership committee organized to provide insight on the student-athlete experience. Mitchell is very active in her local community, volunteering with Teams for Toys, Children’s Miracle Network, Special Olympics, Student-Athlete Food Drives and Spartan Buddies. Mitchell currently plans to continue her education, pursuing her postgraduate degree in journalism. She is currently a member of Big Ten Network’s (BTN) Student U, where she has been able to gain various experiences within sports broadcasting at campus athletic events.