Oakland, CA–July 22, 2016
Melissa Berkay, the Mills College swimmer who made school history when she qualified for the NCAA Division III national championships in March, was named recently to the Scholar All-America Team for her academic and athletic achievements.
The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America selected Berkay to the Scholar All-America Team for achieving a GPA of 3.5 or higher and for making it to the NCAA championships.
Berkay, who made it to the top 16 finals race in the 200-yard butterfly at the championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, said when she’s not studying, she’s in the pool training—up to 25 hours a week.
“I’ve been trained my whole life to put swim practice and academics first,” Berkay said. “When I’m not in the pool, I’m in a tutoring session, studying or talking to a classmate about our lessons. I enjoy working hard, but there are sacrifices. I don’t go out and I don’t party.”
The 25 year-old junior who is majoring in music and minoring in journalism, is currently training for a 20.2-mile open water swim August 10 in the butterfly stroke from Santa Catalina Island to Rancho Palos, Verdes, in Southern California. Berkay organized the swim to raise money for non-profit organizations that aid the homeless and affordable housing. If successful, she will be the first American woman to complete the swim in the butterfly stroke.
Themy Adachi, Mills Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Athletics, said Berkay epitomizes the Mills scholar-athlete.
“She’s all in,” Adachi said. “Swimming across the Catalina channel to raise money to fight destitution and homelessness is a perfect example of her zeal to make this world a more just and inclusive place.”