The Horizon League nominates UIC women’s swimmer Anne Jacobsen (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
One of the most prestigious NCAA awards, the NCAA established the Woman of the Year Award in 1991 to celebrate the achievements of women in intercollegiate athletics. The unique award, now in it its 25th year, recognizes academic achievements, athletics achievements, community service and leadership. To be eligible, these women must have been nominated by their athletic department, competed and earned a varsity letter in an NCAA-sponsored sport and must have exhausted eligibility in their primary sport.
Jacobsen, who graduated in May with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry, served as the President of UIC's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) during the 2014-15 academic year. Jacobsen was one of UIC's most active student-athletes on campus and in the local community. She was a board member on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, Student Tuition Advisory Committee and Student Fees Advisory Committee.
Jacobsen served as a captain for the swimming & diving program the last two seasons. She also volunteered her time at the U of I Hospital and Rush University Hospital.
This past November, Jacobsen and men's tennis player Mitch Granger helped found SPARK (Students Performing Acts of Random Kindness). A UIC student-athlete founded service program, SPARK'S sole mission is to feed the homeless population of Chicago using money donated through friends, family and supporters of the cause.
With the help of several viral YouTube videos, SPARK's volunteer staff has more than quadrupled since November. SPARK has received local media attention as the program has appeared on AOL News, Fox News, WGN, Comcast and WCIU.
As of June 2015, SPARK has fed over 600 people and clothed over 200. SPARK is currently accepting donations through GoFundMe.com which has seen a dramatic increase in contributions since the program’s mission has gone public.
"It has been an honor to represent UIC in the community as a student-athlete and giving back to the community has always been a top priority of mine," said Jacobsen. "What SPARK does is very simple but it has had an enormous impact. We are changing the way the community views the homeless population. Since our conception, we have formed several relationships with homeless men and are actively working to change their lives."
"I am passionate about working with kids," Jacobsen continued. "I started a volunteer group within UIC's SAAC that visits the pediatric floor of the U of I Hospital monthly. The kids truly enjoyed the athlete's presence for an afternoon of sweet treats and activities. I have also volunteered with inner city school kids and inspired them to pursue their athletic dreams.”
NCAA Woman of the Year Release