• Rachel Thibodeau
    Rachel Thibodeau

Rachel Thibodeau, an All-American volleyball player who also has a cumulative 4.0 GPA, has been selected to receive a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

The scholarship is worth $7,500 and can be used for part-time or full-time postgraduate study at a university or professional school. Thibodeau was one of 58 student-athletes across all divisions who were selected to receive the award this year. To qualify, student-athletes must excel academically and athletically, be in their final year of eligibility and plan to pursue graduate study.

Thibodeau is the only student-athlete in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference to receive the scholarship this year and one of only 12 women who play in Division III.

“It is a huge honor, and I’m really proud of it, but none of it could have been accomplished without my team and my coaches, the whole athletic staff or the faculty at Southwestern,” Thibodeau said. “The scholarship really depends on academic success and success on the court. I can’t have success on the court without my teammates, and I couldn’t have done half of what I did without their help and their support. It’s a great honor to me, but I hope it’s an honor to them, too.”

Thibodeau has played outside hitter on the volleyball team for four years and earned a spot on the All-SCAC First Team the past two years. This year she also was named the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Outside of volleyball, Thibodeau is president of the Southwestern chapter of Psi Chi, the psychology national honor society; vice president of the Southwestern chapter of the Alpha Chi national honor society; secretary of Southwestern chapter of Sigma Phi Lambda, a Christian sorority; a teaching assistant for the Psychology Research Methods class and a peer mentor for psychology through the HHMI grant.

“Division III was the perfect fit for me as far as being able to have strong academics and athletics,” Thibodeau said. “Although I loved playing the sport, I also wanted to make sure I had a good educational foundation. Southwestern had everything I wanted − I loved the coaches, the players and the school.”

Thibodeau will be graduating in May with a degree in psychology. She plans to enter a Ph.D. program to study developmental cognitive neuroscience, where she will examine how children and adolescents learn and how their development influences their learning abilities.

“I’m really interested in atypical populations, kids who have developmental disorders, and using that to study how learning is different between children with disorders and other children,” Thibodeau said.

Although she will be extremely busy keeping up with her studies, Thibodeau plans to stay involved with volleyball in graduate school, either through coaching a club team or participating in her school’s team. “It would be hard not to be active,” she said.