The National Collegiate Equestrian Association in 2016 created the NCEA Distinguished Alumni Awards.
The awards are presented to women who, after the completion of their undergraduate degree at an NCEA-sponsoring institution, have made significant contributions in a professional field.
Distinguished Alumni are recognized in eight categories including Business, Community Engagement, Education, Equine Industry (Rider/Trainer/Coach), Equine Industry (Medical/Pharmaceutical), Health Sciences/Services, Media & Communication, and Young Alumni. Distinguished Alumni are separated from their institution for at least six years prior to nomination and are recognized as distinguished in the following areas: academic success, athletic success, outstanding service contributions, and post-graduate success.
Each NCEA team has the opportunity to nominate one alumna in each category annually. The nominations are reviewed by a selection committee and the recommendations are then approved by the NCEA Board of Directors.
Class of 2017
- Business: Shelby White (Baylor)
- Community Engagement: Kelsy Abell (UT Martin)
- Education: Jessica Leatherwood (Texas A&M)
- Equine (Rider/Trainer/Coach): Ruth Sorrel (South Carolina)
- Equine (Medical/Business): Viviana Dunlap (Texas A&M)
- Health Sciences/Services: Brittany Kasprack (UT Martin)
- Media & Communication: Jennifer Wood (South Carolina)
- Young Alumni: Paige Linne (Texas A&M)
Class of 2016
- Business: Cassie McEnroe (Auburn)
- Community Engagement: Paige Smith Morgan (Texas A&M)
- Education: Casey Finnell (Kansas State)
- Equine (Rider/Trainer/Coach): Logan Fiorentino (Georgia)
- Equine (Medical/Pharmaceutical): Bonner Wimberly (Texas A&M)
- Health Sciences/Services: Casey Hill-Clemons (Baylor)
- Media & Communication: Kristin Dickerson (Oklahoma State)
- Young Alumni: Julia Hemingway (Georgia)
Class of 2016 Profiles
Business: Cassie McEnroe, Auburn
Cassie McEnroe was a member of the 2003-2006 Auburn Equestrian championship teams and was recognized twice as an SEC Academic All-American carrying the highest GPA on the team. She graduated cum laude with a degree in Human Resources and a minor in Finance. Cassie was an active service leader on campus all four years and led several community service projects including Toys for Tots, canned food drives, reading with elementary school children and was the SAAC representative when the Equestrian team won the campus recognition for most community service. As an active Auburn alumni, she has participated in donor events to promote awareness of Auburn Equestrian as well as the larger collegiate equestrian community. Currently Cassie works for Cisco Systems, a Fortune 100 Company as a Partner Account Manager in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past 9 years, Cassie has worked across a variety of settings, including an international placement. She manages their top partner/reseller relationship in Georgia totaling more than $6 million in yearly business. She is a committed mentor for young women in the professional setting and coordinates Women in Technology events.
Community Engagement: Paige Smith Morgan, Texas A&M
Paige was an instrumental leader on the championship teams at Texas A&M during 200-2003 and graduated on the Dean’s List. As a captain of a national championship team, Paige was instrumental in leading the Texas A&M team in the early years. She organized the horse show concessions which were used as fundraisers as well organized all clothing/uniform orders for the team. Since graduation, she has continued to be a leader in the Austin community. In addition to being been heavily involved in the Austin community since graduation, Paige has managed to run a successful business. She started her own floral design business and event planning business. More recently in 2014, Paige and her family opened a wedding venue in Dripping Springs, Pecan Springs Ranch. There are two major service contributions that have defined Paige’s community interactions for more than a decade. She is a member of the Rodeo Austin Board of Directors and has been committed to working with the Gold Stirrup Horse Show which is a competitive event for individuals with special needs. She chairs an important fundraising committee for the Burke Foundation – Pathfinders Camp and Childs Placing Agency and has been successful at raising substantial funds for the Equine Assisted Therapy Program which educates children on how to groom, feed, ride and care for horses safely, teaching responsibility and communication through Equine Therapy. She chairs multiple committees for the Junior League of Austin and she also volunteers at the Austin’s Children’s Shelter and for the Ride on Center for Kids (R.O.C.K.)
Education: Casey Finnell, Kansas State
Casey was a true leader on the K-State Equestrian team from 2003-2007 as team captain in 2006 and 2007. She was voted K-State Hunt Seat MVP, IHSA Zone 7 High Point Hunt Seat Rider, and Outstanding Hunt Seat Rider in 2007. Casey graduated magna cum laude with a double major BA in Spanish and Journalism/Mass Communication. She continued on to complete her master’s degree in College Student Development and was recognized for her academic achievements by the university department. While completing her master’s degree at K-State, Casey coached the Hunt Seat team from 2008-2012 and was nominated for Coach of the Year in 2012. She has a true passion for athletics and academics, thus she has been able to take herself from student-athlete to coach and now to athletic academic services. She is a member of the Natioanl Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators and the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics. In only four years, she has climbed the ranks to become Director of Athletic Academic Success at Lindenwood University. At Lindenwood, she has been recognized for her leadership of the campus SAAC and was invited to participate at the university’s leadership training program.
Equine (Rider/Trainer/Coach): Logan Fiorentino, Georgia
Logan graded summa cum laude from UGA with a BA and MA degree in Sport Management and was recognized with the UGA Scholar-Athlete Award and was awarded additional academic scholarships for academic performance. She twice won the team’s English MVP award, in 2006-07, and in 2005 she won the National Individual title in Equitation over Fences at the Varsity National Equestrian Championships. She was a competitor in the 2004 National Championship, 2005, 2006, 2007 Southern Equestrian Championships. Named UGA’s assistant Equestrian coach in 2008-2009 season, she coached the hunt seat team to back to back national titles in 2009 as well as 2010 and coached the team to a reserve national title in 2011 and a 2nd place finish for the hunt seat team. She currently serves as the Head Hunt Seat Coach at TCU (2011-current). She has coached numerous All-American recognized riders at UGA and TCU as well as multiple recognition of her riders as Academic All-Americans. During her years of coaching at UGA and TCU, her equine-athletes were always recognized for their performance with year-end recognition awards and included in the final rounds at national championships. Logan has been integral to many aspects of the NCEA. She serves as the chair of the Competition Committee and is a member of several other committees. In addition, she worked on the creation of the new NCEA Hunt Seat Medal Class that was launched this winter which is sure to be a resounding success.
Equine (Medical/Pharmaceutical): Bonner Wimberly, Texas A&M
Bonner had a long outstanding academic career at Texas A&M where she was a Biomedical Science undergraduate major (2000-2002) who continued on to earn her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M in 2006. She was a member of the equestrian team as the sport became a varsity sport at Texas A&M and in 2001 was named the Team Novice Over Fences National Champion. She had five first-place finishes, including the first English individual title (novice fences) in 10 years and also since equestrian became a varsity sport. Bonner completed an ambulatory internship at the world renowned Harvard Equine Medical Institute in 2006/2007 and has been an associate veterinarian at Waller Equine Hospital (the primary medical and surgical referral center for the greater Houston area) for 9 years, specializing in internal medicine, reproduction, neonatology and preventive care. She is about to graduate (in less than a month) from Options for Animals Chiropractic College (in Kansas), which will certify her to perform chiropractic work on animals. In June, she will graduate from Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (in Florida), which will certify her to perform acupuncture on equines.
Health Sciences/Services: Casey Hill-Clemons, Baylor
Casey was a member of the Baylor Equestrian team from 2006-2010 and earned her pre-med degree followed by her PhD at Notre Dame in 2014. Her academic performance and continued presence on the Dean’s List while at Baylor positioned her for multiple scholarships and recognition from the equine community. She was an NCAA Honor Roll Athlete and a member of the Athletics Leadership Academy. She has been an AQHYA Champion, and ABRA World Champion, and a region 9 Champion in Amateur Trail. Casey is committed to a life of service as noted by her previous involvement with SagecrestNursing Home, Backpack for Kids, Science Fair judging, or teaching at Vacation Bible School. Casey is currently Vector-Borne Disease Specialist with the Immunology and Infectious Disease Department at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She was a Post-Doctoral NIH Fellow and had also been an adjunct professor at New Mexico State University. Casey has worked in collaboration with international leaders from India, Trinidad and Tobago and with colleagues at MIT. She has published five articles in peer reviewed journals.
Media & Communication: Kristen Dickerson, Oklahoma State
Kristen was a member of the Oklahoma State Equestrian team from 2000-2004 while earning her degree from the School of Journalism. She was a repeat member of the President’s Honor Roll and served as president of the campus academic organization, Association for Women in Communication. Kristen was the 2003 National Collegiate Reining Reserve Champion at the NRHA Derby and the 2003 National Champion in Reining at the Varsity Equestrian National Championship. In 2004, she was the AQHA Cup Winner at the IHSA National Championship, which recognizes the top western rider, in both reining and horsemanship. Also in 2004, Kristen was crowned the NRHA Collegiate Reining Champion at the NRHA Derby. Kristen is a committed volunteer and has devoted countless hours to local service efforts including Mental Health Association Oklahoma, March of Dimes, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, The Little Light House, a faith-based school for children with disabilities ages birth-six and is a former board member for The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. In 2015, Kristen received the Governor’s Media Award for Diversity Coverage, and crucial in the work of KTUL, Tulsa’s Channel 8 as they were recognized with the National Service to America Award. Just imagine – Kristen served as emcee for 15 fundraisers in one month…certainly a service champion. Kristen is a highly respected television personality in Oklahoma and she hosts her own morning show, Good Morning Oklahoma. She is currently an anchor for KTUL Channel 8 News in Tulsa. In this capacity, Kristen has received the following awards in 2013 Oklahoma Television – Best Newscast, Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters Association – Best News Anchor and Best Solo Journalist. In 2014, Kristen was noted as the SPJ Oklahoma Television – Health Reporting/ Diversity Coverage/Television Feature; and recognized by the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters Association Best Solo Journalist and Best Reporter Portfolio; as well as the Natioanl Gracie Award winner. In 2015, Kristen was again named the National Gracie Award winner for her role as the news anchor at KTUL.
Young Alumni: Julia Hemingway, Georgia
Julia graduated in 2014 magna cum laude with a degree in Public Relations and an interdisciplinary certificate in leadership and services. Part of a Bulldog legacy, Julia demonstrated complete engagement as a student athlete and was a member of the 2010 and 2014 national championship teams. She was co-president and chair of Community Service of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In 2012, she was one of 17 student-athletes inducted into the UGA Athletic Association’s L.E.A.D. Academy and received the Coca-Cola Community All-American Recognition. A leader of philanthropic service, taking the reins in 2012 she led the team to its first Bulldog Cup Victory. Always a pillar of support behind the scenes, she succeeded in the organization of running team events. Julia is a public relations professional at Porter Novelli Atlanta. She works primarily in the Brand and Reputation Management practice, which includes AIM Sports Reputation Management. She also supports technology, pro-bono, new business and consumer accounts. She has also continued to give back by being part of the Georgia Way campaign and speaking to women pursuing participation on athletic teams.