St. Cloud State University’s Brett Velasquez, who finished his collegiate wrestling career in 2018-19, was recently awarded a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. He was one of just 21 NCAA men student-athletes to receive the award for winter sports in 2019.
The NCAA awards up to 126 postgraduate scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are at least in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition.
The one-time non-renewable scholarships of $10,000 are awarded three times a year corresponding to each sport season (fall, winter and spring). Each sports season there are 21 scholarships available for men and 21 scholarships available for women for use in an accredited graduate program.
A four-time All-American and a team captain, Velasquez posted a 23-5 record for the Huskies in 2018-19. He placed fourth in the 125-pound division at the 2019 NCAA Division II championships and also placed first at the 2019 NCAA DII Super Regional and the 2018 Dakota Wesleyan Open. Velasquez charted a 103-14 career record for the Huskies and was an NCAA DII national champ at 125-pounds in 2016.
He is a three-time Google Cloud NCAA DII Academic All-District 7 At-Large First Team award winner and a two-time Google Cloud NCAA Division II At-Large Academic All-American. He is a bio-medical sciences major at SCSU and a two-time recipient of the NSIC’s Elite 18 Award for academic excellence.
Velasquez plans to attend grad school at the University of Iowa for physical therapy. He then intends to pursue a career as a physical therapist after the completion of his doctorate program at Iowa.
“I think I would relate best with athletes or those people with those types of injuries, so I would be leaning toward sports or orthopedics physical therapy,” Velasquez said.
He found out about the NCAA postgraduate scholarship after talking with SCSU Director of Athletics Heather Weems and Faculty Athletics Representative Bill Hudson, who nominated Velasquez for the scholarship. Hudson, Weems and SCSU wrestling coach Steve Costanzo all provided letters of recommendation for the Velasquez’ scholarship application.
Velasquez placed high praise on his undergraduate experience at St. Cloud State, which helped prepare him for his next academic experience in grad school.
“The faculty, staff and facilities really exceeded my expectations here at St. Cloud State. St. Cloud State has an amazing staff in its bio-medical sciences department and I was overwhelmed with the quality of the resources and facilities here.”
In addition to the excellence of his academic experience during his tenure at SCSU, Velasquez credited his time as a student-athlete with the nationally renowned Huskies’ wrestling program for honing many life skills.
“My time as a student-athlete here at St. Cloud State really helped develop my time management skills. I know that these skills will help me manage the demands of graduate school and help reduce the stress those challenges create,” Velasquez said.
“St. Cloud State has really helped prepare me for the next step in my career. It’s been a blast.”
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship was created in 1964 to promote and encourage graduate education by rewarding the Association’s most accomplished student-athletes through their participation in NCAA championship and/or emerging sports. Athletics and academic achievements, campus involvement, community service, volunteer activities and demonstrated leadership are evaluated. In maintaining the highest broad-based standards in the selection process, the program aims to reward those individuals whose dedication and effort are reflective of those characteristics necessary to succeed and thrive through graduate study.
The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship nomination is submitted by the faculty athletics representative (FAR). Student-athletes at an active NCAA member institution must meet the following qualifications to be considered for the scholarship award:
- Must be in final season of NCAA athletics eligibility or must have completed athletic eligibility,
- Must be in final year of undergraduate academic work or received an undergraduate degree.
- Have an overall undergraduate minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.200 (based on a 4.000 scale) or its equivalent, including all undergraduate hours earned at all undergraduate institutions attended. The grade-point average may not include any graduate-level hours.
- Have performed with distinction as a varsity team member in the sport in which the student-athlete is being nominated. The degree of the student-athlete’s athletics achievement will be weighed in conjunction with academic performance, institutional involvement and volunteer community service. In particular, nominators and individuals submitting recommendations should note participation in activities in which the student-athlete serves as an example to other students and demonstrates leadership qualities.
- Must enroll in a graduate degree granting program on a part- or full-time basis at an academically accredited graduate or degree-granting professional school.
- Must be enrolled in a graduate degree granting program within one-year after the academic year the scholarship was awarded. All funds must be used within the same academic year.
- The scholarship cannot be used to fund any undergraduate work.
- Are outstanding citizens and excellent role models for the institution and intercollegiate athletics as a whole.
St. Cloud State Wrestling:
The Huskies completed another historic season in 2018-19 under the leadership of head coach Steve Costanzo. SCSU won its fourth NCAA team title and also claimed the 2019 NCAA Division II Super Region championship along with the 2019 NWCA Division II National Duals championship. SCSU posted a perfect 20-0 overall record and won its eighth consecutive NSIC championship with an 8-0 record.