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Branchini Named 2010-11 America East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Nikki Branchini capped a stellar career by becoming UAlbany's first woman to be named America East Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (August 1, 2011) -- UAlbany's Nikki Branchini has been chosen America East Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Branchini, an All-America lacrosse selection, is the first UAlbany female to be honored with the award since the school joined the league in 2001-02.

Branchini, who was voted the conference's top lacrosse scholar-athlete earlier this month, graduated with a 3.83 cumulative grade point average in history and a minor in education. She was selected to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America At-Large national second team and was named the 2011 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Division I Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

A native of Guilderland, N.Y., Branchini was named America East Woman of the Year for combining excellence in athletics, academics, service and leadership. A three-time America East all-academic lacrosse team member, she was awarded an ECAC Merit Medal as the school's top senior female student-athlete and was the recipient of the Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award.

As an athlete, Branchini made her second straight appearance on the IWLCA All-America Team as a second-team defensive midfielder. She was also voted to the Synapse Sports All-America Team and earned first-team All-Northeast Region honors. During her career, Branchini won or shared America East Player of the Year twice and became the third player in conference history to win multiple top player awards. She is the first UAlbany player to be voted all-region three times and first-team all-conference in all four years. In 2010-11, Branchini was voted UAlbany's Female Athlete of the Year for the second time during her career.

Branchini led UAlbany (18-1) to its first America East Conference championship and the NCAA Tournament's quarterfinal round. The Great Danes were ranked among the top 10 nationally in both polls for the first time.

Binghamton University tennis standout Sven Vloedgraven won the America East's male scholar-athlete award for the second consecutive year. Branchini and Vloedgraven were chosen from a group of 19 student-athletes who were tabbed scholar-athletes in their respective sports.

America East has one of the most comprehensive academic awards programs in the country. In addition to the Scholar-Athlete program, an All-Academic team comprised of student-athletes that excel both academically and athletically is chosen in each of the conference's 20 sports by a committee consisting of faculty athletic representatives, academic advisors and sports information directors. Additionally, the conference recognizes all student-athletes who achieve at least a 3.0 GPA on its Academic Honor Roll, with those achieving a 3.5 average or better receiving Commissioner's Honor Roll status. Finally, the Academic Cup is awarded to the school with the highest cumulative GPA among its student-athletes for that academic year.

Branchini is the first female and fourth UAlbany student-athlete to receive America East Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Emil Bove, a defenseman on the men's lacrosse team, earned the award in 2002 and 2003, while Andy Allstadt, a distance runner on the men's track & field squad, was honored in 2006.

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