Autumn Finke and Tori Bindi Receive NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships

2021-22 NCAA Winter Postgraduate Scholarship Recipients

Phenomenal people are known to come from Gators athletics. Autumn Finke and Tori Bindi are prime examples of just that. The two former swimmers were both awarded $10,000 in postgraduate scholarships by the NCAA.

The NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Program honors 126 collegiate athletes each year. The selections go to student-athletes who stand out athletically and academically, while showing active involvement in their communities. This announcement brings the number of Gators receiving NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships to 59 since 1969. The scholarships will assist Finke and Bindi in their pursuits of higher education.

For Finke, the scholarship is going towards law school. She recently finished her first of three years at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. However, Finke didn’t always know she wanted to pursue a law degree. She originally planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

“My mom’s actually a teacher. And growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. And then I got more interested in the laws and the policy surrounding the education system here in America. And that kind of just led me into law.”
 

Autumn Finke

In 2017, Finke graduated from Florida cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English. During her time as a Gator, Finke received many academic accolades. She was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll four times, received CSCAA Scholar All-American honors and was named UF’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the 2015 Florida Letterman Awards (FLAs). She was runner-up in the 2017 SEC 1650 freestyle and qualified for that season’s NCAA Championships in the 1650 and 500 free.

Finke describes the work of a student-athlete as “really difficult”. She attributes her success at Florida to her family, teammates, and coaches. She also believes her academic advisor Tim Aydt was a valuable member of her support group.

After finishing undergrad, Finke used her love for swimming to be an active member in her local community. She spent a few years starting up a youth swim lesson program in St. Petersburg, Florida. Finke enjoys giving back to her hometown, and helps run the program at her own former club pool. Swimming is part of the Finke family, as mom, Jeanne, swam at Ball State and sister, Summer, competed at Florida State. Her younger brother, Bobby, just finished his senior season at UF.

In addition to her community work, Finke has already gained professional legal experience. She is spending this summer as a judicial intern for the Honorable Patricia D. Barksdale in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Finke continues to shine academically, professionally and within her community, demonstrating exactly what the Gators are all about.

For Bindi, the NCAA scholarship allows her to study at UF’s College of Medicine. She returns to Gainesville to begin classes this summer. Bindi’s passion for the medical field began at a very young age and grew significantly during high school.

“Early on, I identified with science and that kind of stuff. But it was through high school and being able to have relationships with physicians that started my interest in medicine as a possible career. While I was swimming, things came up and you have knee problems and back problems so you are able to work with pediatricians and physicians. They were people I really looked up to.”

Bindi plans to be a surgeon someday. Her interest in working the operating room began with her internship at UF Shands Surgical Center after her sophomore year. Bindi describes the experience as “life-changing”. She now looks to the female surgeons working at UF for guidance in the field.

In 2020, Bindi graduated cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. During undergrad, she accomplished a plethora of academic and athletic achievements. Bindi made the SEC All-Academic Honor Roll four times and was named to the CSCAA Scholar All-America Second Team in 2018 and 2020. She was also a recipient of the 2018 Anderson Scholar Award and received a $10,000 postgraduate scholarship as a nominee for the 2020 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete honor. In the pool, Bindi competed at the SEC Championships all four years and swam the third leg of the Gators’ 800 free relay at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
 

Tori Bindi - 2019 NCAAs
Tori Bindi

Additionally, Bindi made a name for herself as a leader on campus. She served as the 2020 President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and appeared at the SEC Leadership Conference in 2019. In her senior year, she was selected by the UF Alumni Association for the 2020 Outstanding Leader Award. Overall, Bindi was a phenomenal student, athlete and leader during her undergraduate studies.

In her two years after graduating, Bindi gained lots of hands-on experience for her medical career. She worked full-time at the McKnight Brain Institute at UF under the supervision of Dr. David Fuller. During the job, Bindi conducted research of cervical spinal cord injury and the effects of neural respiratory rehabilitation. She appreciates working with Dr. Fuller and the experience he taught her in his lab. Additionally, Bindi was able to study cures for Pompe disease using viral technology. Her research was even published in The Journal of Neurophysiology in the fall of 2021.

Returning to UF for medical school was an easy choice for Bindi. She believes Florida provides the unique opportunity for both academic success and a national championship experience. Additionally, Bindi appreciates the faculty, professors, and academic advisors she met over the years. “I have nothing but great things to say about the support that they gave me,” Bindi explains, “They allowed me to do what I needed to do in order to excel.”

Bindi proudly returns to Florida with the support system who helped shape her into the woman she is today.

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