Qu wins Arthur Ashe Jr. Sport Scholar Award

ECE News

Tom Moone, ECE Illinois

Story Highlights

  • Undergrad Momei Qu was named the 2008 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sport Scholar of the Year.
  • The award, sponsored by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, is awarded to student athletes who maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher and are active on campus or in their community.
  • For the 2008 award, there were more than 600 nominations.

Momei Qu
Momei Qu

In May, ECE senior Momei Qu was named the 2008 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sport Scholar of the Year. This award is sponsored by the journal Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and is named in memory of African American tennis great Arthur Ashe. Nominees for this award are student athletes who maintain a GPA of at least 3.2 and who are active on campus or in the community. This year there were more than 600 nominations. The male recipient of the 2008 award was Marcus Dixon of Hampton University.

"I found out I was a finalist right after the Big Ten tournament [in April]," said Qu, who hadn’t known that she had been nominated for the award. She learned that the recipients would be selected from among the finalists at the end of May.

Taking it in stride, Qu actually forgot about that announcement because she was on vacation. So she didn’t find out that she won until several days past the May 28 announcement when she came home to find a number of congratulatory e-mail messages. "Even the dean of Crop Sciences sent me a message of congratulations," she said. "And that was when I realized that it was probably a big deal. And I felt special that I had won it for the school."

Making the achievement of this award all the more impressive is the fact that Qu was a double major in computer engineering and finance, with a cumulative GPA of 3.91, in addition to being a strong force on the Illini women’s tennis team. "I didn’t sleep very much over all four years," said Qu about her schedule. "It took a lot of prioritizing of my time, and I needed to know what I had to do first."

Qu, who was born in China, took up tennis when she was 10 years old, after her family moved to the US. "My parents thought it would be nice for me to play a sport that I could play for the rest of my life," she said, and tennis was convenient because there was a court just outside the apartment building where they lived at the time.

In July, Qu starts work in a two-year program at Merrill Lynch in its investment banking division, focusing on healthcare. In the longer term, said Qu, "eventually I want to get my MBA and either start my own business or continue in finance, or maybe take it back to technology."

Whatever path she chooses, Qu sees her ECE education as a major force in her future success. "ECE is definitely the most challenging program I ever had to go through," she said. "It taught me a lot about discipline, time management, and the ability to think. Even though I didn’t go the traditional engineering route afterwards, I feel it has taught me so much about problem solving and thinking on my feet."

Qu credits her parents for nurturing her achievements on the court and in the classroom. "They are the number one factor why I have been so successful," she said. "They held academics in a really high view, but they also encouraged me so much in all my endeavors as I was growing up. A huge part of my success is due to them."

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