Star Tennis Player for Lander Also Earns University’s Top Academic Award
Monday, Jun 13, 2016
Renata Mello and Richard Cosentino
Renata Barcellos de Azervedo Mello, winner of the 2016 Thayer Award, with Lander President Richard Cosentino. 

With a grade-point-average of 4.0, Renata Barcellos de Azervedo Mello, of Brazil, has earned Lander University’s Thayer Award for having the highest GPA of a graduating senior. Mello graduated in May, earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in management and marketing.

In addition to excelling in the classroom, Mello was also a star player for the Lander Bearcat women’s tennis team. She will be travelling to New York this summer to take part in the renowned Future Stars Tennis Camp.

In addition to earning a 4.0 GPA, Mello was also a graduate of Lander’s Honors College, selected by business administration faculty for membership in Beta Gamma Sigma honor society, earned the Peach Belt Elite 15 Award (2015) for highest GPA among female athletes who competed in Peach Belt Conference tennis tournament, received Peach Belt Coach’s Award (2015) and was a member of Academic Peach Belt Team (2015 & 2016).

Speaking to Mello, Lander President Richard Cosentino said, “You are the best of the best. From dealing with practice and competition on the tennis court to excelling in the classroom, I respect you so much for what you’ve done. With this award, you’ll be able to do practically anything you want to do with your career. Employers will be thrilled to hire a well-qualified champion, such as yourself.”

Dr. Lillian Craton, associate professor of English at Lander and director of the university’s Honors College, said, “Renata is one of the hardest working students I’ve ever met. From teaching her during her freshman year and again as a senior, I’ve observed her during the bookend years of her college career. I remember well the bravery she showed by completely immersing herself in study and research in a language that was not her first.”

Mello recently presented her honors thesis on the Barcelona Olympics during a National Council on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) conference. Craton said, “It was incredible seeing her present alongside the top students from throughout the country. She knew that, in addition to performing in that kind of environment, she could own it.”

Mello’s tennis coach, Brett Simpson, compared her dedication to the game to her commitment to performing in class. “Renata brings a tremendous combination of passion and pride in whatever she does, whether it’s on the tennis court or in class.”

Dr. David Mash, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Lander, jokingly remembered being almost frustrated with Mello from a professor’s point of view. “No matter how hard I tried in a statistics course, I could never come up with a question too difficult for her to answer.”

The Thayer Award was established at Lander in 1986 by the family of Dr. Henry K. Thayer. It is presented each semester to a Lander student who earns at least 60 credit hours at Lander and graduates with the highest GPA.