Student-Athlete Alumna Learns Discipline, Hard Work
Ifeatu Okafor was recently named the NCAA Woman of the Year.
Written by Megan Ketterer
Okafor was recently named the NCAA Woman of the Year.
For Texas Tech University alumna Ifeatu Okafor the key to success was simple: staying focused.
Okafor said when she encountered something that was not helping her excel, she’d push it to the side so she could continue moving forward. Her progress reached a pinnacle when she was recently named the NCAA Woman of the Year at a ceremony in Indianapolis. Okafor is the first woman from the Big 12 Conference to win the honor.
“It is extremely humbling,” said Okafor, an All-American shotput thrower. “They had amazing girls to choose from. I am very grateful to all of the people who helped me get to where I am today.”
Okafor was selected from nine finalists representing NCAA Division I, II and III for her achievements in athletics, academics, leadership and community service. More than 450 student-athletes originally were nominated for the award.
At Texas Tech she learned time management and how to persevere through obstacles, all of which built her character. Okafor graduated with honors in Exercise and Sports Sciences in May 2012 and then continued her education and earned a second bachelor’s degree in Human Sciences in May 2013. She currently is attending physician assistant school at UT-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“As soon as I got to Texas Tech my freshman year, I knew I wanted to go to physician assistant school,” Okafor said. “I knew what the requirements were and I knew what it would take. I also knew what it would take to become a great athlete, so I set my goals so that in everything I did, I was moving toward success.”
Okafor was selected for her achievements in athletics, academics, leadership and community service.
While competing, she earned the Dr. Gerald Lage Award presented by the Big 12 Conference in 2012, which is the highest academic recognition given by the conference. She also was a finalist for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar award in 2013, a four-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and received all-academic honors from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association.
Her collegiate success was aided by her professors and the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes, which provides necessary resources for student-athletes to achieve their academic potential and prepare them for life after college.
Okafor said her professors were willing to help and understanding when she had to miss classes to travel to athletic events. Texas Tech faculty, staff and administration went above and beyond to make sure she was doing well, she said.
“Texas Tech helped make me who I am today and I will never forget that,” Okafor said. “The struggles I experienced, situations I overcame at Texas Tech helped develop my character. I can now apply these characteristics to my everyday life.”
Getting to Know
What has been your favorite memory at Texas Tech?
There are so many good memories: winning conference in 2011; beating Texas in football in 2008 and rushing the field, which was my first college football game.
Why did you choose to come to Texas Tech?
Texas Tech has a history of great throwers, including Jason Young who is a professional discus thrower. He was the strength coach and assistant with training. My older sister Nkeonye also attended Texas Tech.
Where is your favorite spot on campus?
The Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes was where I spent most of my time and where I made several friends, as well as bonded with the academic faculty, staff and administrators.
What is your favorite Texas Tech tradition?
Tailgating and camping out before home games and Raiderwalk.
What do you love most about being a Red Raider?
Everything that we stand for and represent. Honor, commitment and fearlessness!
What is one word you would use to describe yourself?
What is your favorite Texas Tech memorabilia or article of clothing?
My conference championship ring.
What advice would you give to current Texas Tech students?
Take advantage of every opportunity placed before you. Be committed, consistent, and give your all in all that you do. Never give up, never lose faith, always be hopeful, and endure in every circumstance.