ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Becker College senior TJ Sempkowski was named the NECC Male Senior Student Athlete of the Year, while Southern Vermont College senior Mel Orrell earned the honor on the women’s side. This marks the first year that a Becker or Southern Vermont student athlete have earned the honor in the seven-year history of the NECC award.
NECC Senior Student Athlete of the Year is given annually to the top seniors for NECC institutions and is determined by a vote of the conferences’ Athletic Directors. The award recognizes athletic and academic successes, while also factoring in leadership and community service components.
Sempkowski was a leader on the Hawk’s baseball team as well as in the classroom. The Ocean N.J. native graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice with a pre-law concentration. On the field Sempkowski earned All-NECC honors three times and finished his career among the program leaders for the Hawks in hits, RBIs, games played as well as home runs. Sempkowski was also named to the Becker Dean’s list all four years and the NECC All Academic list for the three years he was eligible.
Mel Orrell earned her degree from Southern Vermont College in Biological Sciences. The Gloucester, Mass. native was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District At-Large team as a senior, while also finishing as the SVC 2017 Class Salutatorian. Athletically Orrell led the Mountaineers to the NECC Women’s Lacrosse Championship in 2016, in just their second year as an NCAA program. The graduate finished with the program record in goals, assists, points and ground balls. Orrell also received the William A. Glasser Award for the baccalaureate degree candidate who best exemplifies the mission of Southern Vermont College.
Both Sempkowski and Orrell were also active members on their respective campuses. Sempkowski was a member of the Hawks student athlete advisory committee where he helped and participated in the campus Special Olympics events. Orrell was a resident advisor on campus, an admissions ambassador as well as a captain of the lacrosse team.
TJ Sempkowski said, “This truly is an honor and something I would have never expected. Playing in the NECC has allowed me to make friends that I will have for the rest of my life and memories that I will never forget. I have had the best teammates and coaches that I could have asked for, and it was a pleasure growing up and maturing alongside them all because I learned so much from them. Its an experience that I would not trade for anything, and I could not be more grateful to have had the opportunity.”
“We are incredibly proud and could not be happier for Mel—not only for her to be awarded this honor, but also for her many accomplishments while a member of the SVC community,” said Interim Director of Athletics Sharief Hashim. "Mel is incredibly deserving of this honor," Hashim continued. "She epitomized the term ‘student-athlete’ and everything that Division III stands for. She was a great role model for her peers, teammates, and youth throughout the Bennington community. Saying she will be ‘missed’ is a tremendous understatement.”