April 10, 2015
OXFORD, Miss. -- Johan Backstrom of the Ole Miss men's tennis team, track and field senior Jonathan Redding and women's golf senior Stani Schiavone were among 72 students honored with a Taylor Medal at the annual Honor's Convocation Thursday night at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts.
The Taylor Medal is the highest academic honor a student can receive at the University of Mississippi. Backstrom received a Taylor Medal in the School of Accountancy, Schiavone earned her Taylor Medal in the School of Education, and Redding received his Taylor Medal in the School of Liberal Arts.
In addition to receiving a Taylor Medal, Backstrom received the Outstanding Undergraduate Managerial Finance Student Award from the School of Business Administration.
The Taylor Medal recognizes outstanding academic performance and is given to no more than one percent of the student body. To be considered, a student must have a grade-point average of at least a 3.90.
"Each year we hope for at least one student-athlete to be selected as a Taylor Medalist, showing that they are one of the University of Mississippi's best and brightest students," said senior associate athletics director Derek Cowherd. "Having Johan, Jonathan and Stani be selected this year is unique and remarkable, because they are such strong competitors and successful in their respective sports."
Backstrom finished up his playing career in 2014, but not before he helped lead the Rebels to the NCAA Championship each of his years, including their 10th SEC West title and a final national ranking of No. 10 in 2013. The Uppsala, Sweden native boasts a 3.9 GPA in Managerial Finance. A three-time ITA Scholar Athlete, Backstrom was named a Capital One Academic All-American last year. After graduation, he will join KPMG Transaction Services in their New York City offices.
"Johan is a leader on the court and in the classroom," men's tennis coach Toby Hansson said. "To receive the Taylor medal and at the same time compete in sports at the highest collegiate level is a testament to Johan's focus, work ethic and positive attitude. He is an exceptional student athlete, but he is an even better teammate, always looking to make people around him better. We know that Johan will go on to represent Ole Miss in the best possible way."
Redding, a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree from Oxford, Mississippi, boast a 4.0 in Biochemistry. He is a regular participant in the 400-meter hurdles in all four years at Ole Miss (as a walk-on) and owns a personal-best time of 55.27 in the 400-meter hurdles.
"Jonathan is a humble young man, a class individual, and the heart and soul of our team in terms of hard work and dedication," track and field head coach Brian O'Neal said. "He works extremely hard and maximizes his talent both on and off the track. He's an essential part of what we do and represents the true meaning of a student-athlete.
"Some people think because he's a 4.0 student, it's only because of his intelligence," O'Neal added. "He is brilliant, but he also works extremely hard at his educational goals. He comes from a great family, and if you've ever met his family, you'll know why he is who he is."
Schiavone has excelled both in the classroom and on the course during her time in Oxford. She was recently named SEC Player of the Week after winning the Samford Intercollegiate. Schiavone is a WGCA All-American Scholar and a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She was recently named Scholar Athlete of the Year at the annual Rebels' Choice Awards. The secondary mathematics education major boasts a 3.97 GPA and hopes to enter teaching after graduation.
"Stani is rock solid in her emotions on the golf course," women's golf coach Michele Drinkard said. "When she received her email on being honored with the Taylor Medal -- not so much. She must have jumped 10 feet in the air when she read the message while we were in Arizona. Stani epitomizes the word student-athlete and has been extremely organized in her time management. She has planned everyday so that she can excel in her academics while also getting better at the game of golf too. I am so proud that Ole Miss has honored her with the highest academic achievement we have to offer a student."
The Taylor Memorial was founded by William A. Taylor in June 1904. He founded the award in memory of his son, Marcus Elvis Taylor, an honored alumnus of the class of 1871, and out of benevolent regard and good will for the youth of the state and the interest and the work of the University of Mississippi, and for the encouragement of meritorious scholarship department.
The Taylor Memorial, as well as the other awards presented to the students, is chosen by a committee of faculty and staff members.