May 8, 2024

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dalton Pender Earns Student-Athlete Academic Award at VSU

Dalton Pender of Brunswick, Georgia, is the recipient of Valdosta State University’s 2023-2024 Division of Athletics Student-Athlete Academic Award. He is pictured with Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU; Herb Reinhard, director for the Division of Athletics; and Dr. Sheri Noviello, interim provost and vice president for the Division of Academic Affairs.  

VALDOSTA — Dalton Pender of Brunswick, Georgia, is the recipient of Valdosta State University’s 2023-2024 Division of Athletics Student-Athlete Academic Award.

Pender was recognized during VSU’s annual Academic Honors and Awards Dinner on April 25.

The Division of Athletics Student-Athlete Academic Award is presented to a junior, senior, or graduate student-athlete with the highest grade point average. Ties are not broken. Pender runs for Men’s Cross Country at VSU.

“Receiving this award makes my time here at VSU all the better by affirming the dedication and effort I’ve poured into my academic and athletic pursuits,” he said. “It represents the acknowledgment of the many hours spent on demanding coursework alongside my athletic commitments. This recognition showcases the significance of resilience, self-discipline, and effective time management, qualities that have been the key attributes of being a student-athlete. Furthermore, I believe in the importance of setting high personal standards and striving for excellence across all facets of my college experience, not just for the recognition and awards. This achievement serves as a source of motivation for me to continue pushing boundaries and setting new aspirations, both within my athletic and professional goals.”

Pender earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing at VSU in 2023. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. When he graduates from VSU a second time in May 2025, he will have also earned a Business Fundamentals Certificate, Financial Management Graduate Certificate, Business Analytics Graduate Certificate, and Marketing Decision Making Graduate Certificate.

Highlights of Pender’s time as a student at VSU include the following:

- Living on campus with “an incredible group of teammates and friends” in Hopper Hall and sharing unforgettable moments — late-night campus escapades, epic dorm wars, movie marathons in the common area, massive hide-and-seek games, video games, Nerf battles, and crazy dorm parties — that “kept us entertained and united” and bonded the group for life.

- Hanging out on the front lawn, a special place for relaxing in hammocks, walking around and socializing, soaking in the sun, and playing ultimate frisbee, spikeball, or football.

- Co-founding The Agency, a new marketing student organization “driven by a shared vision of providing hands-on experiences and collaborating with real clients” and serving as the group’s first president.

- Celebrating victories and learned lessons during times of defeat with his teammates, enduring long practices, traveling to competitions, sharing countless unforgettable experiences, and pushing himself to the limit during training sessions.

- Completing his bachelor’s degree, walking across the graduation stage, hearing his name announced, seeing the beaming faces of his family in the audience, and concluding one unforgettable chapter of his life with a post-ceremony fireworks display.   

“I am incredibly grateful for the support and guidance I've received from my family throughout my collegiate journey,” he said. “They have instilled in me the values of hard work, determination, and resilience, teaching me to always strive for success and learn from my mistakes. I owe a debt of gratitude to my coaches and athletic training staff for their mentorship and dedication to helping me reach my full potential as an athlete. Their expertise and encouragement have been invaluable in my development both on and off the field. A special shoutout goes to my mom, whose sacrifices and unwavering belief in me have been the driving force behind my accomplishments. Her unconditional love and support have been my rock, and I am forever grateful for everything she has done for me. Additionally, I want to thank my teammates for being incredible motivators, pushing me to excel not only in athletics but also in the classroom. Their camaraderie and support have made this journey truly memorable.”

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