Autumn Finke and Tori Bindi receive NCAA graduate scholarships
Phenomenal people are known to come from Gators athletics. Autumn Finke and Tori Bindi are prime examples. The two former swimmers both received $10,000 in NCAA graduate scholarships.
The NCAA Graduate Scholarship Program honors 126 college athletes each year. Selections go to student-athletes who excel athletically and academically, while demonstrating active involvement in their community. This announcement brings to 59 the number of Gators receiving NCAA graduate scholarships since 1969. The scholarships will help Finke and Bindi in their pursuits of higher education.
For Finke, the scholarship goes to law school. She recently completed her first of three years at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. However, Finke didn’t always know she wanted to pursue a law degree. She originally planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
“My mom is actually a teacher. And growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. And then I became more interested in the laws and politics surrounding the education system here in America. And that kind of led me to law. “
In 2017, Finke graduated from Florida with honors with a bachelor’s degree in English. During his time as a Gator, Finke received numerous academic accolades. She has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll four times, received US CSCAA Scholar honors, and was named UF Female Athlete of the Year at the 2015 Florida Letterman Awards (FLA). was a finalist in the 2017 SEC 1650 freestyle and qualified for this season’s NCAA championships in the 1650 and 500 freestyle.
Finke describes the job of a student-athlete as “really difficult”. She attributes her success in Florida to her family, teammates and coaches. She also believes her academic advisor Tim Aydt was a valuable member of her support group.
After completing undergraduate, Finke used his love for swimming to be an active member of his local community. She spent a few years starting a youth swim lesson program in St. Petersburg, Florida. Finke enjoys giving back to his hometown and helps run the pool program at his former club. Swimming is part of the Finke family, as his mother, Jeanne, swam at Ball State and his sister, Summer, competed at Florida State. His younger brother, Bobby, just finished his senior season at UF.
In addition to her community work, Finke has already gained professional experience in law. She is spending this summer as a judicial intern for the Honorable Patricia D. Barksdale at the United States District Court for the Intermediate District of Florida. Finke continues to shine academically, professionally and within his community, demonstrating exactly what the Gators are all about.
For Bindi, the NCAA scholarship allows him to study at the UF College of Medicine. She is returning to Gainesville to start classes this summer. Bindi’s passion for the medical field began at a very young age and grew significantly in high school.
“At first, I identified with science and that kind of stuff. But it was through high school and being able to have relationships with doctors that I started to get interested in medicine in as a career as possible. While I was swimming, things happened and you have knee and back problems, so you can work with pediatricians and doctors. They were people I really looked up to.
Bindi plans to one day become a surgeon. Her interest in operating room work began with her internship at UF Shands Surgical Center after her sophomore year. Bindi describes the experience as “life changing”. She now turns to female surgeons working at UF for advice in the field.
In 2020, Bindi graduated with honors with her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. During undergraduate, she achieved a plethora of academic and athletic achievements. Bindi has made the SEC All-Academic Honor Roll four times and was named to the All-America Scholar CSCAA Second Team in 2018 and 2020. She was also the recipient of the 2018 Anderson Scholar Award and received a scholarship from $10,000 graduate scholarship as the nominee for the 2020 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Honor. In the pool, Bindi has competed in the SEC Championships every four years and swam the third leg of the Gators 800 freestyle relay at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
Additionally, Bindi has made a name for herself as a campus leader. She was the 2020 Chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and attended the 2019 SEC Leadership Conference. In her senior year, she was selected by the UF Alumni Association for the 2020 Outstanding Leader Award Awards. Overall, Bindi was a phenomenal student, athlete, and leader during her undergraduate studies.
In the two years since graduation, Bindi has gained a lot of practical experience for her medical career. She worked full-time at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute under the supervision of Dr David Fuller. During her work, Bindi conducted research on cervical spinal cord injury and the effects of neural respiratory rehabilitation. She enjoys working with Dr. Fuller and the experience he taught her in his lab. Additionally, Bindi was able to study cures for Pompe disease using viral technology. His research has even been published in The Journal of Neurophysiology in the fall of 2021.
Going back to UF for medical school was an easy choice for Bindi. She believes Florida offers a unique opportunity to both achieve academic success and have a national championship experience. Additionally, Bindi appreciates the faculty, professors, and academic advisors she has met over the years. “I have nothing but good things to say about the support they gave me,” says Bindi, “They allowed me to do what I needed to do to excel.”
Bindi proudly returns to Florida with the support system that helped her become the woman she is today.