PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – Each year, the RIAIAW (Rhode Island Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) names one Distinguished Student-Athlete of the Year from each of the state's nine schools. The accolade is based upon athletic excellence, academic success and leadership qualities, and this year's recipients, including Brown gymnast Michelle Shnayder (Lincolnshire, IL) were honored on Wednesday, May 1st at a reception held in Brown University's Joukowsky Room.
After studying abroad in Denmark and training with the country's National Team for the first semester, Shnayder returned to College Hill in January to lead the Bears through one of the most successful seasons in program history.
The junior helped the squad break the school record on beam this season, while also contributing to three record-setting performances on vault. She won the all-around in several competitions, rising to the occasion when her team needed her the most, continually breaking her career and season-highs on every apparatus.
On February 23, 2013, the Brown gymnastics team won the Ivy Classic for the first time since 1990. Shnayder was named ECAC Gymnast of the Week for her stellar showing, as she won the all-around title at the competition, turning in a career-high score of 38.850 to lead her squad to the team title, the second in program history. She had several impressive performances throughout the course of the day, turning in a career-high of 9.825 on vault to take second place, a 9.750 to take fifth on beam and a 9.675 to finish in the same spot on the floor. She also grabbed a season-high of 9.600 on bars, placing 13th. She earned first team All-Ivy Classic on vault and in the all-around, and second team All-Ivy Classic on beam and floor.
She continued her phenomenal season with a fourth place finish in the all-around at the 2013 ECAC Championships, earning second team All-ECAC honors. Shnayder also played a big part in qualifying the Bears to USAG Collegiate Nationals, earning Brown its first team berth in program history. She led the squad through the qualifying session and into the team finals with three other elite teams. Brown was the only Ivy League School represented in the top round of the competition.
Shnayder is equally strong in the classroom, as she maintains a 3.88 cumulative GPA as a double concentrator in Neuroscience and Science & Society. She earned Academic All-Ivy honors this year, as well as her third selection to the ECAC All-Academic team. The junior received NACGC/W Academic All-American honors in 2011 and will earn them again this year, and she was also named a USAG Collegiate Nationals Scholar-Athlete in 2013.
Outside of Brown's campus she is also an active volunteer, dedicating her time and energy to several causes that she is passionate about. She spent time in Israel during December of 2012, helping to develop the agricultural landscape of the Negev Desert, an area attempting to repopulate. She volunteered at the Fenix Family Health Clinic last summer, and currently devotes her time to the RI Free Health Clinic. Additionally, she is currently planning a three-day charity event for the fall that will raise awareness about the Save a Child's Heart campaign in Israel.