Society of Character Inducts Four Track & Field Student-Athletes

Chelsea Oswald, Shiara Robinson and Hiruni Wijayaratne (Shelby Kennard not pictured) 

By Ryan Suckow

Feb. 28, 2013 -

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Eighteen University of Kentucky student-athletes, including four from track and field/cross country, were inducted into the Frank G. Ham Society of Character on Wednesday at a ceremony held at UK’s Center for Academic and Tutorial Services.

The track and field honorees were Chelsea Oswald, Shelby Kennard, Shiara Robinson and Hiruni Wijayaratne.

Following the induction ceremony, the student-athletes were introduced at Rupp Arena during the men’s basketball game vs. Mississippi State.

The Society of Character annually honors Wildcats who have shown an extraordinary commitment to academic excellence, athletic participation, personal development, career preparation and serving as a role model. The SOC was founded during the 1998-99 school year and is named for Ham, a long-time UK administrator.

This year's track and field/cross country induction class is listed below in alphabetical order.

Shelby Kennard
Kennard is a senior pole vaulter for the UK track and field team and has been one of the best in program history. As a sophomore, Kennard produced a school-record mark of 12-11.50/3.95m at the SEC Indoor Championships. In the outdoor pole vault, she shares the top mark of 12-08.00/3.86m which she achieved at the SEC Championships in 2011. In 2012, she was named to the SEC Community Service Team after spending time at the Ronald McDonald House and Lake Pointe Church Vacation Bible School. In the classroom, she has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average throughout her college career, earning a spot on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll each semester while at UK. She has also appeared on the SEC Honor Roll every year during her time as a Wildcat. Kennard, who will graduate after the summer semester in August with a degree in psychology, hopes to attend nursing school.

Chelsea Oswald
Oswald is senior member of the UK track and field cross country teams. She works as efficiently in the classroom as she runs in competition as she is set to finish her undergraduate degree in biology this spring while working on her psychology degree looking to double major. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her collegiate
career while appearing on the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll each semester at UK. She has appeared on the SEC Honor Roll each year as a Wildcat. Oswald has spent several hours serving the community, including time at the NEO Cross Country Camp for high school athletes and with Operation Homes preparing meals for the homeless. In cross country, Oswald was named to the All-SEC Freshman and Second Teams in 2009 and has continued a solid career ever since. In 2011, she earned back-to-back top-two finishes with a second-place finish at the San Francisco Invitational and followed that up with a victory at the Iona College Meet of Champions. In 2012, Oswald earned All-America honors with a 37th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Shiara Robinson
Robinson is a senior member of the UK track and field team. She competes in sprint and
hurdle events and brings as much determination on the track as she does to her school work. Robinson was a member of UK’s program-record-setting 4x400-meter relay team as a sophomore at the NCAA East preliminaries with a time of 3:34.12. Her academic counselor believes that success is imminent in Robinson’s future, and she will earn her undergraduate degree this May in management and marketing. After earning SEC Freshman Honor Roll honors, she continued her hard work in the classroom and was named to the SEC Honor Roll each of the next two seasons. She also was named an Arthur Ashe, Jr., Academic All-American for the 2010-11 season and an Arthur Ashe, Jr., Sports Scholar in 2011-12. She has amassed over 100 service hours during her time at UK while serving as an international student volunteer and has also spent time mentoring at Booker T. Washington Elementary School.

Hiruni Wijayaratne
Wijayaratne is a senior runner for the UK track and field and cross country teams. In track last season, Wijayaratne earned the sixth-fastest time at the Kentucky Invitational with a
time of 5:09.30 and had the second-fastest time in the 5000-meter (17:45.96) on the team at the SEC Outdoor Championships. She has improved in cross country throughout her career, culminating in a time of 22:15.29 in the 6K at the SEC Championships in 2012. The integrated strategic communication major also minors in Spanish and is on target to graduate in May. She’s excelled in the classroom earning SEC academic honors by making the Freshman Honor Roll and being named to the 2010-11 and 2011-12 SEC Honor Roll while also being named an Arthur Ashe, Jr., Academic All-American in 2010-11. Wijayaratne has spent several hours serving the community, specifically working with the UK Shoe Drive in 2010 and 2011.