Marisa Bast, an infielder on Northwestern’s softball team, and Raleigh Smith, a member of the men’s tennis team, each received the Big Ten Medal of Honor — the conference’s most prestigious award — earlier this month.

The medal is given each year to one male and one female student-athlete from the graduating class of each Big Ten school who excelled in athletics and academics throughout his or her college career. This year marked the medal’s 100th anniversary.

Bast, who majored in learning and organizational change, was named an All-American in 2012 after nearly winning the Big Ten's Triple Crown. A longtime starter at third base for the Wildcats, she concluded her softball career ranked among Northwestern's all-time leaders in nine different offensive categories.


In the classroom, Bast was a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, a three-time winner of the Academic All-Big Ten award, and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. She also helped create the Wildcats Stand Up and ROARR (Reach Out and Reinforce Respect) program, an anti-bullying initiative that has been presented in nearly a dozen Chicago-area schools.

Bast, who grew up in Orange, California, will soon begin working for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where she interned last summer after being selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.

Like Bast, Smith also leaves a proud legacy at Northwestern. A Miami native, Smith was a mainstay in the men's tennis lineup throughout his time at Northwestern and was a key contributor to the program's rebirth.

Smith was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as both a junior and a senior, and he helped guide the Wildcats to three straight NCAA tournament berths. His outstanding play over the last two years helped Northwestern post its second- and third-best records in school history.

As a junior, Smith pulled off a rare sweep at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, claiming both the singles and doubles titles. This past season, he earned top-40 national rankings in both singles and doubles and competed in the NCAA Singles Championship in Athens, Georgia.

Smith, an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, majored in learning and organizational change. He has also been active in the community, playing a large role in Northwestern's participation in the NFL's Fuel Up To Play 60 initiative at local schools.

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