May 8, 2017
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – During their outstanding Notre Dame careers Eva Niklinska (fencing) and Evan Panken (soccer) both won a national championship, were Dean’s List students and contributed mightily to the community, and they recently were named the 2017 recipients of the Monogram Club Postgraduate Scholarship.
The announcement was made May 4 during Notre Dame’s 16th annual O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievement & Recognition Showcase) gala, which was held inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. This marked the ninth year the Monogram Club awarded a postgraduate scholarship to one male and one female Monogram winner. In recognition of outstanding academic achievement, service, leadership, and potential for success in postgraduate study, each individual receives a one-time, nonrenewable grant of $5,000 to attend graduate school. Since the scholarship’s inception, the Monogram Club has awarded $90,000 to the recipients.
Niklinska (Granger, Indiana) maintains a 4.0 grade-point average as a biology major, with a minor in anthropology, in Notre Dame’s College of Science. She has appeared on the Dean’s List every semester at Notre Dame. Niklinska will attend Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Niklinska served as women’s epee team captain this year as the Fighting Irish captured the ninth national championship in program history. She posted over 100 victories during her collegiate career and was named to the 2015-16 All-ACC Academic Team for women’s fencing. Additionally, she was the fencing team’s representative on Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).
Niklinska also received the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award and the Top Gun Award during the O.S.C.A.R.S. The Francis Patrick O’Connor Award is presented to select student-athletes who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions and inspiration to their teams. The Top Gun Award goes to the graduating senior student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average and who has competed on a Fighting Irish team for at least three years. At last year’s O.S.C.A.R.S. Niklinska received the Notre Dame Athletics Community Champion Award.
Among her many volunteer efforts, Niklinska co-founded Handwritten Hearts in 2011 to provide handwritten cards of support and encouragement to those battling diseases and undergoing difficult procedures. Each month Handwritten Hearts provide notes to patients of Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in the Oncology and Renal wards.
“I am very humbled to have received the Monogram Postgraduate Scholarship and I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude,” said Niklinska. “My role as a student-athlete on the Notre Dame fencing team has been one of the most formative and rewarding experiences I could ever imagine. It has shaped me into a better teammate and leader, providing me with a platform to succeed in pursuing my career, blessing me with a family of teammates and an NCAA Championship, as the cherry on top of an incredible four-year journey. The Monogram Postgraduate Scholarship is just another example of how Notre Dame Athletics empowers us to pursue our life passions, and continues to support student-athletes even when we are no longer competing for the Irish on the fencing strip, court or field. I cannot wait to put this scholarship into use and begin the adventure that is medical school at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine!”
“Eva is the most positive human being I’ve ever met,” said Notre Dame fencing head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia. “She tries to give 100 percent for the sake of others every single day and that empowers everyone to follow her lead. I think she’s limitless in terms of her capacity to obtain information and learn new things.”
Panken (Edina, Minnesota) graduated from Notre Dame's College of Science in May of 2016 with degrees in pre-professional studies (pre-med) and Spanish. He earned a spot on the Dean’s List six times and produced a 3.88 cumulative grade-point average as an undergraduate. Panken took graduate courses this year while he completed his soccer eligibility. Panken will attend Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Panken started all of Notre Dame’s 88 matches over the past four seasons and he notched 13 goals and 22 assists. The midfielder netted a career-best five goals during the 2013 campaign, which ended with Notre Dame capturing the first national title in program history. Panken, a team captain in 2016, appeared on the All-ACC Academic Team each of the last four seasons and was a third-team All-ACC selection this past fall.
He received the Patrick J. Niland, M.D. Award, which is presented to a senior pre-professional studies major at Notre Dame for high academic achievement, professionalism and integrity. Panken currently is spending three months in South America volunteering with the Ambassadors Football in Santa Marta, Colombia. Ambassadors Football is a non-profit organization that works on individual and community transformation through soccer and faith. He is teaching English, coaching soccer and working with the ministry team.
“Thank you to the Monogram Club for all that you do to support student-athletes at Notre Dame and for making this scholarship possible,” said Panken via video message from South America during Thursday’s event. “I’m honored to be able to continue to represent the Monogram Club and Notre Dame as a recipient of this scholarship. Thank you to my teammates, coaches and everyone else who worked to create the culture of excellence I was fortunate to be a part of during my time at Notre Dame.”
“Evan was a very, very hard worker in both practice and games; he covered the most ground of anyone on the team,” said Notre Dame men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark. “He was the same way as a student. You’d see him before games, even some big games, studying in the lounge a couple hours before the game. It’s no surprise that he’s going to one of the best med schools in the country. He’ll be a tremendous doctor one day.”
Monogram Club Postgraduate Scholarship Recipients
2009 - Thomas Bemenderfer (football) and Mallorie Croal (volleyball)
2010 - Tim Andree (basketball) and Cosmina Ciobanu (tennis)
2011 - Tyler Davis (tennis) and Erin Marrone (softball)
2012 - Christopher Iverson (student manager) and Stephanie Myers (fencing)
2013 - Meghan Salomon (rowing) and Dean Odegard (track & field)
2014 – Kelly Curran (cross country/track & field) and Ted Glasnow (track & field)
2015 – Ashley Armstrong (golf) and Peter Schneider (hockey)
2016 – Sarah Kappers (rowing) and Brian Talcott (soccer)
2017 – Eva Niklinska (fencing) and Evan Panken (soccer)