EAST HANOVER, NJ- Hanover Park High School Senior Chino Anukwuem was among 217 student-athletes awarded with a scholarship at New Jersey State Interscholastic Athlete Association’s (NJSIAA) annual scholar-athlete luncheon last month.

After four years of varsity volleyball as well as a record of outstanding academic achievement throughout high school, Anuwkuem was nominated as scholar-athlete of the year for Hanover Park, which is one of 431 New Jersey high schools comprising the NJSIAA.

“It was really cool seeing everyone who got the award,” Anukwuem said of the May 25 luncheon, where she was one of the hundreds of student-athletes from around to New Jersey to win a college scholarship from one of the various sponsors. Anukwuem’s $500 scholarship from Investors Savings Bank was only a portion of the $172,000 total awarded to the many students in attendance.

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“This dinner is among my favorite annual events, because we’re able both to recognize and, in some cases, provide a bit of financial assistance to some of New Jersey’s finest student-athletes,” said NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko in a press release. “Each of the young people in attendance truly stands out at their individual schools, and our association is honored to be able to bring them all together for this special evening.”

After playing varsity volleyball, as well as being recruited to play on a travel team, Anukwuem explained that she has learned a few life lessons from the sport. “I love the team aspect,” she said. “I like how it’s depending on your teammates, and with a team, you learn to work together.”

Although her favorite volleyball memory is working alongside her teammates to win against the third seed team one set at counties, she doesn’t mind the moments of personal glory either. “I play middle so, if I get the set and I kill it, the spotlight’s on me for a second,” she said with a proud smile.

Outside of playing volleyball at Hanover Park, Anukwuem also competed in track and field during the off season.  She is a member of the National Honor Society as well.

After graduating high school on Thursday, June 16, Anukwuem will attend University of Virginia on a full athletic scholarship for volleyball. There she wishes to pursue a career in the health field. “My two parents are doctors,” she said, expressing her desire to be a pediatrician. “I saw how they worked and now I want to do that too.”

For now, Anukwuem is preparing to leave for university on July 6, where she will begin with a summer class and preseason training in spite of minor hamstring and shin injuries from track. “[My] one goal is to be the player that my coach wants me to be,” she said, explaining that she is nervous for the shift from her small high school to a Division 1 university. “I want to make sure I’m trained enough. I want to be prepared.”