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By Shelby Sanford
COI Communications and Events Student Assistant

Being a student athlete can be similar to having a full time job, but for Northern Kentucky University senior, BriAuna Keys, it is just a part of what she will be known for when she walks across the stage at BB&T Arena on May 11.

BriAuna wasn’t always sure that she wanted to continue her track and field career once she went to college.

“My high school coach just kept encouraging me to pursue it and to look into NKU,” BriAuna said. “I did and now I’m here!”

NKU has her coach to thank for encouraging her to make that decision because BriAuna has contributed immensely to the women’s track and field roster. She participates in two-to-three events per meet for 16 meets each season, she was on the Horizon League All-Academic Team for 2017 and 2018, the Horizon League All-League Team for 2017 and 2018, she was the Scholar-Athlete of the month for December 2016 and 2017, and she has set five school records, and was a 2017 NCAA Leadership Forum participant.

BriAuna’s success does not end with athletic competition. As a double major in Accounting and Business Information Systems with a minor in Business Administration, she has maintained a 3.963 GPA. She was awarded this year’s Outstanding Student Award in Business Information Systems due to her leadership and drive in the classroom. 

“As a student, BriAuna stands out for her enthusiasm and engagement,” said Dr. Chad Anderson, director of the undergraduate program in Business Information Systems.  “She has both a passion and ability for learning that make her a pleasure to teach.”

BriAuna offered her leadership to many student organizations across campus as well. She served as the financial coordinator for Nu Upsilon Black Women’s Honorary, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and she was an NKU R.O.C.K.S mentor and a Learning PLUS tutor.

One of the involvements that she spoke most highly of is The Supported Higher Education Project (SHEP).

“This gives you the opportunity to work with students with intellectual disabilities and assist them in class and with homework and exams,” she said. “It’s been awesome because I’ve met great people and learned a lot about these disabilities.”

BriAuna has also spread her wings outside of NKU by studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and Prague, Czech Republic. In addition, she holds a position at Plante Moran Accounting Firm as a Tax Solutions Group Intern and has been offered a full-time position with them upon graduation.

NKU’s Associate Athletic Director, and mentor to BriAuna, Debbie Kirch, said, “BriAuna is extremely driven. She sets her standards high and doesn’t accept anything less than a standard of excellence.”

This semester, BriAuna was honored with the Regents Award, one of the highest awards one can receive at NKU. The award is given to “a senior student who has demonstrated professionalism and leadership within the University Community and who has an emphasis on continuation of graduate level work. A minimum grade point average of 3.3 is required.”

Kirch was asked what incoming student could learn from BriAuna and she said it’s  to get involved.

“BriAuna has proven you can always find the time to get involved,” Kirch said. “She does not make excuses. Through this involvement she has made this university a better place, teaching others how to succeed, how to get involved. Challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. She has done things that most students wouldn’t think of doing. She’s not afraid to fail.”