COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M’s Rachel Bernardo and Ciera Johnson earned nominations for the 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year award which honors the academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service and leadership of graduating female college athletes from all three divisions, the organization announced.
“To be nominated for this award is an incredible way to cap off my career as a Texas A&M student-athlete,” Bernardo said. “The mentorship and help I’ve received during my time here has been invaluable. It’s an honor to be nominated for such a prestigious award, and it encapsulates all that I’ve accomplished during my time as an Aggie. A big thank you to our Student-Athlete Engagement staff, as well as the rest of Texas A&M Athletics’ staff for investing in me both in and outside of sports.”
The NCAA Woman of the Year award is rooted in Title IX and directed by the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics, the NCAA Woman of the Year program celebrates the accomplishments of female college athletes across all three NCAA divisions. Over 220,000 women are competing in college sports, and the NCAA received 535 nominations for this prestigious award.
“Being nominated for NCAA Woman of Year feels unreal,” Johnson said. “I’m extremely blessed to have been given the opportunity to grow as a person and as an athlete.”
Next, Conference offices will select their nominees for the award, unveiling those conference-round selections on ncaa.org in August. Then, the NCAA Woman of the Year Selection Committee will identify the top-10 honorees from each of the three NCAA divisions, before naming the 2021 NCAA Woman of the Year at an award ceremony on Oct. 17, 2021 in Indianapolis.
About Rachel Bernardo
Bernardo, a College Station, Texas, native was an eight-time letterman as part of the Aggie women’s cross country and track & field teams from 2017-2021. She served as a member of “The Twelve”, a group of team captains selected by the coaching staff, during her junior and senior seasons. Along with serving her teammates, she served the whole student-athlete body as a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) member, including the 2020-21 academic year as the president. She played a vital role as Head Director of Traditions Night, an orientation program for all incoming Texas A&M student-athletes.
Along with serving the student-athlete body, Bernardo volunteered her time through AggiesMOVE, AggiesBUILD, the Brazos Valley Food Bank and WE3: Women Encourage, Equip, and Empower program. She was awarded the Southeastern Conference Brad Davis Community Service Award in 2021.
During the 2020-21 academic year, she earned SEC Fall Academic Honors as well as the Buck Weirus Spirit Award, which honors 55 students each year that demonstrate high involvement, create positive experiences throughout the Aggie community, impact student life at Texas A&M and enhance the Aggie Spirit.
In the field of competition, Bernardo finished her career with two all-time top-12 performer marks in the indoor mile and outdoor 3,000m steeplechase. In the spring of 2021, she was named the Texas A&M Athletics Distinguished Letterman’s Award winner, the highest award presented to a student-athlete once a year who displays extraordinary talents in the areas of athletics, scholarship, leadership and service.
About Ciera Johnson
The Duncanville, Texas, native lettered for the Aggie women’s basketball program from 2018-21. She was a founder and served as the inaugural vice president of The B.L.U.E.print, a student-athlete led organization to provide leadership opportunities and a sense of community while empowering Black individuals to use their voice.
Johnson became the first SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year in program history and earned two degrees from A&M, including her master’s in human resource development. Along with Bernardo, she was awarded the Distinguished Letterman Award, the highest award given to a student-athlete by the Texas A&M athletics department, at the 2021 Building Champions Awards.
The Aggie was also a SAAC representative, Traditions Night Counselor, SEC Leadership Council member and the team captain of the 2021 SEC Regular Season Champion women’s basketball team, the first in program history. Johnson led her team on the court to the greatest regular season in women’s basketball annals and a trip to the team’s third-consecutive Sweet 16 at the NCAA Tournament. Off the court, she captained her team to fight for social justice, voting participation, equal rights and helped organize a blood drive for sickle cell anemia.
Johnson finished her career as a member of the 1,000-point club, scoring 1,066 points in the Maroon & White. She placed fourth in double-doubles (22), sixth in field-goal percentage (.530) and started all 92 games she played in for the Aggies.