Mitchell Black, Men's Track & Field, Tufts University
Tufts University graduate Mitchell Black, a four-time national champion in the 800 meters who wants to be an astronaut, was one of two student-athletes in the country to be awarded the NCAA’s 2016 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. He is the first recipient ever selected from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
Black finished his career as a 10-time All-American for the Jumbos who won the NCAA indoor and outdoor 800 meters championships in 2015 and 2016. He was a leading member of three straight NESCAC championship teams at Tufts (2013-15), and was the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2016 conference meet.
An Academic All-American, Black received his degree in mechanical engineering and astrophysics in May. Over the summer, he will work for NASA in Huntsville, Ala., and in the fall enters an aerospace program at the University of Michigan. He graduated with a 3.72 grade point average and received Tufts’ C.P. Ciaffone and L.W. Pote Scholarship for excellence in engineering. In addition to his work in the classroom and on the track, Black volunteered with Tufts’ Engineering Mentors program, helping with other undergrads, and was elected to Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.
His path to success started with a roadblock. Black had hoped to play soccer for the Jumbos, but was cut from the team before his freshman season. At the time, his father said something he took to heart: “When God closes a door, He always opens a window.”
“The opening of that window liberated me from the track I felt I had to follow, and gave me the freedom to form my own,” he said.
One of the most accomplished student-athletes in Tufts history, Black was also one of the best teammates.
"He is insanely talented, but I think the most impressive thing is the kind of person that he is," said first-year Tufts head coach Joel Williams. "Everything about him is all about the team. Every guy from the guys who are at the back of the pack to the guys who are at the front of the pack, he's 100 percent interested in their well-being."