POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River women's soccer's Zigi Ahortor (Accra, Ghana) and football's Ronald Baker (Prentiss; Jefferson Davis) are the 2020 recipients of the David M. Halbrook Certificate for Academic Achievement Among Athletes.
The award recognizes the efforts of individual student athletes who excel in academics, leadership and service. Each college or university in Mississippi annually select a men's and women's honoree. The schools with the highest graduation rates are also honored with the David M. Halbrook Trophy; Itawamba and Northwest tied for the honor in the community college division.
"Ronald and Zigi not only left their mark on the field as student athletes for their respective sports, but they exemplified everything you look for in a Wildcat uniform," Pearl River Athletics Director Scotty Fletcher said. "During their time here they were true ambassadors for the college, their programs and the community.
"We congratulate both of them and are certain they will continue having future success in their future endeavors."
The Halbrook Award for Academic Achievement Among Athletes was established in 1984 as a result of the passage of House Concurrent Resolution No. 88. The awards program is made possible through endowments from former Representative David M. Halbrook of Belzoni and his brothers, John C. and James G. Halbrook of Belzoni and J. A. Halbrook of Beaumont, Texas, in honor of their parents, John C. and Ernestine McCall Halbrook.
The award is typically handed out during the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities Conference but was held virtually this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
PRCC's recipients last year were men's soccer's Andrew Elkins (Bay St. Louis; St. Stanislaus) and softball's Rylee Swilley (Kiln; Hancock).
Ahortor was a mainstay on Pearl River's Dean's List during her career at Pearl River. The Ghanaian also earned a spot on the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference's distinguished All-Academic Team in June.
On the pitch, the Jackson State signee transformed into a dangerous attacker for the Wildcats.
After scoring two goals and two assists as a freshman in 2019, Ahortor's production exploded her sophomore season. Ahortor ended up scoring five goals with four assists and was named to the All-Region XXIII squad as well as the MACJC All-Star Game; Ahortor was selected as one of the MVPs of the game.
Baker had a prolific career at PRCC — on and off the football field. Baker was a permanent fixture on Pearl River's President's List, was Vice President of the PRCC Student Government as a sophomore, VP of Philanthropy for Phi Theta Kappa, a member of Mu Alpha Theta and was also selected to the 2020 Academic All-America College Division Men's At-Large Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Baker also earned a spot on the MACCC's distinguished All-Academic Team in June.
On the field, Baker, who graduated following the 2019 season, was a two-year starter and eventual captain. The defensive back recorded 68 tackles with 11 pass breakups during his PRCC career.
Baker is pursuing a Mechanical Engineering degree at Mississippi State.