Seniors Anna Passannante and Summer-Solstice Thomas Earn Academic All-America Honors

Seniors Anna Passannante and Summer-Solstice Thomas Earn Academic All-America Honors

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. – In a vote by the nation's NCAA DIII Sports Information Directors Anna Passannante (cross country/track and field) and Summer-Solstice Thomas (track & field) were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team for cross country and track and field athletes.

Passannante was a Third Team honoree, while Thomas was named to the Second Team. With their Academic All-America selections this senior duo upped the number of Eph women cross country and track and field honorees to 14 since 1993, which ties their team with the men's cross country and track teams for most team honors at Williams.

Passannante, an economics major, who hails from Chapel Hill, N.C. earned five All-American track finishes in her career with two second place finishes at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 800m and the mile. Later that spring she earned outdoor honors in the 1500, and previous to those finishes in 2018 in the 800m and in 2017 as a member of the Eph Distance Medley Relay team.

Nine times she qualified for the NCAA Championships with the above performances added to her 2020 Distance Medley Relay, 2019 and 2018 Outdoor 800m, 2017 Distance Medley Relay and another Outdoor 800m. Six times she helped the Eph track teams finish in the top ten at NCAA championships.

Passannante won five New England titles: 2020 Distance Medley Relay, 2019 Mile and Distance Medley Relay, 2018 4x800m, and the 2017 4x800m. She also captured two NESCAC titles: 2019 1500m and 4x800m and she was a member of Eph cross country team that finished third  at 2019 NCAA Championship.

At the 2019 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Passannante came up big for the Ephs on the final day when she finished second in both the 800m and the mile in a span of less than 50 minutes. Seeded fourth in the mile she ran a lifetime best and school record 4:41.81 and then she set another school record and lifetime best when she finished the 800m in 2:11.03 to establish another school record.

Passannante's 16 points earned on the final day helped the Ephs overcome a 16-point deficit to Washington University-St. Louis after day one of the championships and enabled Williams bring home the NCAA title.

Passannante was a  two-time Academic All-NESCAC honoree in cross country and earned Academic All-NESCAC laurels six times.

Summer-Solstice Thomas, an Environmental Studies major from Santa Cruz, Calf., competed in indoor and outdoor track and field for the Ephs. 

Eleven times in her career Thomas qualified for an NCAA Championship and five times she collected All-America honors. Her All-American honors were achieved in the pentathlon at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championship and those points helped lift the Ephs over Washington University-St. Louis to claim the team title.

Thomas' other All-America performances came in 2018 in the high jump and the pentathlon, and in 2017 when she was honored at the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships in the high jump.

Thomas also claimed five New England titles: 2019 indoor 4x400m, pentathlon, heptathlon and in 2018 in both the indoor high jump and the pentathlon.

Additionally, Thomas was a member of the 2019 NESCAC champion Eph 4x400 relay and she earned Academic All-NESCAC honors the maximum six times.

Recently Thomas was named a Luce Scholar by the Henry Luce Foundation for the 2020–2021 academic year. Each year, between 15 and 18 college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals are chosen for this recognition, which provides funding, language training, and professional placement for college seniors and young professionals interested in working in Asian countries.

Annually some 70 colleges and universities nominate candidates with limited experience in Asia or who might not otherwise have an opportunity to work in Asia. Luce Scholars can possess an academic background in any field besides Asian studies. 

Thomas is interested in studying how toxic industrial chemicals enter and interact with the environment to affect public health disproportionately across axes of race, socio-economic status, and geography. Her undergraduate thesis, which will result in two forthcoming papers, analyzed patterns of PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl, pollution across the Housatonic River floodplain to better inform clean-up of the carcinogenic material

As a Luce Scholar, she plans to focus her research on environmental injustice, specifically through collaborations with grassroots organizations, to understand how power manifests across landscape to perpetuate inequality and illuminate how systems of privilege can be shifted to provide for a more healthy, just, and equitable world.