Cast your vote: Rowan student-athlete named a finalist for Haier Ultimate Achievement Award

Cast your vote: Rowan student-athlete named a finalist for Haier Ultimate Achievement Award


portrait of Richie SuarezRowan University senior Richie Suarez, who overcame a bevy of significant health issues—and 40 months of treatment--to pitch for the Profs’ baseball team, is one of eight finalists for the Haier Ultimate Achievement Award.
The winner of the national award, which is presented to deserving student-athletes for their accomplishments beyond sports, will be determined through online voting, which runs Friday, March 6, through Friday, April 3. Voters can cast their ballots once each day at

The Haier Ultimate Achievement Award recognizes leadership in the community, academic excellence, overcoming adversity or other noteworthy accomplishments. If Suarez is voted the winner, Rowan would receive $5,000 for its general scholarship fund and a Haier 48-inch HDTV. Voters also are eligible to win an HD television.

Suarez, a senior biological science major set to graduate in December with his bachelor’s degree, certainly has overcome adversity en route to achieving academic and athletic success.

40 months of treatment
On August 27, 2010-- just two days before he was scheduled to move into his residence hall on Rowan’s Glassboro campus—he was diagnosed with High Risk, Pre-B, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Suarez, of Voorhees, was admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to begin 14 months of intense chemotherapy.

Several months later, he also was diagnosed with avascular necrosis (AVN) in both hips, knees, tibias and femurs. Suarez had bilateral hip replacement surgery. In all, Suarez received 40 months of treatment.

Although doctors had told him his baseball career was probably over, Suarez proved them wrong when he made his collegiate baseball debut on February 23, 2014, just two months after his final chemotherapy treatment and three-and-a-half years after he was initially scheduled to begin his baseball career at Rowan. On the field last season, the 6-foot, right-handed pitcher went 3-0 with a 4.05 ERA in 13.1 innings, striking out 10 batters. He helped Rowan win its second consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship and reach the third round of the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Career in oncology
Suarez was named the NJAC Rookie Pitcher of the Week on March 17 and recently received the Eastern College Athletic Conference Award of Valor. A stellar student who carries a GPA above 3.76, he has earned NJAC All-Academic honorable mention and is a Rowan Scholar-Athlete. The graduate of Eastern Regional High School hopes to pursue a career in oncology.

"I feel that I did what anyone else would have done in my situation and that was to take my life back," says Suarez, who was the third student-athlete selected as Haier Achievement Award winner in January.

Haier will officially recognize Suarez for being a finalist with a plaque and certificate at an upcoming ceremony. In addition, Haier will donate $2,000 to Rowan’s general scholarship fund and award a Haier 48-inch LED HD television to the school's athletic department.

The announcement of the Suarez as a finalist for the Haier Ultimate Achievement Award was made by John Homlish, senior vice president, Digital Living Business Unit for Haier America, one of the world's leading television and appliance manufacturers, and Doug Vance, Executive Director of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). The groups jointly sponsor the award.

"The Haier Achievement Award program creates a platform that helps bring to light those student- athletes who have achieved success beyond sports," said Homlish. "We are excited to recognize inspiring student-athletes like Richie to further motivate other young people to achieve and succeed both on and off the field. We commend him for proving that no obstacle is too big to overcome and setting a stellar example for other young people faced with challenges."