OTTAWA – Graduate Canadian Interuniversity Sport swimmer Monica MacDonald has received plenty of awards this year for her academic, sports and community involvement but her highlight is something that won’t come on a piece of paper or be pinned on her lapel.

What brought the 22-year-old MacDonald the most joy was seeing her little brother Scott compete this past summer in swimming at the Canada Games in Sherbrooke, Que.

Scott, 20, has autism and to progress to the point of earning a spot on Team New Brunswick was a joy for the entire family.

‘’I remember when we got the call that he was on the team,’’ said Monica. ‘’It was huge. It was such a great experience and we were so excited to see him compete at the Games. He has really been my inspiration in getting involved in helping other people in my community and in the Special Olympics.’’

MacDonald was recently named by the CIS among the Top-Eight Academic All Canadians for the 2012-13 season. MacDonald, who grew up in Fredericton, had a successful four-year swimming career at the University of New Brunswick. In four appearances at the Atlantic University conference championships, the Varsity Reds captain qualified for the final in 14 of the 15 events she competed in.

Eight recipients, including MacDonald, recently received the first Governor General’s Academic All-Canadian Commendation from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at a ceremony at Rideau Hall.

On the academic front, MacDonald graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with Honours after maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 4.2, including a perfect 4.3 in her final year. A four-time CIS Academic All-Canadian and member of the Dean’s List, she received the Garnet Copeland Award in 2012-13 as UNB’s top overall student-athlete, recognizing athletics, academics and community service.

MacDonald was scouted by U.S. colleges while in high school but she never had any intention to head south. It’s a decision she doesn’t regret.

‘’The university support staff was amazing throughout my career,’’ she said. ‘’From the coaches, to the professors they were all instrumental in my success at UNB.’’

During her time at UNB, she volunteered with the Varsity Reds Athletes Council, the Kinesiology Society, the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, the Habitat for Humanity Global Village Program and the Special Olympics.

“Monica was the consummate student-athlete here at UNB for the past four years,’’ said UNB swim coach Robin Ferdinand. “She has an exceptional work ethic both in the classroom and in the pool.”

Monica MacDonald plans to pursue her Masters in rehabilitation science at the University of Dalhousie and her career objective is to work as a professor.