President’s Leadership Award

The President’s Leadership Awards were created in 1985 with an endowment from past Texas Exes president Frank Denius.

These awards recognize undergraduate students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership within the student community at The University of Texas. One sophomore, two juniors and three seniors receive the award annually. 

The nomination period for the 2023–24 President's Leadership Award is closed.

2023 Recipients

Arjana Almaneih 

Majors:  Communication and Leadership

Arjana Almaneih has shown exceptional leadership in diversity and inclusion at UT Austin. She is a Student Leader at the Multicultural Engagement Center where she mentors under-represented students to help them feel at home on campus and coaches them on applying for scholarships. She also serves on the Division of Diversity and Engagement Council's Advisory Council to advise administrators of efforts designed for under-represented students. As an assistant to Dr. Lori Holleran, Almaneih is also engaged in various initiatives to support the Center for Students in Recovery, including gathering and analyzing data. She has directed, produced, and written two short films about the Center—one for students and another for faculty and donors. She is a McNair Scholar and plans to be a professor one day. In her spare time, Almaneih works at Austin Community College, where she is initiating a research project on student success. Her nominator said, “In my 22-plus years at UT, Arjana stands out as one of the top students I have encountered.” 

Additional activities: SHIFT Student Advisory Group; Student Scholarship Coach


Hadis Askari 

Majors: Biochemistry Honors (BSA) / Certificate in Spanish in Medical Professions, Forensic in Science, and Pre-health Professions 

Whether it is volunteering at a food pantry or at the Dell Medical School, Hadis Askari is committed to serving those in need. During the pandemic, she worked as a science and math tutor, helping students navigate the difficulties of online learning. She also has a passion for serving her community, as seen in her roles as a refugee mentor and volunteer translator, where she supports students acclimating to the American education system, or her work with the Golestan Foundation, where she advocates for her home community in Iran. And throughout all of this, she manages to perform outstandingly as a student, reflected in her nearly perfect GPA. According to her nominator, Hadis goes above and beyond to make her fellow students feel comfortable, such as by helping them practice a foreign language or by offering academic advice. 

Additional activities: The Maker Space, a Freshman Research Initiative; Peer Mentoring


Isabella “Bella” Candanosa 

Major: Speech/Language/Hearing Sciences, Audiology (BSSLH)

On the Forty Acres, Isabella Candanosa is a model leader who serves as a fierce advocate for minority and marginalized students and tirelessly leads to make campus a more equitable and inclusive place for queer, deaf, disabled and neurodivergent students.  Candanosa created the Deaf Culture Alliance (DCA), which brings together deaf and hard-of-hearing students and students with a passion for American Sign Language and Deaf culture. They are also committed to accessibility issues on campus and volunteered to consult with UT staff regarding a pilot project to publish accessibility information for campus programming. This commitment to campus accessibility is further demonstrated by Candanosa’s leadership as a member of the inaugural cohort of the Neurodiversity Leadership Council. Their nominator said, "Bella is a credit to The University of Austin community, and I cannot recommend them highly enough for this award.”  

Additional activities: Panelist, National College Autism Summit;


Justin Zhang 

Majors: Business Honors, Finance 

While in the Canfield Business Honors Program, Justin Zhang has served in multiple leadership roles and consistently volunteered to assist with student recruitment and mentoring. He co-chaired the program's largest event of the year hosting over 400 students and families. He is a peer mentor to the Business Honors freshman class and supervises peer advisors, helping manage office front desk operations. In his sophomore year, Zhang served in a high-level role as Corporate Relations Vice President for the Honors Business Association (HBA). Justin held this role during the pandemic, and he found creative ways to engage companies and students in a virtual setting. He also founded and served as executive producer for Business, Unraveled, a podcast that shares diverse journeys of business executives. That same year he was elected president of HBA and did an excellent job of transitioning the organization’s programming back to in-person along with using hybrid platforms. His nominator said, “Justin approaches every role with enthusiasm and is committed to making an impact on campus, never shying away from an opportunity to represent the university, school, and program.” 


Additional activities: Global Learning, the UT Guild of Carillonneurs 

Nicole “Nikki” Hammond 

Major: Communication and Leadership 

Nikki Hammond is passionate about sustainability and the arts, emerging as a leading voice on campus in both areas. Serving as Project Leader of the UT Microfarm for the past three years, she has cultivated partnerships across campus to enhance the program, promote sustainability, and support students who are facing food insecurity. She was selected to be one of several students featured at a university-wide panel on Students Leading Positive Change, sponsored by the Moody College of Communication. Hammond is a founding member of Delta Xi Nu Multicultural Society and served as its historian and public relations officer. She also served as an event host at the Powers Student Activities Center where she managed bookings and helped with events. In addition, Nikki is a superb student with a 3.97 GPA. Her nominator noted, “Personally, Nikki is a delightful person. She is warm, engaging, and upbeat. She is confident, but she bears no signs of arrogance. I am pleased to give her my highest recommendation.”  

Additional activities: Additional activities: Soprano, Absolute Pitch A Capella; University Theatre Guild; Creative Arts and Theatre; 41st Annual Madrigal Dinner


Nikita Kakkad 

Majors: Biomedical Engineering; Plan II Honors

According to her nominator, Nikita Kakkad is proof that what starts here changes the world.” As a Forty Acres Scholar, pre-med student with a 4.0 GPA, and future OB-GYN, Kakkad started EC4EC, a program to make emergency contraception more accessible to UT students through pick-up boxes across campus. She is also a Student Advisory Committee Member for the American Society for Emergency Contraception. She has published research on the matter and was an intern at the Collective Power for Reproductive Justice. In addition to her passion for women’s health, she works in a lab conducting stem cell research, was a summer research fellow in Dublin, and is a learning assistant for courses in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She does all of this in addition to being a sorority member and volunteering at a clinic for people experiencing homelessness.  

Additional activities: Member, Texas Orange Jackets; Summer Fellow, Collective Power for Reproductive Justice; Undergraduate Director of Social Services, C. D. Doyle Clinic 


Past Recipients


Ashka Dighe   
BA ‘21, Life Member 

Benjamin Mathew
Class of 2024, Honors Computer Science; Canfield Business Honors, College of Natural Sciences; McCombs School of Business 
Life Member  

Chris Wang
Class of 2023, Honors Computer Science; Canfield Business Honors, College of Natural Sciences; McCombs School of Business 
Life Member 

Krisha Tripathy
Class of 2023, Biochemistry Honors; College of Natural Sciences
Life Member

Logan Eggleston
BBA ‘22; Life Member 

Tien Nguyen 
BSA ’22, Life Member 


Brianna McBride   
BS ’21, BA ’21, Life Member 

Pranav Jayaraman 
BSA ’20. Life Member 

Samantha Bryant 
BBA ’21, Life Member 

Grace Farley
BA ’22, BSW ’22, Life Member 

Ethan Jones 
BSPR ’22, BBA ‘22, Life Member 

Jiarong Joyce He 
Class of 2023, Honors Computer Science, Business Honors, College of Natural Sciences, McCombs School of Business 



Mamdou Balde 
BS ‘20, Life Member  

Oscar Lopez 
Class of 2022, Business Honors and Government, McCombs School of Business College of Liberal Arts 
Life Member  

Josefina Salazar Morales 
BS ‘20, Life Member  

Shilpa Rajagopal 
BSA ’21, BBA ’21, Life Member 

Brooke Reaves 
BA ’21, BBA ’21, Life Member 

Tyson Smiter 
BS ‘20, Life Member  



William Acheampong 
BA ’21, BBA ’21, Life Member 

Colton Becker 
BS ‘19, Life Member  

Siji Deleawe 
BBA ‘20, BA ‘20, Life Member  

Javier Granados II 
BS ‘20, Life Member  

Kelsey Mumford 
BSA ‘19, BSN ‘19, Life Member  

Mehraz Rahman 
BA ‘19, Life Member  



Valarie Cardenas  
BBA ‘18, Life Member  

Caroline “Gabby” Crank 
BBA ‘19, BA ‘19, Life Member  

Jacqueline C. Gibson 
BA ‘19, BSA ‘19, Life Member  

Karan Kathuria 
BSA ‘18, Life Member  

Matthew “Micky” Wolf 
BBA ‘18, BA ‘18, Life Member  

Emily Yang 
BS ‘20, Life Member  



Sofia Aranha 
BFA ‘18, BA ‘18, Life Member  

Jade Jackson 
BSA ‘17, BS ‘17, Life Member  

Seth Krasne 
Life Member  

Amber Magee 
BSPH ‘17, Life Member  

Garrett Maples 
BS ‘17, Life Member  

Mayra Sharma 
BA ‘18, BSA ‘18, Life Member  



Imani Boyette 
BBA ‘16, Life Member  

Jon Burstain 
BBA ‘18, Life Member  

Kevin Helgren 
BSA ‘17, BS ‘17, Life Member  

Rachel Huynh 
BA ‘16, BBA ‘16, Life Member  

Robbey Orth 
BS ‘18, Life Member  

Bethany Rolan 
BA ‘17, BBA ‘17, Life Member  



Lauren Caton 
BS ‘16, Life Member   

Ignacio Cruz 
BS ‘15, Life Member  

Amy Enrione 
BBA ‘16, Life Member 

Madison Gove 
BBA ‘17, MPAFF ‘19, Life Member  

Neal Makkar 
BBA ‘15, Life Member  

Coleman Tharpe 
BS ‘15, BA ‘15, Life Member



Charlie Adkins 
BBA ‘16, MPA ‘17, Life Member  

Elyssa Klann 
BA ‘14, Life Member  

Holland Finley 
BA ‘14, BBA ‘14, Life Member  

Jeffrey Li 
BS ‘15, BBA ‘15, Life Member  

Michael “Ugeo” Williams 
BS ‘14, BA ‘14, Life Member  

Tara Sharma 
BS ‘15, Life Member  



Armiya Humphrey 
BBA ‘15, MPA ‘16, Life Member  

Robert Belanger 
BA ‘14, BBA ‘14, Life Member  

Steven Macapagal 
BA ‘13, Life Member  

Rosaura Estrada 
BS ‘13, Life Member  

Julie Fogarty 
BS ‘13, Life Member  

James Salazar 
BS ‘13, Life Member  



Michael Daehne 
BS ‘12, BBA ‘12, Life Member  

Jordan Metoyer 
BA ‘16, Life Member  

Ana Laura Rivera 
BA ‘14, Life Member  

Rebekah Sosland 
BA ‘13, Life Member  

Bhargav Srinivasan 
BA ‘12, BBA ‘12, Life Member  

Rebekah Thayer 
BBA ‘13 



Shelby Carvalho 
BA ‘11, MGPS ‘15, Life Member  

David Forinash 
BS ‘12, Life Member  

Derin Kiykioglu 
BA ‘12 

Audrey Najera  
BATD ‘12, BA ‘12 

Jimmy Talarico 
BA ‘11, Life Member  

Eugene Wood 
BA ‘11, Life Member 



Erica Brody 
BBA ‘12, Life Member  

Erik Eyberg 
BS ‘10, Life Member  

Charles “Bud” Franck 
BAR ‘10, Life Member  

John Kidenda 
BBA ‘09, Life Member  

Cecilia Lopez 
BA ‘10, MED ‘12, Life Member  

Berenice Medellin 
BSW ‘11, BA ‘11, JD ‘16, Life Member  



Jacob Marcus Bintliff 
BA ‘10, Life Member  

Natalie Butler 
BA ‘12, BS ‘12, Life Member  

Liam O’Rourke 
BA ‘11 

Abraham Pena 
BS ‘09, Life Member  

Keshav Rajagopalan 
BS ‘10, BA ‘10, Life Member  

Rebecca Reid 
BS ‘09 



William P. Bacon 
BA ‘08, Life Member  

Katie Brehm 
BBA ‘09 

Nathan Vidal Bunch 
BA ‘11, Life Member  

Stephen Lang Myers 
BA ‘08, JD ‘11, Life Member  

Nicole Elizabeth Trinh 
BS ‘08, MPAFF ‘10, Life Member  

Mechiel Johannes Van Der Walt 
BA ‘08, Life Member  



Sarina Hickey 
BA ‘07, BBA ‘07, Life Member 

C. Melvin Ike 
BS ‘07 

Ryan Miller 
BJ ‘07, PHD ‘15 

Keshav Rajagopalan 
BS ‘10, BA ‘10, Life Member  

Monica Richards 
BS ‘10 

Danielle Rugoff 
BA ‘09, Life Member  
James Tolleson 
BM ‘08, MED ‘17 



Matthew Garrett Ashbaugh 
BBA ‘08, BA ‘09 

James Mahoney Burnham 
BA ‘06, Life Member  

Mansai A. Deshpande 
BA ‘07, Life Member  

Zachary Charles Hall 
BA ‘09 

Andrew R. Lara 
BA ‘07 

Sheena Paul 
BA ‘07, BBA ‘07 

Kan Yan 
BA ‘06, Life Member  



Salome Balderramme 
BS ‘06 

Tara Buentello 
BA ‘07, MS ‘10 

Jesus Castillon 
BS ‘05, BJ ‘05, Life Member 

Ellen Chen 
BS ‘06, MS ‘08 

Lauren Gilstrap 
BA ‘06, BBA ‘06, Life Member  

Matthew Hardigree 
BA ‘05, Life Member  

Vivek Sakhrani 
BS ‘08, Life Member  



Jesus Castillon 
BS ‘05, BJ ‘05, Life Member  

Monica Villasenor Culver 
BBA ‘06 

Kevin Curry 
BA ‘05, BBA ‘05, Life Member  

Steven Hardt 
BSPR ‘07 

Rusty Ince 
BS ‘04, BA ‘04, Life Member  

Jake Ward 
BS ‘06, BA ‘06, Life Member  

Wendy Wheless 
BS ‘04, MBA ‘08, Life Member  



Andrew Brummett 
BA ‘03 

Derek Deas 
BBA ‘05, Life Member  

Katie King 
BA ‘03, JD ‘06, Life Member  

Sly Majid 
BA ‘04, Life Member  

Omar Ochoa 
BBA ‘07, BA ‘07, MPA ‘07, JD ‘11, Life Member  

Clint Tuttle 
BBA ‘03, Life Member  



Dimi Aldridge 
BS ‘02 

Erin Dominguez 
BA ‘03 

Andrew Friedberg 
BA ‘02, BBA ‘02, Life Member  

Jon Mureen 
BS ‘03, Life Member  

Sonia Nezamzadeh 
BJ ‘03 

Tim Taliaferro 
BA ‘05, Life Member  

Phu Tran 
BS ‘02 



Zaina Nabil Al-Mohtaseb 
BA ‘04 

Colleen Davies 
BBA ‘02, BA ‘02, Life Member  

Andrea Greene 
BBA ‘03, Life Member  

Chris Harlan 
BBA ‘01, BA ‘01, Life Member  

Nils Marchand  
BBA ‘02, Life Member  

Jake Olcott 
BA ‘01 

Daron Roberts 
BA ‘01, Life Member  



Hector Eduardo De Leon 

Parisa Fatehi 
BA ‘01, MPAFF ‘07, JD ‘07, Life Member  

Milam Newby 
BA ‘00, JD ‘03, Life Member  

Sebastian Paige 
BS ‘03, Life Member  

Carlos Luis Rodriguez 
BA ‘00 

Mollie Sultenfuss 
BA ‘03 

Randy Thompson 
BBA ‘01, BA ‘02 



Vanessa Cooksey  
BS ‘99, Life Member  

Kiesha Curtis 
BSW ‘00 

James Hwang  
BS ‘02, BA ‘02 

Atisha Patel 
BA ‘00 

David Sanchez 
BS ‘02 

Demetris Williams 
BA ‘99 

Krissah Williams 
BA ‘01, BJ ‘01 



Christina Allen 
BA ‘98, JD ‘01, Life Member  

Nina Bhatia 
BA ‘00 

Troy Daniel 
BBA ‘00, Life Member  

Lisa Henken 
BA ‘98, Life Member  

Annie Holand 
BA ‘99, JD ‘04, Life Member  

Daron Roberts 
BA ‘01, Life Member  

Marlen Whitley 
BA ‘98, JD ‘01 



Dee Campanella 
BJ ‘99, Life Member  

Emily Johnson 
BA ‘00, Life Member  

Tyson Brice King 
BS ‘97 

Candice Marchland  
BBA ‘98 

Kat Murray 
BA ‘98, Life Member  

Ryan Phelps 
BA ‘99 

Anthony Rosette 
BS ‘97, Life Member



Carl Harvey Jr.  
BS ‘97 

Sam Jacobs 
BA ‘00, Life Member  

Jake Margo 
BA ‘97, Life Member  

Yvette Mirabal 
BA ‘96, Life Member  

Jennifer Monday  
BS ‘99. Life Member  

Ronnye Vargas 
BA ‘96, Life Member 



Alex Eastman 
BA ‘96, Life Member 

David Henderson 
BA ‘98, JD ‘01 

Mirshish Massey 
BJ ‘99 

Brian Siegal 
BA ‘95, JD ‘98, Life Member  

Ronnye Vargas 
BA ‘96, Life Member  

Julie Zelman 
BA ‘95, JD ‘99, Life Member  



Joshua Aruh 
BBA ‘95 

Deana Dittmar 
MPA ‘96, BBA ‘96, Life Member 

Katherine Dunphy 
BS ‘98 

Lisa Epifani 
BA ‘94, Life Member  

Jennifer Goldman 
BA ‘96, JD ‘00, Life Member  

Chad Young 
BS ‘96, Life Member 



Heili Allee 
BA ‘96, Life Member  

Glenn Brown 
BA ‘96, Life Member  

Kip Dixon 
BBA ‘94, Life Member  
Howard Nirken 
BA ‘93, MPAFF ‘97, JD ‘97, Life Member  

Sean Petrie 
BA ‘93 

Stephen Shang 
BS ‘94



Stacie Baker
BBA ‘93, Life Member  

David Gomez 

Sean Mast 
BBA ‘92, BA ‘92, MBA ‘93, Life Member  

Howard Nirken 
BA ‘93, MPAFF ‘97, JD ‘93, Life Member  

Laura Schaulat 
BS ‘95 

Meredith Spiekerman
BA ‘93, Life Member



Julie Ballard 
BA ‘91, MPAFF ‘94, MBA ‘94, Life Member  

Sarah Louise Biddle 
BFA Art History ‘95, Life Member  

Jennifer Bradley 
BA ‘92 

Jackie Lain  
BA ‘91, JD ‘94, Life Member  

Marty Meekins  
BA ‘93, JD ‘97, MBA ‘97, Life Member 

Jennie Molz 
BA ‘92, Life Member 



Meredith Byers 
BA ‘93, Life Member  

Jackie Lain  
BA ‘91, JD ‘94, Life Member  

Marty Meekins  
BA ‘93, JD ‘97, MBA ‘97, Life Member  

Teri Pinney 
BA ‘90, Life Member  

Anneke Schroen 
BA ‘90, Life Member  

Charla Serbent
BA ‘92, BS ‘92 

Cliff Vrielink 
BA ‘90 



Jennifer Bradley 
BA ‘92 

Debbie Knupp 
BS ‘89, Life Member  

Mark Murdock 
BA ‘91, Life Member  

David Antonio Perez 
BBA ‘91, BA ‘91 

J.C. Rozendaal  
BA ‘89, JD ‘97, Life Member  

Paul Schweizer  
BA ‘89, JD ‘94, Life Member  

Christine Warden 
BBA ‘90, Life Member  



Dina Castranova 
BBA ‘91, Life Member  

James Delk 
BS ‘89 

Deanna Dewberry 
BJ ‘92  

Bill Dorland 
BS‘88, Life Member  

Mike Hulbert 
BS ‘89, Life Member  

Randi Shade 
BA ‘88, Life Member  



Steve Barrett 
BBA ‘87, JD ‘91, Life Member  

Julie Beckham 
BS ‘87, Life Member  

Archie Holmes 
BS ‘91, Life Member  

Blair Schlossberg 
BA ‘88 

Mark Strain 
BA ‘89, JD ‘92, Life Member  

Michael Whellan 
BA ‘87, JD ‘90, Life Member  



Dean Carter 
BS ‘88, Life Member  

Dorina Trevino Clarke 
BBA ‘87, Life Member  

Patricia Jeffrey 
BBA ‘86, JD  ‘90, Life Member  

Marc H. Muchnick 
BA ‘88 

John Scott  
BA ‘88, MPAFF  ‘93, Life Member