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 2021 nomination period has now closed.
Majors: Communication and Leadership; Government
Senior Brianna McBride is a leader in all that she does. In her time on campus, the Houston native has served numerous student organizations. As a Student Ambassador for the Texas Tour Guides Association, McBride’s love for UT shines through and her enthusiasm has led many students to attend the university. Awarded the Heman Sweatt Student Legacy Award by the Division of Diversity and Community, McBride is passionate about her role mentoring students of color and has been instrumental in New Black Student Weekend events, serving in the roles of team leader, programming chair, and executive chairperson. This summer, she was part of the cohort of students, faculty, and alumni who consulted with President Jay Hartzell about the importance of diversity and inclusion at UT, serving as one of the representatives of UT’s Black student organizations.
Additional activities: Black President’s Leadership Council co-director; Big XII Council on Black Student Government executive chairperson; African American Culture Committee chair/president; Afrikan Amerikan Affairs New Black Student Weekend co-chair; UT Austin Friar Society initiate
Major: Neuroscience; Business of Healthcare Certificate
Senior Pranav Jayaraman’s demonstrations of leadership go above and beyond. During his freshman year, Pranav’s close friend was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Pranav, who was raised in Katy, Texas, witnessed firsthand how his friend became bedridden and how his academic performance suffered, eventually leading him to temporarily withdraw from UT. Pranav was inspired to co-found the Texas Crohn’s and Colitis Initiative, a student organization that strives to raise awareness and funds for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He is also committed to helping the environment, serving in a leadership position for the Campus Environmental Center’s Half-Pint Prairie, a pocket Blackland prairie located on campus.
Additional activities: Texas Student Media’s Longhorn Latenight cast member and writer; University Health Services Sustainability in Healthcare Research student assistant; Environmental Justice and Ecotherapy Group general member
Majors: Business Honors; Marketing
In her four years on campus, senior Samantha Bryant has left an indelible mark on campus. The Austin native has proven herself to be a strong advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion through her role as director for the Canfield Business Honors Program, helping more than 200 first-year students adjust to the college experience. She was selected to participate in the newly created Canfield BHP Diversity and Inclusion, creating support and programming that allows all voices from the program’s various student groups to be heard, promotes inclusivity, and encourages ally-ship. She also served as president of the Student Advisory Board Leadership for the new Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial and Leadership Institute Committee, overseeing a 22-member board that empowers women and underrepresented groups through community-created events.
Additional activities: Ignite Texas co-chair; Texas AMA content committee member; Texas Bluebonnets philanthropy director
Majors: Social Work; Plan II Honors Program
Junior Grace Farley’s leadership practices are nothing short of personal. As a first-generation Latina student from Keller, Texas, Farley has committed herself to helping other first-generation students on campus. She piloted a First-Generation Student LLC with 51 students that has now grown to serve 100. In this role, she led hour-long workshops every other week, with topics varying from life-skills to impostor syndrome to career exploration. She has also helped to improve first-generation students’ visibility on campus through her work serving on the UT Senate of College Councils, the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Student Advisory Committee, and on the Plan II Honors First-Gen Task Force.
Additional activities: Socks for the Sole fundraising director; Steve Hicks School of Social Work Committee for Diversity and Inclusion student representative; Plan II Honors Mentorship Program peer mentor
Majors: Business Honors; Public Relations
Hailing from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, junior Ethan Jones couldn’t be more committed to serving UT Austin as a recruitment ambassador for Canfield BHP, recruiting hundreds of students through weekly information sessions, student tours, and personal meetings. He also served as the student representative of the Canfield BHP Alumni Advisory Board and executive vice president of the Honors Business Association, where he connected dozens of alumni with current students through professional and mentorship events. In the summer of 2020, he became the leader of Canfield BHP’s Black Affinity Group and served on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the university and becoming an amplifier for Black voices at UT and beyond.
Additional activities: Student Government financial director; Neighborhood Longhorns Program advisory board member; Honors Business Association executive vice president; Silver Spurs member
Jiarong Joyce He
Majors: Honors Computer Science; Canfield Business Honors
Sophomore Joyce He never hesitates when called upon to serve her Longhorn community. In her short time on campus, the sophomore from Plano, Texas, He serves on the Canfield BHP Diversity and Inclusion Committee where she provides direct feedback to the program director about issues facing students. She is also a member of Code Orange where she mentors local students about computer programming and sits with prospective students via coffee chats to walk them through the college application process and why UT may be a great fit for their future. She currently serves as Head of Development and Operations for Cumulus, a student organization focused on demystifying the tech industry for students of color.
Additional activities: Texas Computer Science and Business Association vice president of operation; University of Texas Computer Science Ambassadors ambassador
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