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.
Majors: Plan II; Business Honors
UT junior Brooke Reaves knows how to get things done. In her time on campus, the Victoria, Texas, native has successfully created four organizations at UT. She founded Nurses for Texas, which helps high school students in low-income districts earn associate’s degrees; BreadwinnHER, a professional development organization for women; and Design for America, an organization that uses design principles to find ways to improve the physical spaces on campus. She is also founder and editor-in-chief of The Texas Orator, a multi-partisan, peer-reviewed political publication that is part of the Associated Collegiate Press.
Activities: KIPP Austin Collegiate & Arts and Letters mentor; member of the Jefferson Scholars; member of Plan II Director’s Student Advisory Council
Josefina Salazar Morales
Major: Aerospace engineering
Originally from Costa Rica, senior Josefina Salazar Morales has a deep passion for the unknown. With her degree, she aims to become a leader in the space industry and develop innovative spacecraft to make impactful scientific discoveries. During her time at UT, she has proven to be a leader, having served as an aerospace engineering peer advisor and president for the Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development.
Activities: Flight Hardware lead for Texas Spacecraft Laboratory; peer assistance leader for the Women in Engineering Program; External Affairs Committee member for the Leadership, Undergraduate Networking and Recruitment Council
Major: Chemical Engineering
From creating Master Motivators, a motivational speaking student organization, to the Women’s Relief Initiative which provides feminine hygiene products to impoverished women in Africa, UT senior Mamadou Balde is always looking to better someone else’s life. The Guinea native’s dream is to earn a degree from Dell Medical School so that he may ultimately serve others as a physician.
Activities: Cofounder of Women’s Relief Initiative; founder and CEO of Mamba Inspire Brand; member of the National Society of Black Engineers
Major: Business Honors
Sophomore Oscar Lopez is driven by a desire to better his community. Hailing from Laredo, Texas, Lopez aspires to be a leader of change and realize ideas that benefit the area that raised him. He held an internship with the Google Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. where he practiced local outreach efforts, executed SEC filings for the company, and performed legal research to learn more about the boundaries of AI and how it could help his community.
Activities: Deputy advocacy director and Longhorn legislative aid mentor for UT Student Government; voting member of the Student Services Budget Committee; External Affairs Committee member of the Honors Business Association
Majors: Biology Honors; Marketing
Shilpa Rajagopal is always seeking out new challenges. In her short time on campus, the UT junior from Irvine, California, has served as the president of the Health Advocacy Student Coalition, focusing on educating students about health policies ranging from maternal health to opioid abuse. In her role as the Community Partnership Initiative Team Lead for the Texas Association for Charitable Clinic, she helped with the creation of an opioid resources toolkit for patients.
Activities: Diversity and Inclusion Committee member of UT Natural Sciences Council; Wright Lab, School of Nursing undergraduate research assistant; HealthyHorns peer educator; Benefit Show Charity chair and competition team member of the UT Nritya Sangam Indian Classical Dance Troupe; active member of Texas Orange Jackets
Major: Mechanical engineering
In his four years on campus, senior Tyson Smiter has made a lasting impact on the Longhorn community. Smiter, who is from Southlake, Texas, has held four officer positions with the National Society of Black Engineers, including being the only person ever elected to two terms as president. He has helped increase diversity, equality, and inclusion as a member of the Cockrell School of Engineering Advising Committee.
Activities: President of the University of Texas National Society of Black Engineers; student representative of the Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Advisory Board; Mechanical Engineering Department representative; tutor for the Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program
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