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.

2020 Recipients

Brooke Reaves 

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 

Mamadou Balde  

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 

Oscar Lopez 

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 

Shilpa Rajagopal 

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  

Tyson Smiter 

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 


Past Recipients


William Acheampong, Siji Deleawe, Javier Granados II, Colton Becker, Kelsey Mumford, Mehraz Rhaman


Emily Yang, Caroline "Gabby" Crank, Jacqueline C. Gibson, Karan Kathuria, Matthew "Micky" Wolf, Valarie Cardenas


Seth Krasne, Sofia Aranha, Mayra Sharma, Garrett Maples, Jade Jackson, Amber Magee


Jon Burstain, Robbey Orth, Bethany Rolan, Rachel Huynh, Imani Boyette, and Kevin Helgren


Lauren Caton, Ignacio Cruz, Amy Enrione, Madison Gove, Neal Makkar, and Coleman Tharpe


Charlie Adkins, Elyssa Klann, Holland Finley, Jeffrey Li, Michael "Ugeo" Williams, and Tara Sharma


Armiya Humphrey, Robert Belanger, Steven Macapagal, Rosaura Estrada, Julie Fogarty, James Salazar


Michael Daehne, Jordan Metoyer, Ana Laura Rivera, Rebekah Sosland, Bhargav Srinivasan, Rebekah Thayer


Shelby Carvalho, David Forinash, Derin Kiykioglu, Audrey Najera, Jimmy Talarico, Eugene Wood


Erica Brody, Erik Eyberg, Charles "Bud" Franck, John Kidenda, Cecilia Lopez, Berenice Medellin


Jacob Marcus Bintliff, Natalie Butler, Liam O’Rourke, Abraham Pena, Keshav Rajagopalan, Rebecca Reid


William P. Bacon, Katie Brehm, Nathan Vidal Bunch, Stephen Lang Myers, Nicole Elizabeth Trinh, Mechiel Johannes Vander Walt


Sarina Hickey, C. Melvin Ike, Ryan Miller, Keshav Rajagopalan, Monica Richards, Danille Rugoff, James Tolleson


Matthew Garrett Ashbaugh, James Mahoney Burnham, Manasi A. Deshpande, Zachary Charles Hall, Andrew R. Lara, Sheena Paul, Kan Yan


Salome Balderramme, Tara Buentello, Jesus Castillon, Ellen Chen, Lauren Gilstrap, Matthew Hardigree, Vivek Sakhrani


Jesus Castillon, Monica Villasenor Culver, Kevin Curry, Steven Hardt, Rusty Ince, Jake Ward, Wendy Wheless


Andrew Brummett, Derek Deas, Katie King, Sly Majid, Omar Ochoa, Clint Tuttle


Dimi Aldridge, Erin Dominguez, Andrew Friedberg, Jon Mureen, Sonia Nezamzadeh, Tim Taliaferro, Phu Tran


Zaina Nabil Al-Mohtaseb, Colleen Davies, Andrea Greene, Chris Harlan, Nils Marchand, Jake Olcott, Daron Roberts


Parisa Fatehi, Milam Newby, Sebastian Paige, Carlos Luis Rodriguez, Mollie Sultenfuss, Randy Thompson


Kiesha Curtis, James Hwang, Atisha Patel, David Sanchez, Demetris Williams, Krissah Williams


Christina Allen, Nina Bhatia, Troy Daniel, Lisa Henken, Annie Holand, Daron Roberts, Marlen Whitley


Dee Campanella, Emily Johnson, Tyson Brice King, Candice Marchland, Kat Murray, Ryan Phelps, Anthony Rosette


Carl Harvey Jr., Sam Jacobs, Jake Margo, Yvette Mirabal, Jennifer Monday, Ronnye Vargas


Alex Eastman, David Henderson, Mirshish Massey, Brian Siegal, Ronnye Vargas, Julie Zelman


Joshua Aruh, Deana Dittmar, Katherine Dunphy, Lisa Epifani, Chad Young


Heili Allee, Glenn Brown, Kip Dixon, Howard Nirken, Sean Petrie, Stephen Shang


Stacie Baker, David Gomez, Sean Mast, Howard Nirken, Laura Schaulat, Meredith Spiekerman


Julie Ballard, Sarah Louise Biddle, Jennifer Bradley, Jackie Lain, Marty Meekins, Jennie Molz


Meredith Byers, Jackie Lain, Marty Meekins, Teri Pinney, Anneke Schroen, Charla Serbent, Cliff Vrielink


Jennifer Bradley, Debbie Knupp, Mark Murdock, David Antonio Perez, J. C. Rozendaal, Paul Schweizer, Christine Warden


Dina Castranova, James Delk, Deanna Dewberry, Bill Dorland, Mike Hulbert, Randi Shade


Steve Barrett, Julie Beckham, Archie Holmes, Blair Schlossberg, Mark Strain, Michael Whellan


Dean Carter, Dorina Trevino Clarke, Patricia Jeffrey, Marc H. Muchnick, John Scott