This award recognizes individuals who have made meaningful and significant contributions to the University of Iowa or surrounding communities through their vision and action; their sense of responsibility, devotion, and diligence; and through their inspiration, good judgment, and will. Students receive a certificate designating them as a Student Leadership Award recipient


Zahra Aalabdulrasul

Zahra is graduating this spring with a BBA in Entrepreneurial Management. In her time at UI, Zahra has been central to diversity programming in the Tippie College of Business in her multiple roles as a BizEdge mentee, mentor, and program assistant; Black in Business program assistant; and DEI ambassador. She has also served as a programming assistant at the Afro House, held an internship with Jessica Jordan Events, and is a 2021 recipient of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s Diversity Catalyst Award. Throughout her college experience, Zahra has dedicated significant time and energy to advocating for Black students and building a web of connection and support. Moving forward, Zahra intends to utilize her numerous strengths to work with big brands in a social, creative environment.

SLA 2021 photo Alexis Anderson

Alexis Anderson

Alexis Anderson is graduating with a BSE in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Global Health Studies. She is hardworking, dedicated, and responsible, with a strong commitment to equity, inclusion, and community engagement. Alexis has served as both the outreach chair and president of the National Society of Black Engineers, taking the lead on planning the Black Girls Do Science program in collaboration with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., John Deere, and Collins Aerospace. Her visionary leadership has strengthened NSBE as an organization and enabled her to advocate for Black students in the College of Engineering. She is influential and resilient, which will serve her well as she prepares to enter a public health graduate program.

SLA 2021 photo Salma AshShareef

Salma AshShareef

With nine nominations, Salma is perhaps the most nominated student ever for this award! Salma has served in several leadership roles in Women in STEM and the African Student Association (among others) and a TRIO SSS mentor within the CDE. She also co-founded Jeelna, a nonprofit providing aid to the people of Sudan, and honored Black females in academia through her artwork at the UISG Art at IMU event. Beyond her official roles, many nominators made it clear that Salma’s biggest contribution to UI has been her efforts to empower and make space for Black women in STEM. She is humble, courageous, and driven by her values. Salma graduated with a BS in Neuroscience this past fall and is now working to attend graduate and medical school to become a pediatric neurologist.

SLA 2021 photo Adeline Barron

Adeline Barron

Adeline started at UI in spring 2019 as a transfer student – she’s made the last two years count! She has served as the USG Black Constituency Senator, an Afro House programming assistant, and a Certified Student Peer Educator at the Women’s Resource and Action Center. Within her role in USG, Adeline regularly spoke with the UI President, Provost, and Dean of Students to uplift student concerns and strive towards a more equitable community. Through her leadership and dedication to her academics, Adeline has shown herself to be an incredible advocate for Black students at UI. After graduating with a BA in Communication Studies, Adeline will enter a higher education graduate program to begin an undoubtedly fruitful career supporting college students.

SLA 2021 photo Savannah DeGroot

Savannah DeGroot

Savannah is a campus leader when it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ students at UI. They have too many leadership roles to list, but perhaps the most impactful has been their time as a Center Programming Assistant at the Pride Alliance Center, chapter president of the Rho chapter of Gamma Rho Lambda National Sorority, and president of the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). Although COVID has brought many challenges, Savannah’s nominator noted that Savannah went above and beyond to quickly re-direct and lead MGC according to the organizations’ common values and goals. After graduating with a BA in Anthropology and a Certificate in Leadership Studies, Savannah will enter a graduate program here at the University of Iowa to pursue a higher education career. Overall, Savannah seeks to create space in higher education for folks of all identities and create a more user-friendly college experience.

SLA 2021 photo Miguel Angel Jacobo

Miguel Ángel Jacobo

Miguel has been part of our office before he was even in college; as a TRIO Upward Bound student, then attending UI and TRIO SSS, and now graduating, Miguel has been a fixture and constant role model in CDE. He is a founder and president of the UI chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., a Summer Health Professions Education Program participant, and a student activist with #DoesUIowaLoveMe. He has greatly contributed to CDE as a TRIO SSS tutor, Iowa Edge Peer Leader and Associate Peer Leader, and various roles with Upward Bound. This brilliant first-generation student leader lives out the philosophy of “en la unión está la fuerza” and will reach great heights as he prepares to apply to medical school.

SLA 2021 photo Mohamed Karar

Mohamed Karar

Mohamed graduated in Fall 2020 with his BSE in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Business Administration. During his undergraduate career, he was deeply involved in DEI work in the College of Engineering through his multi-year role as President of the National Society of Black Engineers. As a leader, Mohamed never shied away from holding the College accountable to follow through on their support for Black engineers. Mohamed was a visionary and influential leader, mentoring countless students through his involvement in NSBE and in his personal capacity. With prior experience at Goldman Sachs, United Airlines, and the Eaton Corporation, Mohamed is currently based in South Africa and working in venture capital to help build the startup ecosystem across the African continent.

SLA 2021 photo Hallie Lartius

Hallie Lartius

Hallie is a bright student, a talented employee, and most of all, passionate about sustainability. Hallie has worked in the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) as a Communications Intern, Diversity Liaison, and Project Intern. She co-founded the Underrepresented Students in Sustainability Mentoring and Funding Program, connecting BIPOC students with faculty mentors and funding to support them as climate action leaders. She has presented to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and co-drafted a DEI action plan for OSE. Hallie is also completing an honors thesis to analyze how taxation can lead to improvements in health outcomes. Hallie is graduating with a BA in Global Health Studies and plans to pursue a public service career.

SLA 2021 photo Ekta Nanda

Ekta Nanda

Ekta has a true gift for building bridges and facilitating a real connection. When she noticed that international and domestic students were failing to interact meaningfully, she took action by seeking leadership roles in OASIS, Indian Student Alliance, and the South Asian Student Alliance to cross this divide. She has worked hard to promote cross-cultural connections and bring international students into the campus community, which has helped them share their experiences and create community. In addition to her DEI work, Ekta is involved in research, examining disenfranchisement, education policy, its effects on low-income families, and women’s rights. Graduating with a BA in Criminology, Law, and Justice and a BS in Political Science, Ekta will soon attend law school.

SLA 2021 photo Cass Nguyen

Cass Nguyen

As a burgeoning student affairs professional, Cass has spent the last two years balancing graduate classes with her position as an Assistant Hall Coordinator, supporting students while being in school herself. This is an arduous task, but one that she has excelled at. Cass is a natural at connecting with and advocating for students, bringing energy to every space she enters, and creating room for herself and others to grow in their understanding of DEI. She is humble, passionate, and always seeking to learn more. Besides her classes and staff position, Cass has served in several DEI roles within Residence Education and worked as a practicum student with MISSE. Cass is currently seeking a full-time position in residence life.

SLA 2021 photo Aileen Ponce

Aileen Ponce

Aileen is graduating with a BSE in Biomedical Engineering. Over the last four years, Aileen has pushed for sustainable change in the College of Engineering. She has served as an Inclusion Agent, Engineering Student Ambassador, and Biomedical Engineering Student Society member. Aileen also facilitates MESA tutoring with K-12 students in the Iowa City area and has been an RA for 3 years, 2 years in the People in Engineering LLC. In every role, Aileen centers on equity, care, and developing others’ understanding of students’ responsibilities outside of school. One nominator shared that “Aileen has always been a person that listens to others, celebrates others, and is committed to being a lifelong learner.” After graduating, Aileen will start in the industry before pursuing a master’s degree

SLA 2021 photo Sam Singh

Sam Singh

Sam is graduating with a BBA in Finance, a minor in Human Relations, and a Risk Management and Insurance certificate. As a highly involved Tippie student, she has immersed herself into making the college a more inclusive and diverse space. Her work supporting international students through building connections and providing mentorship is complemented by her research into historical race and gender data to improve the recruitment and retention of BIPOC students in the Finance track. Sam also holds numerous leadership roles across campus, all centered around community support and engagement. She is motivated, thorough, and connected to her communities and heritage. Upon earning her degree, Sam will begin working full-time at Health Care Service Corporation in Chicago.

SLA 2021 photo Gina Waters

Gina Waters

To quote one of Gina’s nominators, “Gina is a truly exceptional student who throws herself 100% into everything she does - and she does a lot!” As a Tippie BizEdge mentor, Peer Career Advisor, and Director of Journal Editing and Design for Peace by Peace, Gina is dedicated to helping first-generation, and BIPOC students flourish. Both nominators noted that Gina constantly seeks growth opportunities, takes the initiative, and follows through. She is an excellent team leader, which recently led her team to place 3rd in the National Diversity Case Competition and work on various international marketing projects as a student consultant. In addition to her UI experience, Gina works full-time between two organizations on and off-campus and co-founded ENG365, a service that connects native Thai speakers with English language learning services. After graduation, Gina will join Sculpt Agency to work in social and digital marketing.

SLA 2021 photo Antonio Woodard

Antonio Woodard

Upon graduating this spring with a Master's in Social Work, Antonio will become a double Hawkeye! As a student, Antonio has worked to improve campus climate within and outside of his position on the track and field team. He helped create a student-athlete advisory committee called “Speak Your Truth” to educate teammates and the UI campus on social justice issues. He held practicums with the UI Threat Assessment Team and ICPD, where he strived to work with victims of crime navigating concerning behaviors. Beyond these roles, Antonio served as a youth counselor, president for Intersection A Cappella and conducted research with the Waterloo PD. Antonio plans to utilize his degrees to work with individuals in therapy/counseling.