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.
Click here to go back to the Spring 2020 CDE graduation home page.
Srilekhya Akkina is graduating with a BBA in Management. Srilekhya has promoted diversity, inclusion, and student success in several roles at the Tippie College of Business, including serving as a direct admit peer mentor, a global ambassador, and a member of the Tippie team in the Leeds Diversity and Business Ethics Case Competition, where her team won first place. Srilekhya has also served as vice president of philanthropy and director of social media for the South Asian Student Alliance. Students who met her in these various capacities note that she encouraged them to get involved on campus, connecting them with student orgs that made them feel at home. Srilekhya is currently considering several promising career paths.
Tartil Ali is graduating with a BS in Psychology. Tartil has served as vice president and treasurer in the Iowa Students for Refugees organization, where she helped to organize programs raising awareness of the challenges that refugees face, and has also served as the president and social chair of Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE). Tartil is also involved in the local community. As a premedical student, she has volunteered in several positions at free clinics, including serving as a translator and patient guide. She also volunteers as a tutor as part of West High’s Backpack Project. Tartil plans to pursue a master’s degree and attend medical school.
Madhuri Belkale is graduating with a BS in Political Science and Psychology. Madhuri has championed diversity, equity, and inclusion in many roles, including when she served as the undergraduate representative on the Presidential Charter Committee on Diversity at Iowa, as a senator in UISG, as a president and chair of public relations in the pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, as the assistant multicultural initiatives director in the Homecoming executive council, and in several leadership positions in the Indian Student Alliance. Madhuri also co-founded Iowa City Red, an organization that promotes inclusion and acceptance of those with HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and educating people about HIV/AIDS. She plans to attend law school.
Anamar Blanes Diaz
Anamar Blanes Diaz is graduating with a BS in Chemistry. As an undergraduate research assistant, Anamar has contributed to several projects associated with the remediation of uranium from the environment, and has been a coauthor on two publications in peer-reviewed journals. She has also made numerous presentations at local, regional, and national meetings. Anamar has mentored new undergraduate researchers in the lab and in the Iowa Biosciences Academy by offering laboratory shadowing, sitting on panels, and talking to students about research. This semester, she is also working with the IBA’s director to develop curriculum on effective undergraduate mentoring based upon evidence-based best practices. Anamar plans to attend graduate school at Georgetown University.
Erick Calma is graduating with a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. In his time at UI, Erick has focused his energy on making engineering and STEM more inclusive environments for students. Erick has served as the president and fundraising chair of Theta Tau, has promoted STEM involvement among underrepresented minority students through his work as an inclusion agent, serves as a lead tutor for the MESA tutoring program, and has provided guidance to engineering students as a peer advisor. Erick has also involved himself with several K-12 outreach efforts, including the pen pal program, Noche de Ciencias, and Black Girls Do Science.
Devonte Chism is graduating with a BA in Global Health Studies. His colleagues in the Orientation Services office credit him with playing a key role in making their programming as inclusive of all UI students as possible in a time of significant transition, and describe him as a strong advocate for his fellow students. They also note that he has been heavily involved in researching best practices for serving incoming students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Devonte has also been a leader in Dance Marathon, Homecoming Council, and Alpha Sigma Phi, where he is a founding member and has served as president.
Andrea Courtney is graduating with an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In her time at the University of Iowa, she has spent several years advocating for moving Student Disability Services (SDS) out of the basement of Burge Residence Hall. The SDS office is now scheduled to relocate to the first floor of the University Capitol Centre. In her role as UISDAA president, Andrea helped carry out a wide variety of disability awareness events, advocated for disabled students in many venues across campus, and has worked with several university departments to plan and fund UI’s first ever disability graduation ceremony for 2020. She has also been a member of the University Counseling Service Student Advisory Board since the fall of 2018. She plans to specialize in providing psychotherapy to people with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
Shemaa Dafalla is graduating with a BS in Global Health Studies on the Pre-Medicine track. Shemaa has served in several positions in the Walk It Out Multicultural Organization, including the president, working to provide a space for students from 7 underrepresented communities to share their talents, fashion, culture, and pride. Shemaa led an organization of more than two hundred students in putting on a show in the fall and spring semesters. For the 2019 show, Shemaa organized to have HIV testing available at the show and helped to raise money for the Johnson County HIV Clinic. Shemaa has also held several other roles on campus, including serving as a Resident Assistant to over 120 first-year students and president of the Hillcrest and Mayflower residence hall councils.
Isabela Flores is graduating with a BA in Secondary Education with a minor in Latino/a/x Studies and a certificate in Critical Cultural Competence. As the student lead at the Latino Native American Cultural Center, as the Director of Justice and Equity in UISG, and as the president of the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, Isabela has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to justice in her time at UI. Isabela was also a cofounder of the Womxn’s Day Summit, served on two search committees for essential Student Life positions in 2019, and has volunteered for too many programs to list.
Taha Gesalla is graduating with a BS in Biomedical Sciences. After transferring from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in 2017, Taha quickly took on a leadership role at UI, serving as president of the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS). His peers credit him with helping to rapidly grow the organization’s active membership. He maintains an active interest in DMACC, where he still visits regularly, working to connect students there with valuable resources and programs, including in his role as an ambassador for the Summer Health Professional Education Program (SHPEP). He also volunteers at Mercy Hospital and the UI Mobile Clinic, providing translation and various other services, and in the local community, where he helps to plan and execute local events. Taha plans to attend medical school.
Alvin Jones is graduating with a BA in African American Studies and Communication Studies. As a member of the Alpha Theta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alvin coordinated volunteer and mentoring opportunities with Ronald McDonald House and West High, as well as campus events focusing on mental health. As comedy chair for the Campus Activities Board, Alvin helped to organize programming that would interest and serve Black students. He is also the secretary of the UI Black Student Union, and during his time studying abroad in Australia, Alvin helped to found the first black student association at the University of Newcastle. He plans to continue his studies at the University of Central Florida, where he will pursue an MA in Communications.
Jaskiran Kaur is graduating with a BBA in Marketing Management. In her time at UI, Jaskiran has worked hard to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Tippie College of Business. As the first vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Tippie Senate, she planned the first Diwali event for the college, which also led to further inclusive programming. She also served as the vice president of marketing for the Multicultural Business Student Association, where she has used her marketing skills to promote their work. Jaskiran has also impacted her fellow students by serving as a Tippie Biz Edge mentor. She plans to do a summer internship while searching for a job in the field of marketing.
Ray Khothisen is graduating with a BA in Interdepartmental Studies - Applied Human Services, with an emphasis in community-based services. His efforts on campus have shown a dedication to supporting incoming students and helping them thrive at UI. He has served as an Iowa Edge peer leader, a resident assistant, and a center programming assistant at the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center, as well as holding roles of increasing responsibility in Orientation Services, including, most recently, membership in the executive team, where he has served as a role model for new staff, creating training materials and facilitating sessions including diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Ray also served as VP of media relations in the Higher Education Student Organization. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs.
Jeremiah Moody is graduating with a BA in Philosophy and Sport & Recreation Management. In his time at UI, Jeremiah has volunteered both on and off campus, serving at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital and helping to create a haunted house at a local community center, among other efforts. He also represented the wrestling team at the Multicultural Focus Group, promoting campus initiatives, bringing in speakers on social justice topics, and providing networking opportunities for student-athletes. Jeremiah plans to compete for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club.
Maliya Rattliffe is a 2020 JD graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law. She has worked diligently throughout her law school tenure to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at the College of Law, the campus community, and the legal profession as a whole. Maliya served as 1L representative, Vice President, and treasurer of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). She also served as a facilitator in BSLA’s Street Law program. Additionally, Maliya was a dedicated member of the law school’s DEI committee. As a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International, Maliya served as two term Vice President. To culminate her experience at the College of Law, Maliya was elected by her classmates to serve as Graduation Chair of the Iowa Student Bar Association, where she led the planning and execution of commencement activities. Upon graduation, Maliya will relocate to Minneapolis, MN where she will work as a litigation associate at Fox Rothschild, LLP.
Alexia Sanchez is graduating with a BA in Political Science and Social Justice, as well as a minor in Philosophy and Latina/o Studies. In her roles as an at-large senator for UI Student Government, as the UISG student life committee chair, and as a residence hall assistant, she has overseen many student life initiatives, including co-chairing the 2019 “I’m the First” First Generation Summit and the creation of the Latinx Living Learning Community, UNIDOS. She also served as the undergraduate representative for the charter committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion; as an Iowa Edge peer leader; and as a regular participant in recruitment and retention programs. Alexia currently serves as the President of the Council 308 of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and interns with the UI Center for Human Rights. She will be working for Schabel Solutions in Des Moines.
Recipients for the Student Leadership Awards are chosen through a competitive process. Congratulations to the other nominees!
They are as follows: Jose Duran, Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, Ashley Morrow, and Joshua Yem.