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Every month, the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement honors a student leader who has made positive contributions to The University of Tampa. The Bob Ruday Student Leader of the Month exemplifies leadership traits, goes above and beyond to contribute to the UT community. The recipients serve as a role model to other students and display a high sense of personal responsibility and morals. Students, faculty, staff and off-campus contacts are encouraged to nominate a student for this award. Self-nominations are also accepted.

If you have a student in mind that fits this description, please nominate them. Forms must be submitted by the last Friday of each month. One recipient will be chosen each month and will receive an award certificate, $150, and UT swag.

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2021-2022 Recipients

Tamar Shimon - April 

  • Chemistry and Communication and Speech Studies Major/History Minor
  • General Chemistry Lab Mentor
  • First-Year Experience Mentor
  • Florida Communication Association Conference, Presenter
  • National Communication Association Conference, Presenter 
  • Tamar Shimon is an active tutor in the chemistry department, Honors program, and UT Speech Center. She has been active within our Communication & Speech Studies program. For years, Tamar has been a gifted tutor at the UT Center for Public Speaking (as well as being the supervisor for the center for quite some time).
  • Tamar holds the record as the most requested tutor with her time slots filling up weeks before anyone else because student clients appreciate her specific and positive feedback. Given her hard work, she was promoted to an “advanced” tutor whereby she trained the new tutors to follow in her footsteps.
  • Tamar is also a recent impressive undergraduate researcher. At the Florida Communication Association (FCA) conference, she presented her work on “Anti-Semitic Hate Speech on Twitter” and won the “Best Undergraduate Paper” award.
  • Moreover, she presented her “Compliance-Gaining Persuasive Strategies” and “Communication Centers” presentations at the most recent National Communication Association (NCA) convention. Given that the NCA acceptance rate is approximately 14%, it is quite the accomplishment that she was able to present at a national convention as an undergraduate student. She is a kind leader and deserves to be recognized for these reasons.
  • As a role model, she is very personable and always willing to help others. I have seen Tamar stop working on her own homework to help a stressed student with his presentation, even when Tamar was no longer on the clock as a speech center tutor.
  • Tamar is the rare type of person that is kind, competent, and willing to go the extra mile for others. She is the positive force that you want beside you when you need to accomplish a difficult task. Tamar will get it done.

Akshay Bhuva - March

  • Spartan Accelerator & Incubator Program, Member
  • UT GOLD Graduate Student Organization, Vice President
  • As a member of the Spartan Accelerator program at the Lowth Entrepreneurship Centre at UT, Akshay has dedicated time and energy to run his technology start-up, Kitchenery. He works alongside other student entrepreneurs in the accelerator and inspires everyone with his commitment and perseverance towards his entrepreneurial journey.
  • Akshay has worked with multiple UT faculties to develop the business model of Kitchenery, this includes organization culture & structure, branding and marketing strategies, financial models, executional plans and holistic business model development. His company Kitchenery has given opportunities to the M.S in finance students to work on developing real world dynamic financial and marketing models.
  • At UT GOLD in the Sykes College of Business., he works alongside other executive members to plan, coordinate, execute and manage on-campus UT GOLD events. In recent days, Akshay coordinated the Fall 2021 Happy Hour Halloween event on October 20th where UT graduate students had the opportunity to interact with one-other and form long-lasting relationships.
  • With his Executive network in Tampa Bay, Akshay was a liaison for UT GOLD and launched a food drive campaign in collaboration with the non-profit organization Feeding Tampa Bay. With this drive, our goal is to empower UT students by community engagement and incorporating a social mission in their personal and professional life.
  • Akshay was invited to be a guest speaker in undergraduate entrepreneurship classes by two UT faculty members Dr. Alexiou Kostas & Dr. Speros Margetis, where he inspired students with his journey and spoke about leveraging various start-up and business executional resources available to UT students, most importantly the process of having access to the available resources and getting involved! He educated students about the spartan accelerator program and the entrepreneurial activities and events happening at the Lowth Center as well as in the Tampa Bay start-up ecosystem.
  • Akshay has also advised a handful of undergraduate & graduate students on lean business model and doing real world hypothesis testing to validate the assumptions in the model. Akshay has achieved phenomenal traction in recent days, both in terms of business execution and developing entrepreneurial mindset.
  • He has represented University of Tampa, Spartan Accelerator, and Kitchenery in many conferences. some of the recent, popular conferences that he attended in Oct- 2021 are Florida Venture Forum, Tampa Bay Innovation Gathering, and 38th Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization global conference.  He also opened doors to 3 other UT entrepreneurship students to join the conference that gave them exceptional networking opportunity and exposure to start-up ecosystem in Tampa.

Amelia Gaudio – February

  • Political Science and Philosophy Major/Law, Justice, and Advocacy and Leadership Studies Minor
  • President’s Leadership Fellows, Student Coordinator and Cohort 13 Member
  • Environmental Protection Coalition, Member
  • UT College Democrats, Membership Director
  • President Leadership Fellows
  • THAT! Outreach Center Volunteer
  • Florida Undergraduate Research Conference, Presenter
  • Florida Political Science Association Conference, Presenter
  • Amelia helps with managing PLF events, including meetings and volunteering. She is consistently spreading event information and encouraging her friends to try new clubs.
  • No matter what Amelia's going through, she continues to put her friends, strangers, and schoolwork before herself. 
  • Amelia's course load has been intensive since her first semester, and her grades prove her willingness to succeed. 
  • I (nominator) always find out my UT news from her, and I believe she is the most deserving of recognition for her devotion to bettering this school.

Tori Walters – December/January

  • UT Honors College, Member (Oxford England Study Abroad Spring 2022)
  • UT Student Government, Member and Judicial Advisory Board
  • Office of Career Services, Career Ambassador
  • UT Mock Trial Club, Vice President
  • Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society, Member
  • UT President's Leadership Fellows Cohort 12
  • UT Diplomats, Judicial Review Board Member and Slating Committee Member
  • UT WOW (Week of Welcome) Leader
  • UT Orientation Leader
  • Leadership Tampa, Education Day, Student Leaders Panel (50 Tampa Bay Community Members)
  • Tori, in the past month, has contributed to so many UT events through her involvement to where she is at many times representing more than one student organization or group at once. For example, at UT Career Services events such as the Internship, Full time, and UT After Hours events, Tori is representing both Career Services as a Career Ambassador, but also the UT Diplomats with checking in students. Even at such events such as the Parents and Family/Alumni weekend, Tori is representing UT Diplomats while welcoming students, parents, and alumni. Furthermore, even at the last UT campus wide event of the President's 90 Year UT Anniversary celebration, Tori represented the UT Diplomats in welcoming Alumni back to campus and being a great host.
  • Tori has not only been the definition of a strong, and collaborative leader by supporting her fellow peers in these roles, but also an individual who motivates others through positivity and encouragement to do their best, represent their best, and be the best representation of UT.
  • Not limited to just UT, but Tori has also gone out into the community through her involvement at UT. There are countless people from current students, faculty, staff, UT Community, Tampa Bay Community, and UT Donors that know Tori due to her outstanding professionalism and eccentric demeanor. A great example of this is when Tori volunteered to assist and support an event that was being the UT student representative for Tampa Bay wide community event, Leadership Tampa for Education Day where she was a panelists and representative for UT for an audience of 50 professionals from all industries in the Tampa Bay Community. Please note that this is connected to the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce and is connection to so many businesses in Tampa!
  • Tori's leadership style goes beyond "the typical leader", but through leadership by example. She is willing to do the hard physical work and even put her own life and academics aside to make sure things get done. She makes sure things just don't get done though, she ensures that they are performed the correct way. The pride and effort she puts in to her work is evident by all the positive things anyone who interacts with her will state.
  • Tori is consistently getting involved in mentorship programs and volunteering initiatives that drive forth the encouragement for students and her peers to get involved. She walks the walk, and supports students as they find their niche area at UT. Without Tori, so many students would be wandering around looking for a sense of direction.
  • Through Tori's small interactions of smiling and checking in students to being a representative of UT at campus and community wide events, she is showing students that they should get involved, seek to learn more about their community and themselves, and grow as an individual by supporting others in their endeavors.
  • When you say "UT Family", that is what Tori is the definition of; going above and beyond in multiple areas to help those that she can.

Madigan Smith - November

  • Student Coordinator for Marketing, Office of Student Leadership and Engagement
  • Data Analytics Club, Member
  • PEACE Volunteer
  • American Marketing Association, Member
  • Vice President of Marketing and Public Relationships, Alpha Chi Omega
  • ELITE Leadership Program, 2018 Participant
  • In this past month alone, there are numerous examples of how Madigan has contributed to this community. Madigan volunteered her day on a Friday at the beginning of the month. She helped facilitate and participate in two weeks of sorority recruitment for Fall 2021. This includes volunteering her time to set up, break down and do tabling on her own time. Not to mention, Madigan has consistently worked throughout the entirety of the month while also keeping up with her school work.
  • Even with everything she also manages to be a leader by being a friend to multiple women, including me (nominator), during this past month. At the end of the day, a real leader is someone you can always count on and will be there for you, which is Madigan.
  • Madigan is an extremely good role model for students all throughout UT's campus. She is highly involved, keeps her GPA high and always kind and outgoing to others. When students see her on school, they will catch her either working, studying or promoting her sorority in a positive way. A role model is someone you know will always be practicing being her best self and Madigan is this person. 
  • Madigan is definitely an excellent example of a leader on our campus and an award will not change this but will offer her the knowledge to know her good morale does not go unseen.

Emily Payne – October

  • President Leadership Fellows, Student Coordinator
  • Center for Public Speaking, Advanced Speech Tutor
  • Student Engagement Assistant,Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, Summer 2020
  • Phi Kappa Phi, Member
  • Phi Alpha Delta, Member
  • Autism Awareness Shop: Thrift Store and Vocational Training, Volunteer
  • Emily is heavily involved on campus and consistently contributes to OSLE as well as the campus community. Currently, she is helping an attorney start her own practice in Dade City and she is very dedicated to her pre-law studies and to create a more socially just world.
  • Emily is simply outstanding! Since she is now spending much of her time on this new law practice, she has transitioned some of her roles on campus to other students. During this transition, I have really seen Emily shine as a dependable leader. Emily has demonstrated how much she cares this month. In order to ensure a smooth transition, she has dedicated her time to passing on the torch and training our new student coordinators. She has also remained an active member in the speech center, empowering other students to take on her role, and continuing to provide excellent services.
  • Emily is dependable and action-oriented. She is also mature beyond her years. Not only have I observed her taking initiative to make the President's Leadership Fellows program stronger, I know she has done the same to all the areas at UT. Emily is trustworthy, insightful, and caring. Her attention to detail, dedication, and leadership is inspirational!

Valeria Perez – September

  • Student Coordinator for Sustained Dialogue, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Student Government Chair of Diversity
  • Office Assistant for Residence Life
  • Valeria has been an upstanding leader joining Sustained Dialogue as a transfer student last year. She immediately got involved with the executive board and helped the organization become more organized. She became a phenomenal Moderator.
  • She helped develop SSD and also has connected with Student government and other unity groups to create a collaborative environment surrounding Diversity and Inclusion programming. She has also reached out to Success Scholars for collaborative programs as well.
  • She was the leading force behind the majority of our programs this semester. She really helped organize her peers last school year when she joined. She enjoys building relationships.
  • Valeria has helped the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement do a number of programs with groups like Campus Crowns, BSU, Student Government, Sigma Lambda Gamma, etc. She continues to try to carve out a space for unseen students on campus.
  • She functions as a values-based leader. Everything she does she gives it her all because she wants the organization to succeed. She does not compromise on her personal beliefs. While she has learned to communicate through sustained dialogue with people who have differing beliefs, she doesn't compromise herself and the quality work she tries to bring to every endeavor that is put out.
  • Valeria is honest in an unwavering fashion. She hopes that everyone is engaging with her in an honest way. She is genuinely disappointed when others are not. She is dependable. If she gives you her word she will get things done. She shows up for herself and others.