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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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2020-2021 Recipients

Jada Brown – September

  • President's Leadership Fellows
  • Coordinator of Spartan Mentors
  • President of Environmental Protection Coalition (EPC)
  • Student Assistant for Environmental Science
  • Independent Study with Michael Middlebrooks, assistant professor of biology
  • Jada has contributed in many ways to the UT campus and the local community this semester with her work as an executive board member for EPC. In this past month alone she has helped run meetings for the student organization, as well as putting together presentations on numerous topics including vegetarian and vegan options on campus, simple ways to help make a positive impact on the environment and the overall goals of the student organization. Also, Jada has begun working with EPC and PLF to possibly bring more convenient and environmentally friendly ways to recycle on campus. Her interest in this social action project has not only indicated her leadership skills but also her passion for improving the environment and the Tampa community.
  • Jada’s Biology I Lab mentorship has been a key example of her serving as a role model for students. Especially with COVID and hybrid classes, numerous freshmen have indicated how they are struggling to keep up. However, Jada has been an outlet for many of her lab students helping them beyond just their course material and making sure they have someone who fully supports them and their endeavors at the University.
  • There isn't a student who is more inclusive or thorough as Jada. She never leaves anyone out, and does her best to include as many of her peers as possible.

Karaline Win – October

  • Alpha Chi Omega, New Member Education Chair and VP of Intellectual Development
  • Rho Gamma for Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Week of Welcome Leader
  • BAC Mentor
  • Order of Omega Member
  • Walt Disney World Leadership Spring Break Participant
  • Karaline is a committed and caring student leader. She works with her Alpha Chi Omega sisters to ensure all 57 new members are keeping in contact with each other, building new friendships safely through virtual platforms, aiding them in assimilating to a new community, and making them feel at home.
  • Karaline also served as a Rho Gamma this semester's Panhellenic recruitment, mentoring her own group of women into finding their own sisterhood.
  • She teaches her own BAC class for freshmen. She provides her own lesson plans, PowerPoints, and talking points that fully engage her students and prepare them for their first year of college. During one of her BAC classes, Karaline spoke to the class on Systematic Inequities and Micro Aggressions. She spoke to her students about their newfound responsibility to educate and speak in solidarity for marginalized groups. The students left feeling moved, and so did she.

Bailey Walker – November

  • Career Ambassador
  • Honors Program President-Elect
  • Sustained Dialogue Moderator
  • Humane Society Volunteer
  • President's Leadership Fellows
  • President's Leadership Fellow Cohort 13 Retreat Facilitator
  • Environmental Protection Coalition Member
  • UTampa Pride Member
  • HerCampus UT Member
  • Bailey is regularly exceeding expectations in terms of taking on leadership roles and does so with a sense of professionalism, poise, grace and positive energy.
  • Bailey helps students in direct ways through helping them navigate their career development, as well as how to approach student life in a full and meaningful way.
  • As a Career Ambassador, Bailey goes above and beyond in her role, serving as a role model and leader for other Ambassadors. She represents Career Services/Student Affairs in class presentations and professionalism events on campus. She also meets with students individually to provide career coaching. It is not just that Bailey is highly involved and does a good job, she is outstanding and beyond her years in professional communication, follow-up and taking initiative — she is a model for engagement in work and engagement in academics.
  • Bailey is always the first to share personal examples and/or offer to volunteer, which inspires others to share and volunteer as well because she does so in an inclusive way that invites others to collaborate. Bailey is also an excellent role model of strong communication skills.
  • Specifically, she demonstrates personal responsibility and morals by maintaining excellent self-awareness, as well as a strong desire to learn and do things the best way possible. She displays a high level of determination to see things through for the greater good, no matter how hard situations may become.
  • She cares deeply about not just doing good, but being good, striving to help any student she meets with.

Gina Pantano – December/January

  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow (SURF), Department of Mathematics
  • RR Lyrae Observational Astronomy Research Project, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Kappa Alpha Theta Chief Operations Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, and Human Resources Director
  • Society of Physics Students President, Event Director, Treasurer, and Cofounder
  • Career Assistant, Office of Career Services
  • Computational Physics Teaching Assistant, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • UT Diplomat
  • Discover Director of Mathematics
  • Private Peer Tutor
  • Order of Omega Member
  • Pi Mu Epsilon Member
  • American Astronomical Society Member
  • American Physical Society Member
  • Gina co-founded the University of Tampa chapter of the Society of Physics Students and served on the executive board until the end of Spring 2020. As a strong role model, Gina helped reignite the organization – moving the group from the previous year's worth of storming to a year of norming and performing. She was able to take responsibility for leading through a tumultuous time, and with her high moral standing among her peers, was able to effectively bring the organization from the brink of failure to the success that it has been this year. Gina helped fund and organize a trip to the Kennedy Space Center, coordinated observational nights with the physics faculty open to UT students, created a career initiative as president and helped members attend the Embry Riddle Career Expo, UCF National Mentoring Conference, and USF CUWiP conference. She also arranged a career workshop with Career Services to teach members about personal branding and networking. 
  • Gina is a role-model and always willing to help other students. After excelling in Introduction to Programming for the Physical Sciences and Computational Physics, Gina serves as a Teaching Assistant for computational courses. She schedules multiple days a week as to assist students with difficult computational problems with Python, LaTeX, and additional programs (R and Mathematica).
  • As a SURF, Gina conducted research under Dr. Morgan McAnally on the inverse-scattering transform solving the Nonlinear Focusing Schrodinger Equation (NLS). She submitted an educational research paper to the Rose-Hulman Undergraduate Mathematics Research Journal on her experience in hopes to promote undergraduate mathematics research and to bridge the gap between graduate and undergraduate education.
  • Currently, Gina is working on a collaborative observational astronomy project on RR Lyrae variable stars. The main objective of the research project is to identify if their target objects (OP Pup and AO Lep) are still classified as RR Lyrae variable stars and to understand the physics of these stars (i.e. there rotational/revolution periods, temperature, light curves, etc.).
  • She has served on the cabinet and executive board of Kappa Alpha Theta since her initiation freshman year. She has contributed several innovative changes to the chapter such as a new point system to keep members engaged with events, implemented chapter bylaws, promoted positive attitudes toward standards of excellence and moral growth of chapter members, created risk prevention presentations including one on COVID-19, coordinated a diversity chapter workshop with guest speaker Sabrina Griffith.
  • Student Assistant Coordinator, Residence Life
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy Society Member
  • President's Leadership Fellows
  • Megan is a role model to students. She is a full-time STEM student and juggling two jobs on and off-campus. She does all this while balancing her social life and mental health. I have seen her work long hours for an entire weekend, make a to-do list 30 bullets long for school, finish it, go to sleep late, and wake up early, ready for the next day. Even with all these responsibilities, Megan upholds her grades, her social life, work, schoolwork, and personal priorities. She handles stress or any responsibility with grace.
  • During the current pandemic, Megan has worked closely with RAs to identify students who break the Spartan Shield Rules. She also has worked with her Desk Assistants to make sure the Spartan Shield is being enforced.
  • Megan is approachable and kind.  As a role model, she listens to students and even shares her own therapy experiences, encouraging seek the support they need.
  • In everything she has done, Megan has worked diligently with others as a supervisor, mentor, and even a participant.  

Abby Byrne  – March

  • President, Student Government
  • Student Coordinator at the Campus Recreation
  • As the President of Student Government (SG) in an unprecedented time, Abby has led the student body with grace and persistence. She is reliable and supportive partner to other leaders in SG.
  • As a film major, Abby uses her skills and talents developed from her experiences in her department in order to advance Student Government. For example, Abby coordinated a campus wide thank you message from the students to the hardworking members of each department present on campus. From Res Life to Dining Staff, Abby filmed, scripted, coordinated, and edited a thank you video to express gratitude in the spirit of upcoming holiday of giving. This video gave students the opportunity to reflect the last semester and give thanks to those who made it possible for students to return to their second home's and continue their education.
  • Abby is much more than a student leader. She is a kind, caring, patient, and hardworking person who is always looking to help and serve those around her. She exemplifies a person who is motivated by their passion of helping and leading those who need support and a role model. She is also trustworthy and honest.
  • Abby challenges and motivates other to be better students as well as a student leaders.

Olivia Hyde  – April

  • Resident Assistant, Residence Life
  • Vice-President of Philanthropy, Alpha Chi Omega Sorority
  • Fundraising Chair, St. Jude Up 'til Dawn
  • Kappa Delta Pi Member
  • Liv has taken the initiative to reach out to the Office of Student Conduct for a presentation regarding safety, Title IX, and general conduct information for her sorority sisters. As a leader, she actively acknowledges important topics for women and their mental and physical wellbeing.
  • As an RA, Live has co-planned a building-wide event and several floor events for her residents in Vaughn Center.
  • Liv holds high standards for herself and stays true to the University's mission.
  • In the month of April, Liv has planned a variety of volunteer opportunities for members of her community. Some of the opportunities include a park clean-up, fundraising workout class, and a clothing drive. The proceeds from these events will be going directly to The Spring of Tampa Bay. She is currently the team captain for a Relay for Life team. Liv's team is the 6th highest fundraising team on UT's campus along with Alpha Chi Omega nationally. Through these activities, she has shown outstanding leadership by the communication skills exhibited between her members and dedication to raising money for philanthropic organizations.
  • Liv serves as a role model to other students through her involvement. By being involved with a variety of organizations as well as holding leadership in the majority of them she shows a high sense of personal responsibility. Others see how dedicated she is to leave a positive legacy within those organizations.
  • She has revamped her position in Alpha Chi Omega as the Vice President of Philanthropy. Liv has created a new layout for her board by adding new chair positions under her. These chair positions will become specialists for events ran by the Up 'Til Dawn and Relay for Life boards. These new additions will allow for women to become more involved with other philanthropic organizations as well can experiencing as a liaison between a variety of organizations. As the fundraising char, Liv has compiled a list of organizations to reach out to. This list will be passed down to her predecessor. The next fundraising chair will benefit from this as more energy will be spent communicating with organizations versus taking time to research.
  • In every position she currently holds, Liv has made sure to make the position more effective for the people who will follow.