Your time at St. Edward’s will be filled with a lot more than classes. The possibilities for learning are practically limitless.

These nine graduating seniors — all 2019 Presidential Award winners — forged their own unique paths at St. Edward’s that prepared them for careers in finance, social work, medical sciences and teaching, to name a few. While on the hilltop, they started organizations to bring meaningful change. They gained career experience through incredible internships. They studied abroad to challenge their perspectives. And they volunteered their time locally and globally to serve others.

What will you do to make the most of your college experience? See how these Hilltoppers lived theirs fully — and what they’re doing next.

Growing through Experience and Risk. Powerfully.

Jovahana Avila, Presidential Award Recipient, St. Edward's University

Jovahana Avila ’19, Political Science

On the Hilltop:

* Rebuilt the Latino Student Leaders Organization and created a platform for Latinx voices to talk about their experiences
* Got an up-close view of city, state and federal government through internships at the Austin mayor’s office, Texas House of Representatives and the United States Congress
* Earned a programs internship at Annie’s List, a political action committee aimed toward electing progressive women into Texas office

What’s Next:
“I’ll be working as a global compliance analyst at Goldman Sachs in Dallas. I’m eager to walk into this new space, learn everything I can, and open doors for the next person.” 

 Finding Meaning in Actions. Purposefully.

Katrina Bush, Presidential Award Recipient

Katrina Bush ’19, Biology with a Pre-Health Concentration

On the Hilltop:
* Advocated for health equity on a global scale as president of the St. Edward’s chapter of GlobeMed
* Planned a nutrition project for Asociación Tierra in Nicaragua
* Served the homeless at C.D. Doyle Clinic, a free health clinic in Austin

What’s Next:
“I’m attending Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. I’m convinced that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. As a doctor, I want to help ensure that everyone has access to the highest standard of healthcare, regardless of socioeconomic status.”

Accepting All People and Fighting for What’s Right. Successfully. 

Jennifer Dennington ’19, Special Education

On the Hilltop:
* Spent a week experiencing homelessness in Phoenix at the Andre House of Hospitality
* Worked with people with intellectual disabilities in Montreal, Canada, during her spring break
* Raised more than $2,000 for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund by organizing a campus talent show

What’s Next:
“Right after graduation, I’m leading my final Service Break Experience to Peru for two weeks. I’ll start teaching Middle School English Inclusion for Austin Independent School District this fall.” 

 Empowering Others to Be the Change They Want to See. Artfully. 

Lilli Hime, Presidential Award Recipient, St. Edward's University

Lilli Hime ’19, English Writing and Rhetoric

On the Hilltop:
* Started an organization called AmericaIWill to empower students to get involved in their communities to foster change
* Created a campus event to showcase undocumented voices
* Led a workshop called Inside the Out Mask Project, which used art to fight the stigma against mental illness

What’s Next:
"I'm excited to get to live in and be a part of East Asian culture again as a Fulbright Student in Taiwan. I studied abroad in China for a summer and that was incredible. Improving my Mandarin is a goal and something I want to use when I get back to the States.” 

Sharing Equity, Community and Stories. Joyfully.

Rachel Leader ’19, Sociology

On the Hilltop:
* Studied abroad for a semester in Chiang Mai, Thailand, confirming her desire to be a servant leader
* Conducted community research with her sociology professor and presented at academic conferences
* Was a dynamic student leader as a resident assistant, tour guide, S.E.R.V.E 1 Day volunteer and Equity & Justice council member

What’s Next:
“I’m leading a 12-day service experience to South Africa. After that, I’m heading to Taiwan to teach English for a year, thanks to the Fulbright scholarship program. I want to really get to know the Taiwanese people and communities and celebrate their stories.” 

Practicing Compassion through Service. Thoughtfully.

Bridget MacDonald, Presidential Award Recipient, St. Edward's University

Bridget MacDonald ’19, Social Work

On the Hilltop:
* Interned at the National Council for Adoption in the Washington, D.C., area
* Served three communities during Service Break Experiences
* Research and wrote her thesis on sibling relationships during a parental terminal illness and presented it at the St. Edward’s Honors Symposium

What’s Next:
“I’m doing a year of service in Philadelphia with Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Following that, I’ll pursue my Master of Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, beginning in Fall 2020.” 

Finding Her Place and Advocating for Others. Skillfully.

Sydney Mitchell, Presidential Award Recipient, St. Edward's University

Sydney Mitchell ’19, Behavioral Neuroscience

On the Hilltop:
* Confronted critical issues of society during two weeklong Social Justice Journeys
* Conducted in-depth research on how race and physicality affect sentencing in the judicial system, which was published in the McNair Scholars Research Journal
* Advocated for other students as a resident assistant (RA), while being a leader among the RA staff

What’s Next:
“My McNair research project inspired me to pursue a PhD in psychology. I plan to focus on the hyper-surveillance and awareness of Black bodies and how it impacts the Black community in seeking mental healthcare.”

Being an Agent of Positive Change. Mindfully.

Amanda S. Rodriguez ’19, Finance

On the Hilltop:
* Mentored kindergarteners and first graders at Foundation Communities in Austin
* Connected Hilltoppers with service opportunities as a senior team leader of S.E.R.V.E. 1 Day
* Served as chief financial officer, service director and vice president of the Student Government Association

What’s Next:
“I’m participating in a two-week Concert/Pilgrimage Tour to the Baltic States and Finland with the SEU Choir and Masterworks Singers. After that, I’m returning to Dallas to explore job opportunities in financial analysis.”

Supporting Hilltop Spirit and Wellbeing. Zestfully.  

Marlaina Widmann ’19, Behavioral Neuroscience

On the Hilltop:
* Led school spirit as captain of the Topperettes Dance Team
* Developed and implemented programming on health topics as a leader of Peer Health Educators
* Supported the wellness of all Hilltoppers as the student health and wellbeing coordinator 

What’s Next:
“I’m entering the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth to earn my master’s in medical science. After that, I plan to attend medical school and work as a doctor of osteopathic medicine due to its more holistic philosophy and approach to medicine.”