In a year of incredible challenges, Hilltoppers rose above it all! We’re proud of our students for their strength and resilience, and honored to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our Class of 2021.

Among this year’s graduates are these 10 Presidential Award winners who took every opportunity to live their college experience fully. They received academic honors and awards. They created and led campus organizations and events focused on social justice and personal growth. They took on rewarding internships and research that open doors to careers. And they volunteered their time in Austin and beyond to serve others. 

Below, we share some of their top achievements along with their video messages to current and new Hilltoppers. See how these standout students gained the most from their time at St. Edward’s — and how they’re taking on their world.


Growing As a Servant Leader. Mindfully.

Jasmine Adgerson smiling outdoors

Jasmine Adgerson ’21, Kinesiology/Pre-Physical Therapy

  • Volunteered in Austin with the Greater Opportunities (GO) Program, assisting people with disabilities completing their education; and the PALS Program, facilitating overnight trips for adults with Down syndrome. Joined SERVE Austin as a math tutor to 7th graders at Austin Partners in Education.
  • Directed The Big Event, the largest campus-wide service event of the year. Due to the pandemic, she quickly pivoted to make the first-ever virtual Big Event a highly successful and rewarding experience. 
  • Participated in two Service Break Experiences. Helped a disaster relief organization in New Orleans reconstruct a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Served with a nonprofit in Los Angeles dedicated to rehabilitating former gang members into society.

“My peers’ ability to maintain a positive outlook despite any obstacles that may arise serves as a reminder to approach every day with a glass-half-full philosophy. Living with optimism continuously shows me that failures offer opportunities for growth.” 


“I plan to begin the process of applying to physical therapy programs this summer. In the meantime, I’ll continue working in Austin as a physical therapy technician at Texas Physical Therapy Specialists.”


Analyzing and Solving Complex Problems. Skillfully.

Stella Cunningham smiling outdoors

Stella Cunningham ’21, Mathematics

  • Explored and proposed solutions for the complex problem of food insecurity in the Austin community. Volunteered at local food pantries and interviewed leaders across the city about how to sustainably address the issue.
  • Applied her math and data analysis skills in an internship with The Nature Conservancy, conducting ecological surveys in Austin. Presented the environmental changes she observed to local leaders and advocated for conservation efforts. 
  • Contributed ground-breaking math research on Tarot card readings through her undergraduate thesis. Presented her findings at national conferences like the Mathematical Association of America Joint Mathematics Meeting, where her poster was awarded honorable mention.

“Having the opportunity to explore current math research with the guidance and mentorship of Professor Callahan allowed me to build confidence in tackling new concepts. Being able to present my research has helped me grow as a speaker and show new audiences the beauty of math.” 


“With my mathematics and computer science background, I’m applying for jobs and looking for a role as a data analyst, where I can leverage my analytical problem-solving skills to impact decision making. I’m eager to get hands-on experience in the industry.”


What Inspired Us to Choose St. Edward’s

From small classes to a beautiful campus to a close-knit community, our Presidential Award winners share their reasons for making the hilltop their home.


Advocating for Equity and Inclusion. Purposefully.

Cristobal Garcia Quiroz

Cristobal Garcia-Quiroz ’21, Biology and Political Science

  • Served in a leadership role with the Student Government Association, helping to increase minority participation by over 50% during his tenure. 
  • Recognized for academic excellence as a McNair Scholar, Dell Health Undergraduate Scholar at the University of Texas, and a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. Co-founded the first chapter of Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society at St. Edward’s.
  • Volunteered as a tax specialist and Spanish translator for the nonprofit Foundation Communities. Helped the organization achieve a refund of over $35 million for predominantly Latinx and Black Austin residents who are forced to navigate a complex, challenging tax system.

“Lean into mistakes and failure. Growth requires us to cherish the times where we don’t find success because it’s during these situations that our ingenuity and instinct are maximized towards success.”


“I’m moving to New York City to pursue graduate studies in public policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. I am excited to keep pursuing equity related to Latinx, LGBTQ+ and low-income populations from a policy perspective!”


Excelling in Professional Roles. Resourcefully.

Victoria Garcia

Victoria Renee Garcia ’21, Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement

  • Landed an internship at the Texas Capitol and created a Representative for a Day program which allowed college students to visit the Capitol and have a hands-on learning experience about the legislative process.
  • Joined the Austin Travis-County Sobering Center full-time as an outreach coordinator. Single-handedly managed the center’s outreach efforts, sharing clients’ stories on social media, learning grant writing and communicating with stakeholders about the center’s work providing treatment and recovery options to publicly intoxicated individuals.
  • Served as the assistant director of administration for Honor Flight Austin, an organization that takes WWII, Korea and Vietnam War veterans to see their memorials. Managed administrative functions on flights of over 90 veterans and volunteers.

“It’s an honor to have been a founding member and first president of the American Criminal Justice Association, Beta Phi Zeta Chapter at St. Edward’s. Together with my classmates, and now lifelong friends, we created a legacy that will carry on for Hilltoppers to come.” 


“I’ll continue my work as a community outreach and education coordinator with the Austin-Travis County Sobering Center. I’m excited to help with development and public awareness efforts for the center’s recovery support services and jail and hospital diversion program.”


The Advantages of Our St. Edward's Education

From great professors to countless opportunities to learn and grow, our Presidential Award winners share the benefits of their St. Edward’s experience.


Serving and Ministering to Others. Joyfully.

Jessica Guerriero smiling outside on campus at St. Edward's University

Jessica Guerriero ’21, Catholic Studies/Education

  • Took on multiple leadership roles with Campus Ministry. Served as a program coordinator for all retreats as well as a group leader. Led weekly meetings, organized activities, facilitated small-group reflections, launched a new day retreat, and successfully planned socially distanced retreats.
  • Joined a Service Break Experience to Jamaica to volunteer with Mustard Seed Communities. Assisted the staff with caring for children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. 
  • Devoted her Honors Thesis to researching, interviewing and sharing the stories of men and women in the Holy Cross community, examining how their faith gave them the strength and perspective to live out the Holy Cross mission.

“My biggest lesson in college was through one of my biggest blessings — the caring community at St. Ed’s! This community filled me with joy, hope and comfort, especially this past year. I learned how important it is to surround yourself with people who support you and push you to grow.”


“I’m attending Notre Dame in the fall to pursue a master’s in Divinity. I'm super excited to continue my Holy Cross education and receive more formation for my future work in ministry.” 


Engaging in the Political Process. Powerfully.

Rania Garcia

Rania Lewis ’21, International Business and Business Administration

  • Spent weekends volunteering at Casa Marianella through SERVE Austin, teaching English to and coordinating legal services support for newly arrived immigrants from across the globe.
  • Founded the Global Business and Policy Leaders Society on campus and volunteered with the Texas Democratic Party, advocating for expanded voter registration in high schools and organizing voter registration drives that registered almost 4,000 students across Central Texas.
  • Worked as a legislative aide for a Texas state representative and a volunteer for a number of political campaigns, helping strengthen efforts to engage more youth voters in the political process.

“My greatest life lesson is one that I constantly heard throughout my senior year: When one door closes, another door opens. I found myself lost on what to do post-graduation during Covid-19 and had many ‘doors’ shut in my face, but a door finally opened for me that was better than I could’ve imagined!”


“I’m moving to the UK as a Rotary Global Grant Scholar to attend Queen’s University Belfast for my master’s in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice. I'm excited to learn more about Northern Ireland's history of conflict and apply that knowledge to current issues in the world. After this, I hope to attend law school, focusing on civil rights and constitutional law.”


How St. Edward's Prepared Us to Take on Our World

From real-world experiences to leadership and service opportunities, our Presidential Award winners share how they pursued their passions on the hilltop.


Amplifying the Voices and Safety of Students. Insightfully.

Lauren Louk

Lauren Louk ’21, Business Administration

  • Became a site leader and then lead program coordinator for SERVE Austin, helping to educate participants on social justice issues like immigration and poverty and growing the number of volunteers from 100 to 150. Volunteered with American Youthworks, an alternate high school that helps students prepare for the GED.
  • Led the student movement #YourMoveSEU that worked to advocate for increased transparency and student protections in the university’s Title IX policies. As a result, St. Edward’s established a Survivor Support group for survivors of sexual assault, and a Title IX Student Advisory Board that created a communication plan to better inform students of their rights. 
  • Founded and directed SafeWalk SEU, a student escort program that connected anyone on the hilltop (students, faculty or staff) who had to travel across campus at night with thoroughly vetted student volunteers who could accompany them.

“I've always said: Sometimes we have to do hard things, but it’s because hard things make us great. This defined my college experience. A lot of the things I did on and off campus were hard, and they challenged me in ways I couldn’t even imagine — but each challenge made me into the person I am today.” 


“I’ve been interning with Cognite, a global SaaS company, and I’ll be coming on full time with them as their first Sales Enablement Associate in North America. I'm excited to start my career at Cognite and be part of our expansion across the continent!


Discovering Passions and Taking Risks. Successfully.

Isabel Plant

Isabel Plant ’21, Sociology

  • Founded Hilltoppers CARE, an organization that collaborated with other campus leaders to create and stock a campus food pantry for students experiencing food insecurity. Was awarded the Mary Doyle Risk Taker Award for her work on the project. 
  • Named the River City Youth Foundation Volunteer of the year for her work leading groups of volunteers in tutoring, and mentoring students from underserved communities. 
  • Facilitated enriching service experiences for dozens of her peers as a program coordinator for SERVE Austin. Worked closely with SERVE Austin site leaders and helped them reflect on their leadership development and connect their work to larger social justice issues.

“My mentors on the hilltop have had a great impact on who I am today. They’ve challenged me to find creative ways to work toward justice; taught me effective forms of advocacy; guided me in starting a program that served our campus community; and helped me grow in my self-confidence. St. Edward’s has given me the tools I need to move on to my next endeavors. It has helped me determine the kind of person I want to be and what I want for my future.”


I am planning to pursue a master’s in social work and look forward to a career where I can advocate for and stand with people most affected by social justice issues.


Why We're Excited About Our Future

From landing meaningful full-time jobs to receiving prestigious scholarships from top graduate schools, our Presidential Award winners share their plans for making a difference.


Being a Leader for Positive Change. Thoughtfully.

Jennifer Rangubphai

Jennifer Rangubphai ’18, MSLC ’20
Master of Science in Leadership and Change

  • Co-founded Thruck — a long-distance ride sharing service that uses the empty seats of commercial trucks — for the annual St. Edward’s iChallenge Business Plan Competition. Thruck was awarded first-place at the national level (a first for the St. Edward’s community) and is now attracting venture capital attention. 
  • Volunteered with for the VICTORY Tutorial program in Austin for four years, providing individualized instruction for 8th grade students and helping them navigate not just school work, but real-world issues like systemic racism and unconscious bias. 
  • In her work with the City of Austin, she actively participates in forums, panels and professional networks that represent and uplift the voices of marginalized communities, people of color and the local LGBTQ community.

“It really touched my heart deeply when my grandmother passed away and I received handwritten notes from faculty, administrators and staff at St. Edward’s offering support and uplifting sentiments.”


“In the short term, I will continue as a public servant for the City of Austin to help make Austin the most livable and best managed city. Longer-term, I am seeking to get my PhD in public policy and travel the world helping, healing and creating.”


Empowering Leaders and Community. Masterfully.

Jessica Riley

Jessica Carol Riley ’21, Social Work

  • Held multiple leadership roles with the Student Government Association. Represented student concerns to university administration, and helped deepened trust and understanding between SGA and the student body.
  • Took the reins of the St. Edward’s chapter of IGNITE, a national organization building the next generation of political leaders. Re-built the organization from the ground up, recruiting members, creating structures to ensure organizational sustainability, and spearheading initiatives to increase student voter engagement, gender inclusion and student advocacy.
  • Co-chaired of the College Student Commission at the City of Austin, authoring a recommendation that advocated for the creation of a city grant program to fund campus initiatives that serve food-insecure college students in Austin.

“I’ll be working in Austin for a couple years before going to graduate school for my master’s in social work, after which I hope to run for local office. I am excited to grow my skills as a mezzo/macro social worker post-graduation, working with nonprofits and legislative advocacy organizations to mobilize change!”


Being president of IGNITE SEU has been one of the most rewarding and empowering experiences I’ve had on the hilltop. It was an honor to help revive this organization and continue the fight for gender equity and political representation, while also building long-lasting friendships with amazing people.”


Our Advice for First-Year Students

From getting involved in opportunities on and off campus to getting to know your professors, our Presidential Award winners share their tips for making the most of college.