Two engineering students win UT President’s Leadership Award

Jahnavi Muppaneni

Two of the six annual President’s Leadership Awards were given to students from the Cockrell School of Engineering.

The two students — Jade Jackson, a chemical engineering and chemistry senior, and electrical engineering senior Garrett Maples — received the award for their leadership skills and commitment to extracurricular activities, the University announced last month.

Students are nominated annually by UT faculty and staff and later interviewed by a panel of Texas Exes members and past student leaders. Nominees were asked about their involvement on the 40 Acres.

“I feel like I talk about how much I love UT a lot anyways, so this wasn’t too much trouble,” Maples said.

Jackson said leaders must make the progress and success of people around them a priority.

“Of course, we all want to be remembered for the positive things we’ve done, but the most lasting impact you can make is on individual people,” Jackson said.

Jackson served as UT’s chapter president for the National Society of Black Engineers and director of operations for Black Women in Science and Engineering. She said her inspiration to
advocate for black women in STEM came from her own experiences.

“Black women in STEM don’t experience all of the same experiences as other women or black men in these fields,” Jackson said.

Maples said defining leadership is easy, but turning the definition into reality is the
hard part.

“Showing up to a service event five minutes early with a smile on your face … can do wonders to motivate others,” Maples said.

Maples has played on the drumline for the Longhorn Band since his freshman year and joined Texas Blazers in the spring of 2015 to give back to the community.

Maples helped raise $15,000 in scholarships for future longhorns from Eastside Memorial High School through his role as vice chair of fundraising for Blazers.

“All of the work, the grinding for months, would help countless students attend UT … maybe they would join Blazers,” Maples said.

Chemical engineering junior Prasanna Tamminayana said two engineering students earning the award shows that engineering students care about developing relationships and improving student experiences despite their focus on a more technical degree.

“Although our education may not focus on leadership, the soft skills you gain from spending late nights working on problem sets … and team senior design projects give engineers an edge in developing their leadership skills,” Tamminayana said.