Presidential Interns

Apply to be a 2019-2020 Presidential Intern – deadline March 8 at 5pm

Presidential Internship in Higher Education Leadership Program

The University of Utah’s prestigious Presidential Internship in Higher Education Leadership, housed in the Office of the President, provides undergraduate students from diverse fields and backgrounds the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with President Ruth Watkins and other university administrators. This unique experience offers an insider’s look into the nuances and complexities of higher education. Through regular seminars and working alongside members of the administration, students learn about and engage in the challenges and opportunities facing the University, as well as American higher education in general. Students gain practical knowledge and skills that enrich their academic and social experiences, while also honing leadership skills and building a professional network. Since its inception in 1992, more than 150 students have participated in the Presidential Internship Program. For many, the experience was a catalyst to a career in higher education. Others have gone on to leadership and career opportunities in public administration, nonprofit organizations, business, civic and public service.

The Presidential Interns help to staff senior administrative offices and work on strategic projects designed to help advance the goals of the university, act as student representatives at various university functions and events, and attend weekly higher education leadership seminars hosted by executive leaders from the campus and larger community. In turn, the university administration benefits from student insight, perspective and collaboration in helping shape the exceptional educational experience at the University of Utah.

The Presidential Internship cohort selection involves an application and interview process conducted each spring. The program runs in conjunction with the academic year, August to May. It requires a commitment of 10-12 hours per week, including some evening and weekend hours assisting with events, and attending Wednesday leadership seminar meetings from 2-4pm. Two lead interns help facilitate and coordinate the presidential interns.

For more information, please email us at:

Meet the 2018-2019 Presidential Interns


Lead Intern

Sheva Mozafari (she/her/hers) is beginning her third year at the U. She is an Iranian-American who was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. Throughout high school she was a student council member, the Senior Class President, the Drug Free Idaho representative of her school, and was selected into the Boise Leadership Academy. She loves sports, she played soccer for 14 years along with basketball and running track.

Currently, she is a student in the Honors College at the U and created her own major through the Bachelor of University Studies Program. Her major is called Integrative Health Sciences and it is meant to prepare her for medical school. After medical school, Sheva wants to practice medicine in third world countries and eventually teach in higher ed. Her dream is to teach based on her knowledge and experiences within a school of medicine.

Sheva is involved on campus through the Bennion Center where she volunteers for hospice, the College of Science as an ambassador, Housing and Residential Education as an RA, and through undergraduate research. This will be her second year as a Presidential Intern as she was a part of President Pershing’s final cohort last year. Sheva feels extremely lucky and honored to have spent her first year in the program with President Pershing and now her last year in the program during President Watkins’ inaugural year. It has been quite the ride!

Before the Presidential Internship in Higher Education, Sheva thought she wanted to only be a doctor. But this program has changed her plans. She has always been passionate about education; her parents instilled the importance of it in her at a very young age. Her father immigrated across the globe to come to the United States in order to get an education. He left his family, his friends, and his home in order to be educated and if that doesn’t display how important a college degree is, she doesn’t know what does! Then, learning more about higher ed through this program, she now knows she wants to contribute to it herself later in life as a professor. She is so excited to be a part of this cohort and to help others around our school and community begin and finish their education here at the U. Most of all, Sheva is honored to be a representative of our prestigious University. Go Utah!


Lead Intern

Mitchel was born and raised in Sandy, Utah. He is currently a third-year Business Scholar student pursuing a degree in Finance. Growing up an avid fan of Utah Athletics, he always desired to attend the University of Utah. During his senior year of high school, this possibility was brought into reality. His Grandpa, a professor at the U, brought him to ‘Meet an Inventor Night’ in the Engineering School. Seeing passions and dreams of students come to life first hand opened his eyes to the endless possibilities at the U. This experience sealed the deal on his eventual enrollment at the University.

After graduating from Brighton High School, Mitchel embarked on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Italy, Milan. This opportunity further reinforced the importance of service in his community while teaching him many lessons about himself along the way. He met people from over 35 different countries and worked regularly with refugees, helping them acclimate to unfamiliar environments. Specifically, this mission shed light on the value of an international community and difference of culture. Living in Italy also opened the door to a previously unknown love of cooking.

His involvement on campus began in the First Year Council of ASUU. Throughout the year the group participated in meaningful service and was exposed to various opportunities on campus, including the Presidential Internship Program. During his first year Mitchel also volunteered at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center’s after school program, providing tutoring and social skills-building activities for refugee and immigrant kids K-12 in the area.

Mitchel has benefited greatly from his time at the U. His engagement in the David Eccles School of Business includes a Fellowship with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, mentorship to first-year Business Scholar students as an Eccles Ambassador, and employment as a Corporate Outreach Student Ambassador in the Business Career Services department. Upon graduation, Mitchel plans on continuing his education by attending Law School. He is ecstatic to work alongside President Ruth V. Watkins as she lays out her vision for the future of the University of Utah!


In 1994 Ilham Batar’s family became the first Somali refugees to settle in Utah. A devastating civil war broke out in Somalia making her parents and two older brothers flee their home country to seek refuge in the United States. Her parents came to the U.S. with hopes that their children will be able to gain an education and pursue their dreams.

Ilham graduated from the Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science (AMES) in May 2017, and began her first year at the University of Utah in the fall of 2017. During her time at AMES, Ilham was given the opportunity to take University of Utah classes during her senior year. She was able to graduate from AMES with more than 30 credits from the University of Utah. Along with being invested in her academics, Ilham was also heavily involved with extracurricular activities at AMES. In her junior year of high school, she initiated the first Black Student Union (BSU) club at her high school and became the President of the club her senior year. While being President of her school’s BSU, she was able to arrange food drives, clothing drives, and coordinate volunteer events around the valley for her peers to become involved with. Now being at the University of Utah, she is currently working as a Student Research Assistant for the Lamb Lab in the Emma Eccles Jones Medical Research Building. She also holds numerous leadership positions around campus, being a part of the Freshman Ambassador Board through the Union Programming Council, a member of ASUUs Diversity board, a member of the U’s Black Student Union club, and was an Orientation Leader for the summer of 2018 as well as a Lassonde Ambassador for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Ilham’s older brother and father are both Alumni from the University of Utah, and she hopes to continue her family legacy at the U by graduating with a degree in Biology and going on to Medical School. She hopes to fulfill her dreams of becoming a surgeon and traveling to third world countries to provide medical services to those in need.

She is very humbled to be able to serve as a Presidential Intern and looks forward to working alongside President Watkins in the upcoming year.


Ben Battistone will be serving as a Presidential Intern during his second year at the University of Utah. He is pursuing a degree in Philosophy through the Honors College in preparation for a career in medicine. A Salt Lake City native, Ben’s strong sense of place and purpose was shaped by his adventuring in the Wasatch mountains and throughout the beautiful state of Utah. He is the oldest of three siblings and loves spending time with family, friends, and playing with his dog. Ben rides road bikes with the University of Utah Club Cycling team and enjoys intramural sports with friends. To him, any time spent hiking, running, skiing, or scuba diving is worthwhile.

Ben graduated from the Waterford School in 2017. During high school, he was especially influenced by his involvement in sports, student government, and music. He ran varsity cross-country for a season and played varsity soccer through high school. A two-time soccer state champion, he served as Waterford’s team captain his senior year. Ben credits some of his most formative experiences to the time he spent with the team, where effective leadership was modeled by his coaches and former captains. Off the field, Ben is a student leader and musician. He served a year as class representative and later as a senior mentor for incoming freshmen as they began their high school transition with a week-long backpacking trip in the Wasatch mountains. A second-chair violinist for the Waterford School orchestra, he still picks up his violin whenever he gets the chance.

In 2016, Ben had the privilege of completing a summer internship in a research laboratory at the University of Utah’s School of Pharmacology and Toxicology. His primary research project involved the identification of novel antimicrobial compounds as potential therapies in the treatment of HIV and tuberculosis. Ben’s experience in the lab introduced him to the powerful and elegant potential of experimental research and the beauty of a calculated risk. Perhaps more than any other experience, this internship inspired him to pursue a career in medicine and research and showed him the value of pushing the limits of your comfort zone. With that in mind, Ben spent the summer of 2018 participating in a public health internship in Savusavu, Fiji, through the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute.

Ben is honored to join the Presidential Interns cohort and is excited about working with a phenomenal team to build values of personal leadership, well-roundedness, and interest in research among the student body. Grateful for the opportunity to continue learning from such strong role models, he looks forward to being able to build on the excellent foundation laid by prior Presidential Interns.


Andre was born in Tulancingo, Mexico, but moved and was raised in Salt Lake City at the age of six. He is currently a senior at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in Medical Laboratory Science and hopes that his academic endeavors place him into Medical School in the near future. Andre, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, hopes to utilize the internship to change the narrative for undocumented students as well as empower students from a similar background to immerse themselves at the University of Utah.

In 2015, Andre graduated from East High School with an honors diploma and as the recipient of the Derek Herendeen Memorial Award from his graduating class. While in high school, Andre was part of the Health Professions Academy, a program that not only introduced him to a variety of health professions and careers, but also gave him the opportunity to enroll in college-level courses at the University of Utah.

Andre’s arduous experience growing up as an undocumented immigrant molded him to become a hardworking and resilient individual. Nonetheless, his parents instilled in him the importance of education as an opportunity to better himself and his community. His journey navigating the educational system has served as a blessing in disguise. Learning to embrace obstacles while being resourceful and relentless in achieving his goals has transitioned him from a dreamer to a realist.

During his undergraduate studies, Andre has been involved with ASUU, the Bennion Center, U-FIT, and as the President of the MLS Professional Club. He is enthusiastic to serve as a Social Justice Advocate for Housing and Residential Education for the 2018/19 school year. Currently, Andre conducts research in Dr. Chow’s laboratory within the Department of Human Genetics at the School of Medicine and works as a technician at ARUP Laboratories. When there is time to spare, Andre enjoys painting what his “Bob Ross” heart desires while listening to groovy tunes.

Andre’s personal experiences have guided him to serve his community. He devotes his time as an advisor for SLC Peer Court, a Spanish interpreter at Maliheh Clinic, and as an English teacher to adult immigrants. Andre is grateful for the opportunity to serve as an intern in the President’s office and hopes to promote the importance of higher education to younger students.


Devon was born in Washington State, raised by a single mother alongside his two brothers. He later moved to Utah with his grandparents when he was just thirteen years old. After graduating from Pleasant Grove High School, Devon met his beautiful wife, Lauren Gethers, who he has been happily married to for two years. Devon is an avid basketball player, but when his basketball career ended shortly after high school due to an injury, he was left wondering -what’s next? A great mentor stepped into his life at the right moment and helped redirect his future plans.

Devon has balanced full-time work and school for the majority of his college career. Devon started as a customer service agent at Young Living Essential Oils, and quickly climbed the corporate ranks through his strong-willed leadership abilities. During the year 2017, Devon was privileged to live in Southeast Asia for eight total months as an International Operations Manager. He traveled frequently among Young Living’s six Asia-Pacific markets (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia) determined to revitalize their customer service departments. In this environment Devon was quickly exposed into the business setting which ultimately influenced him to change his major to Business Finance.

Devon attended Utah Valley University where he received his Associate’s degree in Sociology. He graduated with a 4.0 GPA while also serving as the Secretary for the Black Student Union. Devon has always had his eyes set on the University of Utah. Impressed with their educational quality, he wanted to challenge himself academically, so he and his wife packed up their belongings and moved from Orem to Salt Lake City to finish their educational careers at the University of Utah. Devon is a current Business Scholar at the University of Utah and a member of the Crimson Transfer Honor Society!

Devon is now in his senior year and continues to intensely prepare himself for the GMAT, and soon thereafter, determined to obtain his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.


Madelaine Lamah, originally from Guinea, West Africa, is a Sophomore at the University of Utah. After graduating from East High School with a full ride scholarship as a Larry H. and Gail Miller scholar, Madelaine served a full-time mission for the church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saint. As a missionary, she learned great leadership qualities such as problem-solving, listening, and caring. After her mission, she obtained the opportunity to apply many of these skills in leadership positions she’s held at the University. One such position was her time as an Orientation Leader where she had the privilege of being one of the first to welcome new students at the University of Utah. As an Orientation Leader, she also influenced the first experiences of new students and their parents on campus.

Madelaine is a Business major and a Theatre Minor. As a Business major, she enjoys the opportunity to be innovative in her community and among her peers. As a theatre minor, she enjoys the arts while acting on stage and film in her local community. With her Business and Theatre knowledge, she strongly believes in keeping the Humanities and Arts in a technologically growing world. She aspires to use this combination to contribute to the world.

When she’s not in school and acting, Madelaine enjoys singing, playing basketball, running, and spending time with her family.

Madelaine Lamah is also a student in the Honors College.


Michelle Ngo was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and has lived here her whole life. She is a fourth-year pre-medical student that is studying Biology and minoring in Chemistry and Pediatric Clinical Research at the University of Utah.

Vietnamese was the first language she spoke and she quickly adapted to the English language. As someone who comes from a population that has been historically underrepresented, she pushes herself to continuously seek ways to gain opportunities for success. Michelle graduated from East High School with an Honors Diploma and as a Valedictorian candidate. During her time in high school, she was selected as a Sterling Scholar, served as a student leader in multiple organizations, and was one of two students to be presented with the Principal’s Recognition Award for her graduating class.

As someone who comes from an immigrant family that had received a lot of help when they first came to the United States, she has been taught the importance of giving back to the community. Michelle is very passionate about service and community engagement. In her work with Connect2Health, a student-organized non-profit, she helps underserved patients gain access to existing community resources such as finding transportation and clothing. Along with that, she also dedicates her time to the Maliheh Free Clinic to help underrepresented families receive healthcare, as well as participate as a mentor to children with disabilities in the U-Fit program. Michelle believes that her volunteer experience has not only strengthened her personal growth but has allowed for her to recognize the value of service.

Michelle is currently involved on campus through ASUU, as a College of Science Ambassador, conducting undergraduate research, and as an Organic Chemistry Teaching Assistant. Off-campus, she is also a STEM Ambassador for the state of Utah. Connecting with various students in her student leader role has allowed her to help immerse and represent all students on campus. She hopes to apply her vast experience towards presenting opportunities for those interested in higher education and representing the University of Utah as a Presidential Intern.


Lynette Randall is a senior at the University of Utah. She is studying Social Work and Pediatric Clinical Research. Other important facts about Lynette include a rich love for having a summer birthday, the desert is her favorite biome, and she possesses a fervent yearning to realistically live off of fruit smoothies. Lynette relishes in heart to heart interactions and connecting with people.

She graduated from Clearfield High School in 2012 with an Associate Degree courtesy of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. She was admitted to the University of Utah Honor's College as a Distinguished Eccles Scholar and remains an active participant in the Honors College. Lynette’s university experience has been painted by her desire to be as involved as possible in as many things as possible. She loves a full schedule and interacting with a variety of people and interests. Social Work is actually major number five for Lynette (hence the five-year undergrad timeline, much to her parents’ chagrin).

Lynette took a two-year break from her academic schooling to live in Norway for 19 months volunteering as a missionary for the LDS church. This was particularly thrilling for Lynette as her mother grew up in Norway.

Lynette began University two whirlwind months after her mother passed away. Losing a mother introduced her to a realm of pain and grief she had never before experienced. It opened her realization to the depths of pain a soul can endure and carry on with. It deepened Lynette's love for people and strengthened her resolution that all humans deserve to be taken care of, listened to and loved-- the essence of social work. Lynette's dedication for this field emanates from the compassion and empathy she has for others. She is fiercely passionate about taking away stigma from grief and counseling and supporting the mental health of people, students especially. Lynette hopes to gain a deeper understanding and participate in making changes for our community.

Amidst her academics and volunteer work Lynette remains an active part of campus life by working for both The Daily Utah Chronicle as a weekly A&E journalist and for Campus Recreation Services for Aquatics and Outdoor Adventures where she shares her love for the outdoors with fellow students and helps facilitate safe and new recreation opportunities. During the summers Lynette runs away to the desert and works as a river rafting guide for the National Ability Center, taking people of all abilities river rafting.

Lynette is now halfway through the Social Work program, in which she feels she is finally fulfilling her education experience and relishing in the chance to combine all the aspects of holistic human care.

Upon graduation, Lynette intends on pursuing her Masters of Social Work and becoming a LCSW and working with refugees. Lynette is passionate about happiness: being happy herself and helping other people to feel happy as well.


Latifa Yaqoobi is an Afghan-American, who was raised in North Salt Lake, Utah. She is the youngest of nine children. She graduated from Bountiful High School with honors in 2016. While in high school Latifa began volunteering with the Inclusion Center, a nonprofit human relations organization dedicated to overcoming hatred, bias and exclusionary practices. She volunteered over 200+ hours of her time every single year, in her roles as a counselor, intern and advisor. While volunteering with the Inclusion Center she developed a passion for social justice and leadership.

Her interest in leadership and social activism continued as she began her undergraduate career at the University of Utah. She helped establish the Afghan Student Union her freshmen year, and was involved with the First Year Council and Elections Committee for ASUU. She continued her involvement with ASUU as an Assembly Representative for the School of Social & Cultural Transformations throughout her sophomore year.

Latifa is entering her third year at the University of Utah, and is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Communications and Ethnic Studies. She is a McNair scholar, and is beginning to conduct her own research through the help of the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program. She is thrilled, and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to serve President Watkins and the rest of the University of Utah campus.

Courtney H. McBeth, Ed.D.

Dr. Courtney H. McBeth, special assistant to the president, directs the Presidential Internship in Higher Education Leadership Program, as well as other campus-wide higher education innovation projects. Courtney is the project director for the American Dream Ideas Challenge, a community innovation challenge that seeks to improve economic mobility and strengthen Utah’s middle class. She also leads the development and implementation of the Invest in U income share agreement program, which provides additional funding for students to pay today’s tuition with tomorrow’s earnings. Courtney is an adjunct professor in the Eccles School of Business and teaches social entrepreneurship and innovation. Courtney played women’s soccer, was a presidential intern for President Bernie Machen, and received her bachelors and master’s degrees from the University of Utah. She earned a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania and her research focuses on social innovation in higher education. Courtney and her husband, Mitch, have three boys and are enthusiastic University of Utah fans.

Learn more about the Presidential Internship in
Higher Education Leadership Program