Presidential Interns

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 the president 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 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 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 cohort selection process involves an application and interview 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 2-4 p.m. Two lead interns help facilitate and coordinate the presidential interns.

For more information, please email us at: presidential-interns@utah.edu.

MEET THE 2021-2022 PRESIDENTIAL INTERNS

Sabah Sial

Sabah is a senior studying Honors Finance and is excited for the opportunity to co-lead the cohort. Sabah was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and grew up in Sandy, Utah. She has experience working in finance and in public policy, having completed internships at the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Goldman Sachs, Erin Mendenhall’s campaign for Salt Lake City mayor and the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office for New Americans. At the U, Sabah is involved in the Honors College and serves as the chief justice of the Supreme Court for ASUU. Upon graduation, she plans to attend law school and work in business law and financial crime prevention. In her free time, Sabah enjoys reading new books, hiking the trails around Salt Lake, attempting to cook Pakistani food and running. She is grateful to serve as a presidential intern and broaden her knowledge of higher education and the workings of the university.


Preston Hadley

Preston is excited to co-lead the cohort and create relationships between student leaders and administrators. He has nine siblings and has lived all over Davis and Weber counties and on Hill Air Force Base. He is studying quantitative analysis of markets and organizations, developing his interests in the economics of health care. As a Presidential Intern, Preston is dedicated to minimizing mental health stigmas and creating opportunities for marginalized students. Preston previously worked as a behavior technician and volunteered at the Zelikowsky Lab studying neurobiology. Last summer, he completed research in the Calipari Lab and interned with the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University. His goals after graduation included attending medical school and developing innovative programs for those with disabilities while leveraging the strengths of neurodiverse individuals. In his free time, he enjoys basketball, football and listening to country music (especially Taylor Swift). A campus food connoisseur, Preston loves a Lassonde chicken basket paired with a cold Dr. Pepper during late-night study sessions.


Brianna Skaggs

Brianna is a fourth year double major studying modern dance and family, community, and human development, with a certificate in social justice sdvocacy. Brianna grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her mom, younger brother and a menagerie of pets. In her second and third year at the U, Brianna was a Solutions Scholar where she collaborated with peers on solutions to life's challenges. Through this program, she completed an independent research project presented at CSBS Research Day, plus a life-changing internship with Make-A-Wish Utah. Outside of academics, Brianna fosters her love for dance and the arts as a competitive dance teacher at a local dance studio. Following graduation, Brianna plans to pursue a career in dance before transitioning to nonprofit advocacy work. Brianna is looking forward to serving her campus community as an intern for the Office of the President.


Nichols Taylor

Nichols is working towards a double major in computer engineering and applied math, as a Grand Challenge Scholar. He's from Orem, Utah, and serves as a social justice advocate at the U. Nichols is passionate about communities and is excited to serve in all that he's a part of. Nichols has been involved in research at the Laboratory for NanoIntegrated Systems working on the LSOracle project. After graduation, he'd like to attend graduate school and work on technology that will improve lives. Nichols is particularly interested in combining artificial intelligence and robotics (safely). To relax, he enjoys skiing, hiking, gardening, art and building things. He's incredibly grateful to be a part of this year's cohort. He would like to improve communication with students, advocate for marginalized communities and would like to implement more project-based and experiential learning.


Jaina Lee

Jaina is a senior studying anthropology and health, society and policy. She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is passionate about the health disparities that are present in her hometown. While her passions are in health, Jaina has also been drawn to the systemic barriers that are present in higher academia. She is particularly interested in creating a more equitable future for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), incarcerated individuals and other marginalized students. She believes education is the way to empower those who hold marginalized identities. She has been involved in other campus organizations such as the Council on Student Access and the Bennion Center to address the systemic issues of education and health. She hopes to continue her work by pursuing a public health master's degree in South Korea and then return to the U.S. to become a provider of primary health care one day. In her free time, Jaina loves trying new foods and picking up new hobbies she ultimately will end up dropping!

 


Joe Nelson

Joe is a senior majoring in finance and minoring in political science. Originally from Reno, Nevada, Joe has been involved on campus in a variety of ways. Joe is currently the executive director of the Union Programming Council and has previously been involved with the University Ambassadors Program, serving as the vice president of marketing; the Student Investment Fund, a $1 million student-run portfolio; the Business Scholars Program, working as an Eccles Ambassador; and has interned with Iridium, a legal tech company. After graduation, Joe hopes to move to New York to work in product management before attending law school with hopes to work for a tech company in corporate law. Joe loves skiing, Utah athletics, critiquing the quality of various user interfaces online and is an active member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. Joe is excited to expand his knowledge of higher education within this program.

 


Sanila Math

Sanila is a fourth-year student pursuing a degree in anthropology with minors in integrative human biology and ethnic studies. Her childhood was split between California and Utah, where she has lived for the past 11 years. A passion for healing and improving health care access and quality for communities of color has led her to pursue a career in medicine, but she is also interested in sustainability initiatives and humanitarian efforts. At the U, Sanila holds student leader positions in ASUU and Housing & Residential Education, and she has interned for the University of Utah Prison Education Project. In her free time, she enjoys painting, baking and attempting to cook. She is excited to have the opportunity to work towards advancing higher education for all students.


Jens Nilson

Jens is currently a senior, pursuing an Honors degree in health, society and policy, with minors in Korean studies and chemistry. While originally from Providence, Utah, he has enjoyed his time here in Salt Lake City and appreciates the abundance of food options found in the city. During his time at the U, Jens has become aware of issues regarding accessibility and inclusion in higher education and health care and hopes to work with students and faculty to make the University of Utah an equitable, inclusive place where everyone can succeed. After graduation, he hopes to continue his education in medical school and become a practicing physician. When not studying, Jens enjoys playing tennis, skiing, reading fantasy novels and honing his novice cooking skills.


Nahum Tadesse

Nahum is a first-generation college student and a junior double majoring in political science and international studies. Although he was born in Utah and grew up in Davis County, his parents are originally from Ethiopia, which has led him to be a leader and advocate within the Ethiopian community here. During his time at the University of Utah, Nahum has completed three governmental internships, including an internship with former Governor Gary R. Herbert the summer before his sophomore year. He is involved in working with Housing & Residential Education as a resident advisor at Lassonde Studios. In his free time, Nahum enjoys being outdoors, going out with his friends and his seven younger siblings, finding new music and doing anything that is spontaneous and random. Nahum is excited and grateful to be a part of this year’s cohort and is ready to serve and learn more about the intricacies of higher education by serving as an intern for the Office of the President.


Luis Ramirez

Luis (he/him/his) is a junior pursuing an Honor bachelor of science degree in accounting and information systems, with a Lassonde + X certificate at the David Eccles School of Business. He was born in Mission Viejo, California, with Mexican and Salvadoran immigrant parents, but grew up in West Valley City, Utah, after his family moved to the state when he was 7-years old. During his time at the University of Utah, he has been involved as a First Ascent Scholar, Business Scholar, Orientation Leader and Eccles Ambassador. In the summer of 2020, he also started—and now runs—a small subcontractor construction company. After graduation, he plans to either join the Space Force, attend law school or launch a tech startup. As a first-generation college student, Luis values education and hopes to help his University of Utah community in his role as a presidential intern.

 

Learn more about the Presidential Internship in
Higher Education Leadership Program