The University of Utah’s Presidential Internship in Higher Education Leadership, housed by 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 3-5 p.m. Two lead interns help facilitate and coordinate the presidential interns.
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MEET THE 2023-2024 PRESIDENTIAL INTERNS
Momina Sial, Lead Intern
Momina is a senior studying Honors Finance. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan and grew up in Sandy, Utah. Momina is interested in advocacy work, having volunteered at the 4th Street Clinic and having been a part of the first cohort of SafeU Ambassadors in the University Safety Department. Momina has also completed internships at Goldman Sachs and UBS. She is passionate about equal opportunity in higher education and hopes to help create an inclusive and supportive environment for all students. In her free time, Momina enjoys reading, baking, and going to Costco with her dad. Momina is excited and grateful to serve as a co-lead for this year’s cohort as she learns more about making higher education accessible for all.
Muskan Walia, Lead Intern
Muskan is a fourth-year student studying Math and Philosophy. She was raised in Utah, growing up in a Punjabi-American home. Her experiences have cultivated a passion and commitment to community building and education. She is elated and grateful to serve as a co-lead Presidential Intern and further develop her understanding of higher education institutions and support this year’s cohort. Specifically, Muskan is eager to study the role of higher education in society. She is interested in empowering and advocating for students with marginalized identities and pursuing projects that are rooted in community needs. Muskan also cherishes time spent bird watching, gardening, making pottery, and exploring Trader Joe’s.
Dua is a senior studying Physics with a minor in Mathematics. She was born and raised in Salt Lake City. With her involvement in the College of Science as an ambassador, she became interested in higher education administration, especially in the education gaps that form for underrepresented students. Dua is excited to serve as a Presidential Intern and hopes to help promote a more inclusive and communicative environment for students. Her other involvements on campus include conducting research in Dr. Sophie Caron's neuroscience lab, leading the Pakistan Student Association, and making student films in the Film Production Club. After graduation, Dua plans to pursue a career in academia and research, while continuing advocating for and improving accessible education.
Alicia is a senior studying Quantitative Analysis of Markets & Organizations, with an emphasis in Operations and Supply Chain. She is originally from Syracuse, Utah and has loved being able to live in Salt Lake City for school. Alicia is passionate about the student experience on campus, and has made it a priority to not only reflect that in her own life but also share it with others. Alicia has been involved in a number of offices and organizations on campus but has found her work mentoring first year students to be the most fulfilling. Alicia’s passion for students combined with her technical educational background has made her eager to explore the intricacies of decision making and problem solving within the context of higher education. In her free time, Alicia enjoys training for upcoming marathons and second hand shopping.
Alejandro Camacho is a driven mining engineering student with a strong desire to learn and grow. Hailing from Sonora, Mexico, he has embarked on an exciting academic journey at the University of Utah. Alongside his major, Alejandro wears multiple hats – he is honored to be a Presidential Intern, an SME officer in the mining engineering department, and a dedicated member of the Honors College. He has also been fortunate to be part of the Second Year Experience Program and a Life After College Program scholar. This internship is a perfect opportunity for Alejandro to apply his knowledge, skills, and diverse experiences to real-world challenges.
Arza, a fifth-year transfer student from Brigham Young University to the University of Utah, studies Economics, Political Science, and International Studies. From West Jordan, Utah, he's brought his passion for community to campus life. At the University of Utah, he has been actively engaged with the Center for Campus Wellness, the Hinckley Institute, and the Learning Abroad Office. In his downtime, he enjoys baking, learning languages, and meeting new people. Arza's ambitions extend to the realm of international diplomacy, with a vision to amplify the voices of marginalized communities globally. Through a Presidential Internship, he hopes to better understand how to enhance accessibility and inclusivity in higher education.
Humzah is a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Information Systems. He was born and raised in South Jordan, Utah, and has always had his mind set on attending the University of Utah. During his time at the University of Utah, Humzah has served on the First-Year Ambassador Board for the Union Programming Council, as well as helped grow and develop a start-up out of Lassonde Studios. Humzah strongly believes in connecting with the community, and as a presidential intern, he wants to be involved with President Randall's mission to engage communities to improve health and the quality of life. At the same time, Humzah is eager to learn how the University functions as more than just an institution for learning. In his free time, Humzah loves to play golf, spend time outdoors, and create memories with friends and family.
Degoal is a senior majoring in Information Systems. He was born and raised in Salt Lake to two refugee parents from South Sudan. With his family's refugee background, Degoal has an interest in higher education accessibility for people who come from backgrounds that are typically marginalized and equipping these individuals with the tools they need to succeed in pursuit of a higher education degree. His involvements during his time at the University of Utah include First Ascent scholars program, First Year Council, Black Student Union, UCareer success intern, and co-founding Black in Business. In his free time Degoal is an avid music enthusiast and collects vinyl records, explores and learns about emerging technologies, and has an interest in researching and staying up to date in African continental politics.
Mia Tadesse, a first-generation college student at the University of Utah, is pursuing dual degrees in Management and Business Administration. With Ethiopian roots and a Utah native, Mia is dedicated to representing underrepresented students. Her dedication to a more inclusive and equitable community is shown through her work as an Equity and Special Projects intern at the Salt Lake City Mayor's office and Business Development intern for Granite Education Foundation. She is excited and grateful for the opportunity to deepen her understanding of higher education institutions.Through this internship she aims to empower marginalized student identities, making a positive impact on both her university and the community to further and foster a sense of inclusivity for all. As a Goff Scholar, Mia is actively developing strategic leadership skills through real-world challenges. In her free time, Mia enjoys leisure travel, trying new foods, and jamming to her spotify playlist.
Brendan is from Sandy, Utah. He is a junior double majoring in operations and supply chain and information systems. Currently, he is involved in ASUU as the Deputy Chief of Staff and a part of the Student Alumni Board where he supports university traditions. In the David Eccles School of Business, he is involved in the Business Student Government as the Director of Civic Engagement, Diversity Ambassador in the Office for Student Inclusion, and a First Ascent Scholar. Something Brendan hopes to get out of this internship is to broaden his knowledge about higher education and leadership and be able to use the knowledge and skills to educate others about higher education and advocate for marginalized groups.