Our Class of 2020 graduates are a perfect reflection of the students you’ll get to know and the amazing experiences you’ll have at St. Edward’s. They’re smart, compassionate, innovative problem-solvers who are eager to improve the world and reach their full potential. The impressive strength and perseverance they showed during an unimagined final semester will serve them well throughout life.

Among our 2020 standouts are these 12 graduates — all Presidential Award winners — who took every opportunity at St. Edward’s to learn, grow and prepare for meaningful careers and lives. They created and led organizations and events that champion social justice and personal growth. They gained career experience through incredible internships and research. They studied abroad to challenge their comfort zone and perspectives. And they volunteered their time locally and globally to serve others.

See how these Hilltoppers lived their college experience fully — and how they’re taking on their world.

Discovering Opportunities and Passions. Purposefully.

presidentialawardwinners

Kelly Aparicio ’19, Kinesiology, Pre-Physical Therapy

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Created a platform for Latinx students voices to be heard as president of the Latino Student Leaders Organization. Led fellow officers in planning programs around traditions and current issues.
  • Gained career experience working as a physical therapy technician with Ascension Seton Hospital. Organized an online database and filing system of hundreds of exercise programs for quick and easy use by therapists and patients.
  • Became a mentor and ally to students from all walks of life as a resident assistant, and developed valuable people-skills that relate to her work with patients.
A LIFE LESSON

“During my Service Break Experience in Jamaica, I saw the difficult realities of healthcare for medically underserved populations. As I helped care for patients with a variety of disabilities, it taught me the importance of seeing a person’s ability before their disability.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“I’m excited to be pursing my Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Texas State University. All of the valuable lessons and opportunities granted to me at St. Edward’s have allowed me to fulfill the American dream of becoming the first doctor in my family.”
 

Inspiring Heroes and Aiming to Be One. Joyfully. 

kia

Kia Baeza ’20, Biology, Pre-Health Professions 

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Empowered fellow Hilltoppers to stand up for issues they believe in through AmericaIWill, a social justice student organization she co-founded and helped lead.
  • Combined her love of bees and interest in human health in a research project on how pesticides affect honeybees. Presented her findings at three academic conferences and won multiple awards.
  • Traveled to Puerto Rico during one of her two Service Break Experiences to help Americorp members rebuild houses for people affected by Hurricane Maria.
MY INSPIRATION

“When things get tough, I remember why I embarked on my college journey to begin with and my goal to become a physician. I think back to the sacrifices my family made to get me here and the future I envision for myself. That always propels me forward.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“I plan to jump into work as soon as possible as a medical assistant while I get ready to enter medical school. Things are difficult now with the pandemic, but I can’t wait until I’m able to work on the front lines helping save lives like the brave people who are out there today.”
 

Achieving Dreams and Creating New Ones. Successfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Chase Bartlett ’20, Religious and Theological Studies

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Inspired by his studies abroad in Berlin to write his honors thesis on the global resurgence of far-right extremism, which shaped his new dream to attend graduate school to pursue a career in writing and journalism.
  • Became the first student-athlete from St. Edward’s to win the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Fall Regional Singles Champion.
  • Received the Servant Leadership Award from the St. Edward’s Athletics department for his selfless encouragement and compassionate support in cultivating the full potential of others.
MY GREATEST INSIGHT

“Even if I never accomplish my dreams, what matters is who I’ve become in the process of working toward them.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“Before the pandemic, I planned to take a gap year to continue playing tennis tournaments, take a short break from school, and find a job. Eventually, I hope to pursue either an MBA or an MA in writing and rhetoric.”
 

Advocating for Social Justice. Powerfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Meagan Biscamp ’19, Social Work 

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Founded and led the St. Edward’s chapter of IGNITE, a national organization that helps young women become politically and civically engaged and advocate for social justice issues.
  • Helped lead and re-energize the Social Work Student Organization. Increased membership and student participation in activities organized by the group.
  • Created a policy brief for a bill to benefit the Austin Sobering Center (a safe place for publicly intoxicated individuals to sober up and initiate recovery) and testified before the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. The bill was passed.
MY PERSONAL GROWTH

“The relationships I developed and the practical experience and knowledge I gained during my time at St. Edward’s helped me become a more socially aware and active citizen, and more confident in my ability as a leader, organizer, researcher and advocate.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“I’ve continued my full-time job as a project administrator, and I am still working at the Sobering Center part-time, which was my field placement while I was at St. Ed’s. This fall, I’ll be attending the University of Michigan Graduate School of Social Work in the Policy & Political Social Work Pathway.”
 

Becoming a Passionate Servant Leader. Thoughtfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Karlee Bradley ’20, Mathematics  

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Received the Campus Ministry Servant Leadership Award for her extensive volunteer work through S.E.R.V.E. Austin and three Spring Break Experiences in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Collaborated with her math professor over four semesters researching permutations, giving presentations on her findings, and developing a final academic paper for publication.
  • Completed an 8-week internship as a Data Visualization intern with the NSF National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). Afterward, NEON offered her a 1-year contract to work remotely on Shiny app projects.
MY FAVORITE MENTORS

Liza Manjarrez [associate director of Campus Ministry] helped me really grow as a leader and be more confident in myself. And Dr. Mitch Phillipson [assistant professor of Mathematics] has continually pushed me to do my best and provided help whenever I've asked for it. I would not be the same person I am today without their mentorship.” 

WHAT’S NEXT

“I fell in love with André House in Phoenix, Arizona, when I led a Spring Break Experience there. I just knew I wanted to go back and spend a year as a part of the core staff serving the city’s homeless population. Right now, this plan is still in place, and I’m super exited to begin in July!”
 

Redefining Her Comfort Zone. Skillfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Lauren Fogt ’19, Kinesiology, Pre-Physical Therapy

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Grew as a leader serving as president of the Physical Therapy Organization, chair of social media and events for the club soccer team, and as a team collaborator with The BIG Event service project.
  • Strengthened her ability to connect and interact with patients by shadowing experienced physical therapists as a volunteer with Austin clinics and hospitals.
  • Took on her world while studying abroad in Madrid. Established new friendships, joined the club soccer team and a yoga group, became an English tutor, and enhanced her Spanish.
MY MOST MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE

“Studying abroad redefined my limits of my comfort zone, and this change traveled with me back home. Returning to the hilltop brought clarity, as I knew the relationships that overcame the distance would be the ones that would last for the rest of my life.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“Until recently, I was a soccer coach with a nonprofit and a physical therapy technician at Texas Physical Therapy Specialists in Austin. I’ll begin my Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Woman’s University in Fall 2020. In addition, I’m working toward my Power Vinyasa Yoga certification.”
 

Growing through Leadership, Scholarship and Service. Insightfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Emily Herman ’19, Psychology

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Discovered the power of her voice and the value of her ideas as a participant in the Leadershape Institute retreat.
  • Immersed herself in service and leadership through S.E.R.V.E. Austin, the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, The BIG Event day of service, and Service Break Experiences to El Paso and Jamaica.
  • Supported fellow students in their academic pursuits as a teaching intern and assistant in classes for Freshman Studies, Statistics, English, and Rhetoric and Composition.
LIFE LESSONS

“From my mentors, I learned how to speak up for what I believe in. From engaging in service, I learned that it is important to understand others before you can understand yourself. From scholastic opportunity, I learned that there is nothing better than hard work paying off.”  

WHAT’S NEXT

“I’m preparing to apply to a dual graduate program that combines the study of law and psychology. Currently, I’m working for a law firm to foster some early legal skills, while also interning with a professional counselor’s clinic to learn the ropes of private practice.”
 

Making a Difference by Listening. Mindfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Alejandro Izaguirre ’20, Political Science 

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Uplifted the narratives of undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients as president of the League of United Latin American Citizens chapter at St. Edward’s.
  • Experienced the inner workings of city, state and federal governments as an intern for the Austin mayor’s office, a Texas state representative, and a U.S. congresswoman.
  • Enhanced his knowledge of education policy, advocacy and policy analysis as the Policy Research Fellow for Raise Your Hand Texas.
MY GREATEST INSIGHT

“My lived experiences have taught me that it’s important to be a good listener. The people closest to the pain best inform and shape the policies that impact them. Advocacy must reflect the people who experience inequities and that requires validating the stories they share.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“I plan to pursue teaching positions in Houston to inform my advocacy and guide my career in education policy. In the future, I hope to earn a dual degree in law and public policy to challenge excessive disciplinary language in state educational policies and prevent the criminalization of minority students.”
 

Building Confidence and Connections. Resourcefully.

presidentialawardwinners

Alycia Martinez ’20, International Business and Finance

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Organized events, a fundraiser and community service activities as a member and officer of the St. Edward’s chapter of Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity.
  • Provided awareness and education for standing up against sexual assault on college campuses as a leader with the It’s On Us student organization. 
  • Helped new students at Summer Orientation connect to their hilltop home — and their classmates — by leading discussions and fun events, including an “escape room” activity.
A LIFE LESSON

“Being very involved and active on campus taught me that saying ‘no’ is not selfish, but a necessity for selfcare. Acknowledging my limits and setting boundaries allowed me to give more of myself as a Service Break Experience leader, create a better community for my residents and enjoy fun times with my friends.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“I secured an internship with Aesthetic Medical Educators Training in Austin during my junior year. It led to a part-time job that I still have today. I am currently applying to jobs in the Austin area. Once I gain more experience in the business world, I plan to pursue a master’s degree.”
 

Cultivating a Servant Heart and Mind. Faithfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Ashley Nassy ’20, Accounting and Finance

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Sharpened her data analytics and presentation skills as an intern with WP Engine in Austin and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Planning at St. Edward’s.
  • Joined her Hilltopper Softball team in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, Hurricane Harvey relief, softball camps for kids and more — and participated in a Service Break Experience trip. Received the St. Edward’s Servant Leader Award.
  • Discovered her leadership talent as a member and officer in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Accounting Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
A LIFE LESSON

 “I’m learning to find a balance between planning for the future and living in the present. Being a hard worker has gotten me pretty far, but the lesson to live in the moment, think positive and serve the community in front of me has helped me grow as a person and set up my career path.” 

WHAT’S NEXT

“I plan to attend the University of Mississippi in the fall as a part of the KPMG Master in Accounting with Data and Analytics Program, and afterward, start full-time at KPMG Houston in the Audit practice. I am excited to learn more, expand my network and work to be a leader in the audit profession in the data age.”
 

Living Holy Cross Values. Zealfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Ana Regalado ’19, Teacher Education – Spanish, Language Arts, Reading

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Rolled out the red carpet for new Hilltoppers as a campus tour guide and a leader with Student Orientation and the Freshman Escape retreat.
  • Created fun events, helpful life-skills programs and an inclusive environment for students to call home as an award-winning resident assistant.
  • Served marginalized communities compassionately during five Service Break Experiences in the U.S. and abroad, and through S.E.R.V.E. Austin programs. Received the Campus Ministry Excellence Award in Social Justice for being a passionate learner and leader in serving others.
MY PERSONAL GROWTH

"During my time on the hilltop, I learned how to live by the four pillars that guided my Service Break Experiences: live simply, do justice, engage spiritually and build community. I continue to honor these pillars in my daily life.” 

WHAT’S NEXT

After graduating, I returned to my middle school to serve as a teaching assistant. This fall, I plan to be in my own classroom teaching at the elementary level. Eventually, I want to earn a master’s degree in Education focused on school administration.
 

Supporting Diversity and Equity. Masterfully.

presidentialawardwinners

Leslie Rios ’20, Political Science

ON THE HILLTOP
  • Created and led First-Generation Student programming for incoming students, connecting them to a community of people and resources to help them be successful at St. Edward’s. 
  • Served as president of the Student Government Association. Played a vital role in the implementation of the Hilltopper Emergency Aid Program to help students facing unforeseeable difficulties.
  • Presented her a summer research project titled “Rhetoric Under President Trump: Citizenship as a Zero-Sum Game and Tragedy of the Commons” at the annual McNair Scholars Research Conference.
MY PERSONAL GROWTH

“Some of my most valuable lessons have come from moments when I’ve been challenged to be vulnerable. St. Edward’s gave me the ability to fail, learn and grow from the people around me. These experiences helped me understand myself and become closer to mentors and friends who pushed me to become the person I am today.”

WHAT’S NEXT

“I’ve been accepted into the Emerson National Hunger Fellowship Program at the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington, D.C. I’m excited and looking forward to gaining hands-on experience in my field and understanding how community-based organizations can play a role in national public policy.”
 

Kia Baeza, Biology major

Why I Love Being a Hilltopper!

What’s the best part of being a student at St. Edward’s? Biology major and Presidential Award winner Kia Baeza ’20 shares her view on what you can look forward to, plus a few inside tips for making the most of college.