Among the more than 50,000 students on campus, certain individuals emerge as leaders, making a lasting impression on their peers and the university. This year's Texas Parents Outstanding Student Awards showcase two such students: seniors Alexandra Arambula and Clark Plost.
With their impressive academic records, selfless service, strong leadership and impeccable character, Arambula and Plost personify the university's motto, "What Starts Here Changes the World." They were honored Nov. 1 at the 62nd annual Celebration of Leadership Dinner, hosted by Texas Parents, part of the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of the President.
Alex Arambula: Researcher and Mentor
Arambula is completing her final year in biomedical engineering and Plan II with a pre-med concentration. Always interested in a medical profession, she became intrigued by research after attending a high school engineering summer camp at UT Austin.
"When I graduated high school, my classmates basically said I should go out and cure cancer," she said in a video shown at the awards ceremony. "Coming into UT I was really excited about that." She joined Professor George Georgiou's lab at UT Austin and has worked with a therapeutic enzyme that can treat some forms of methionine-dependent cancers.
Another of her passions is guiding others. "I was a FIG mentor for three years and I have been a senior preceptor for the PLUS (Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying) Program," she added. "Mentors have been a really important part of my life, so any way that I can give back to others that way is something that I love to do."
Arambula, who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, also worked with a local hospice and Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents are affected by cancer. She says those experiences have been pivotal in her life and she ultimately hopes to integrate technical and humanistic medicine in the field of clinical research. "I think combining my passion for research with my passion for relationships as a physician is somewhere that I would like to see myself," she said.
Arambula's also a Normandy Scholar and involved in the Plan II Pre-Medical Society, LeaderShape-Texas, Tau Beta Pi and the Engineering Chamber Orchestra where she plays piano.
Clark Plost: A Calling to Service
Plost is a management information systems and pre-dental student who admits he had a challenging freshman year as he struggled to find his place. Then his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and Plost took a leave of absence for a full academic year to serve as one of his father's primary caregivers. He returned to UT Austin with a renewed since of resilience, commitment and passion, noting "I found my niche with the Texas Wranglers."
As the student organization's president, he served as a Board Member of Easter Seals of Central Texas and led a project that brought more than 1,000 underserved Austin kids to university men's basketball games. Clark currently serves as the president of Texas Round Table, an officer in Students for Texas Athletics and the chairman for the Fourth Annual Texas Wranglers Horns Helping Horns Golf Classic. The tournament has raised more than $60,000 for the program in the past three years.
"Here at Texas, the biggest way I'm able to say thank you to everyone here is to give back," Plost said in his video. "I can give, give, give and never be able to give back everything Texas has given me." After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in dentistry, with an eye toward continuing his service of others.
"My dream is to have two offices, one in the city and one in a rural area where I could go every so often and provide care for people who are unable to access good dental care," he said.