2022 – 2023 Presidential Leadership Fellows
West Point, UT
Political Science Major with a Minors In Communication
Alex's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I’m Alex Yoder and I am a senior in Weber State University’s Political Science Program. I’m focusing on American government and communications while serving as the President of the Presidential Leadership Fellows (PLF).
What is your Weber Story? My dad is a professor at WSU and I was slightly terrified to enroll for fear that I would be in his class. However, with the low cost of tuition and an abundance of financial aid, Weber has provided me with the worry-free opportunity to pursue my bachelor’s degree.
My passion for politics started at a young age thanks to my grandpa who showed me the political drama, The West Wing. My positive experience in a general education political science course at WSU solidified that passion. A professor noticed my enthusiasm and encouraged me to sign up for an internship with the Utah State Legislature for the 2021 General Legislative Session. I will be forever grateful for the experience because it showed me that I could make a career of public service.
Now, I’m an intern with Hope Corps at the Weber Prosperity Center of Excellence. This local government agency focuses on countless initiatives designed to lift up communities and inspire positive change from within.
What are your future goals? After I graduate in the spring of 2023, I plan to pursue a Master’s of Public Administration (MPA). I endeavor to work in local government or a non-profit agency in Ogden because I want to help make this city the best place to live in Utah.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Take a deep breath, buckle up and jump right into this awesome community. If there is any community that will make you feel like you belong, it is Weber.
History, Minor: MBA Prerequisite
Austin's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Austin Petersen and I’m a senior at Weber State University. I am majoring in history while focusing on the required prerequisites for a Master of Business Administration.
What is your Weber Story? My college experience started at Utah Valley University and although I really enjoyed my time there, I struggled academically due to health issues. As a result, my cumulative GPA dropped to 1.2 and UVU put me on academic probation. I struggled, eventually cracked under the pressure and was suspended.
I spent the next two years traveling while I focused on my mental health and confidence. I came back to continue my education and thanks to WSU’s open enrollment policy, this intention became a reality. I was required to meet with an academic advisor to discuss my plans and when I apologized for having such a low GPA, the advisor simply said, “Do not apologize. Just because you did poorly in the past does not mean that you can’t succeed now. You got this!” She had no idea how badly I needed to hear that. I needed someone to believe in me and tell me that I could do it.
I got involved at the Weber State Outdoor Program where I found a community that accepted me. I have successfully raised my cumulative GPA to over a 3.0 and received my first scholarship for academic prowess. I truly believe my success is owed to the outdoors community and to my self-confidence empowered by the support of the university. WSU was willing to give me a second chance and for this, I am extremely grateful.
What are your future goals? I hope to run my own business one day. Additionally, I want to share my love of the outdoors with my two young sons and impart all I learned from my time in the WSU Outdoor Program.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Weber State cares about its students, and if you take the initiative, there are so many people who will help you succeed. Get involved and work hard.
Brooklyn's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Brooklyn Matthews. I am a junior at Weber State University and I’m majoring in microbiology.
What is your Weber Story? My involvement at Weber State started in high school through Concurrent Enrollment and I loved it. The courses introduced me to the world of microbiology and I couldn’t get enough. My time at Weber has transformed me as a person and allowed me to make new friends and explore career opportunities. As I pursue the skills needed to be an excellent microbiologist, I’ve also learned how to be a good student, friend and leader.
What are your future goals? I look forward to pursuing graduate school. I plan on going into drug research to explore nonaddictive pain relief options to help those with chronic pain.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? My love for Weber State began when I interacted with the great staff and engaging curriculum. You’ll find your place through exploring different departments and classes. I would’ve never discovered my passion for microbiology if I hadn’t tried new things.
Social Media Manager
Business Administration, Double Minor in Entrepreneurship and Professional Spanish
Rose's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I’m Rose Rojo and I am a junior at Weber State majoring in marketing and minoring in entrepreneurship.
What is your Weber Story? I grew up with a single immigrant mom whose highest level of education was junior high, and so education was not a priority. While I enjoyed learning and cared about my grades, I didn’t start planning for my future until my senior year of high school. Thanks to a counseling session, I learned about the scholarships that would enable my enrollment at WSU. While I was initially nervous about college, I decided I wanted to create a better future for my family. Faculty and staff took me in and helped me figure out how college worked. Since the beginning, I’ve been very fortunate to receive a high-quality education.
I am now a First Year Experience peer mentor where I’m able to help guide the students who share a similar background. Additionally, I am the business senator for the Goddard School of Business & Economics, an entrepreneur ambassador and a Presidential Leadership Fellow! These are all experiences that may have been impossible without the plentiful opportunities at Weber.
What are your future goals? I aim to own my own company or work in marketing at a big agency. I know in my heart Weber has, and will, continue to help me design my future. The Weber community has helped me and I want to give back and help others.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? If you want it, you have to go get it! The only person in your way is you. Fearlessly asking questions has gotten me this far, and I know if you let go of fear, there is no limit to what you can learn.
Historian / Photographer
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Psychology and Neuroscience
Rochely's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Rochely Negron, and I am from Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. My hobbies are climbing, hiking and traveling to national and state Parks. I am a senior at Weber State where I’m majoring in psychology and minoring in neuroscience. I am the vice president of the Neuroscience Club and a research assistant at the C.A.P.E.S. Neuroscience Lab where I’m conducting my own undergraduate thesis on mindfulness.
What is your Weber Story? When I started at WSU, I didn’t have a plan. As a first-generation student, I had no idea what I was getting myself into as I did all of the “college stuff” alone. I knew I wanted to study science, but I was discouraged due to a lack of awareness regarding any scientists who are women of color. Then I met my mentor, professor Aminda O’Hare, who encouraged me to join her neuroscience lab. Through her guidance, I’ve gained confidence in myself and my future as a woman of color in science. I’m able to conduct research and travel to conferences to present and network with experts in my field. I hope to inspire other women-of-color scientists and communicate to them that we do have a seat at the academic table and are capable of making our mark in STEM.
What are your future goals? After graduation in 2023, I will apply to doctoral programs and work toward my goal of becoming a neuropsychologist. I plan to continue studying mindfulness meditation and its ability to improve mental health.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? WSU’s smaller class sizes allow you more one-on-one time with your teachers. Become friends with your teachers and advisors because they really want to see their students succeed and are usually down to discuss your future plans.
Ewa Beach, HI
Reece's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. Hey friends!! My name is Reece Richardson and I’m from O’ahu, Hawai’i. I’m finishing up a degree in radiologic sciences, which will enable me to work as a radiation therapist.
What is your Weber Story? The transition from Hawai’i to Utah was challenging as it forced me to leave behind all that I knew and everyone I loved. Everyone suggested that I was crazy for leaving the Hawaiian paradise, however WSU made the struggle worthwhile and I am grateful for the experience.
Due to our positive reputation and recognition, people from across the globe enroll in Weber State’s healthcare programs. WSU faculty and staff support and believe in me which helps me to grow in my field, in my academic career and as a person. Additionally, the tuition and financial aid that I continuously receive has helped me achieve my academic goals. Lastly, the exposure to unlimited opportunities is incredibly helpful and exciting. Many doors are now open to me and I can’t wait to see where my journey takes me!
What are your future goals? Once I finish up my x-ray degree, I will apply to the Radiation Therapy Program and then graduate in the summer of 2024. I’m planning to eventually go back to Hawai’i, but Utah has grown on me so I might stick around for awhile.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Everyone says this one, but get involved! You’ll meet amazing people who have much to offer. Take advantage of the resources and activities at Weber, make new friends and be willing to have new experiences. Weber is here to help but at the end of the day, it all comes down to you and your attitude.
Artem's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Artem Koval and I’m a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Computer Science with a minor in mathematics. In addition to being a Presidential Leadership Fellow, I am a lead tutor of computer science and mathematics on campus.
What is your Weber Story? I was born in Ukraine and my family immigrated to the United States when I was 16 years old. My future was unclear as I developed my English skills and adapted to American high school. As new immigrants, my family and I were operating under the assumption that college was an unrealistic dream due to the expense. However, when I found out about Weber State University and its generous financial aid opportunities, I took matters into my own hands and started WSU after graduation having already earned a handful of credits. Weber State gave me a chance and I am using it to follow my passion for computer science.
What are your future goals? In the spring of 2023, I will graduate with departmental honors, proving that anything is possible for anyone. I look forward to working in the areas of environment or space. Eventually, I plan to come back to higher education to earn a Master of Computer Science.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? College can look intimidating and can seem expensive, hard and impossible. However, it does not have to be this way. Weber State provides all the support you need and a diverse community of relatable students.
Medical Laboratory Science (BS), Chemistry (AAS)
Sydney's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I’m Sydney Boyer. I am a senior at Weber State University and I’m getting a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory science. During my four-year college experience, I’ve been a student manager for the men’s basketball program and a member of the Medical Laboratory Sciences Club where I was a student leader for two years.
What is your Weber Story? As a freshman in high school, I knew that I wanted to major in medical lab science, but I wasn’t in love with any university that offered that program. When my senior year rolled around, I looked at multiple universities by investigating their degrees, location, cost and size. When all of my specific preferences were accounted for, WSU was the first university to pop up. My dad and I flew out from Idaho, spent the night in the dorms, had a campus tour and it was love at first sight.
Weber State has allowed me to connect and share my passions with peers who also care deeply about our education in the healthcare field. Additionally, I led an undergraduate research project and was interviewed by the Ogden Medical Surgical Society’s podcast team to discuss that research.
What are your future goals? I will be a medical lab scientist in a clinical setting, and will earn a master’s degree in health administration. I would also like to become a travel lab tech so I can live and work around the globe.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Use the services available to students. Meet with advisors, mentors and professors; check out the counseling, career and tutoring services; apply for scholarships and financial aid. Weber has so many people dedicated to helping you become your most successful self. Be active and involved in clubs, organizations or activities on campus. Show up to events and sporting games to maximize your college experience.
B.I.S in Political Science, Geography, and International Studies
Konstantinos's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I am a senior at Weber State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies with a focus on political science, international studies and geography. I also work as a student mentor on campus. In my spare time, I enjoy basketball, reading and watching YouTube.
What is your Weber Story I transferred to WSU from Salt Lake Community College, due to Weber’s interesting reputation and competitive tuition. I instantly felt comfortable on a campus tour where I wandered into Lindquist Hall, eager to check out my intended college building. A gentleman approached and offered help when I looked lost. After explaining my situation, he stopped what he was doing and gave me a tour of the building. His attention began my Weber State journey. I now proudly work alongside that gentleman and count him as one of many mentors I have at WSU. Through my faculty and classes, I found my academic passions and the field I want to pursue. This clarity has led to opportunities such as undergraduate research, grant funding to present research, studying abroad in Ghana, student government, and of course, being a proud Presidential Leadership Fellow.
What are your future goals? After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school to study comparative and international politics. While I am not sure as to my goals after graduate school, academia, nonprofit or working in the public sector all sound great.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Take a chance on Weber State! I genuinely believe WSU is a school that can give you an abundance of experiences and opportunities. We are such an authentic community and will welcome you with open arms. Get involved in ways that interest you. There are over 200 clubs, opportunities to work on campus including internships and cool study abroad trips.
South Ogden, UT
Courtney's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I am a senior at Weber State University where I’m majoring in chemistry.
What is your Weber Story? While writing an application essay for the National Honor Society in the seventh grade, I was tasked with answering, “Where do you want to go to college and what do you aspire to be?” To this, I replied, “I plan to attend Weber State University and pursue a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.”
When the time came, I applied to WSU without hesitation. I was accepted at 16 years old and left my hometown in Idaho to pursue dentistry. I am majoring in chemistry because it fulfills dental school prerequisites but also because I’m fascinated with its all-encompassing nature. Weber State has exposed me to new passions I never would’ve known existed without being exposed to chemistry research. Additionally, the plentiful opportunities and experiences will shape the foundation of who I am and what I have yet to become. My hard work is fueled by knowing one day I will fondly look back on my undergraduate years while standing in my own dental practice.
What are your future goals? After I graduate in the spring of 2023, I plan to take a gap year and work in the STEM field. Afterwards, I will pursue medicinal chemistry doctoral programs.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? I am a firm believer that life is what you make it. I can assure you that making Weber State a part of your life will be one of the best decisions for your future.
Liz Homez Gonzalez
Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Crime Scene Investigation
Liz's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I am a senior at Weber State University. My passion lies with forensic science and the criminal justice system, so I am majoring in criminal justice with an emphasis in crime scene investigation.
What is your Weber Story? I am from Venezuela and at the time of my immigration to America in 2016, I was unfamiliar with the higher education system, financial aid and scholarships. However, I knew I wanted to major in criminal justice and as WSU offered that degree, I applied to college on a whim and was accepted. I was immediately impressed with the accessibility of the numerous resources offered by the university, particularly the low tuition cost, smaller classrooms and opportunities for engagement. I found my passion for crime scene investigation after engaging with the very knowledgeable and experienced faculty, and thanks to Weber, I firmly found my path.
I have held leadership positions in campus organizations such as Latinos in Action, the American Democracy Project, Amnesty International, the Honors Student Advisory Board, and I am now a Presidential Leadership Fellow and work as a Peer Mentor lead. This has helped me develop as a leader and grow as a person. In the spring of 2022, I was fortunate to intern for the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. I’ve found my community at Weber State, which has instilled a drive for engagement and service.
What are your future goals? After I graduate in 2023, I plan to apply for graduate school. I am likely to further my knowledge in criminal justice and CSI because I believe that transparent evidence handling and processing techniques are pivotal to ensure a fair judicial process.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. There is community at Weber, but to find it, you must be willing to reach out and engage.
Major In Communications and Major in Political Science
Isaac's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Isaac Staszkow and I’m a sophomore at Weber State University where I’m double majoring in political science and communications.
What is your Weber Story? Originally from Idaho, I’d never been to Utah in my life. I chose WSU because I wanted to try something new and was drawn to Weber’s mountains and community which provide amazing opportunities for me to enjoy the great outdoors. When it comes to academics, WSU was comparable to other schools, however it was much more affordable than most, and I am able to attend with scholarships.
My experience at Weber State has been nothing short of amazing. I am working in student government as a senator and have met many amazing student leaders. This role has enabled my interactions with the athletics program to grow our student section at games. WSU also offers High Impact Educational Experiences which led to my internship at the Utah State Capitol where I worked alongside Sen. Daniel Thatcher.
What are your future goals? After graduation, I hope to either attend law school or obtain a Master of Public Administration. In my time spent with President Mortensen and his team, I have developed a passion for higher education. I hope to find a career in higher education and help college students reach their goals.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Take the risk. Be willing to do something different and create your own unique legacy.
West Haven, UT
Microbiology, Double Minor in Chemistry and Neuroscience
Benjamin's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I’m a junior majoring in microbiology and dual-minoring in chemistry and neuroscience. I feel privileged to participate in many campus organizations including WSU’s Tennis Club, Service Team, Community Engagement Team, Undergraduate Research Fellows, International Buddy Program and the Presidential Leadership Fellows.
What is your Weber Story? In high school, Weber State called to me with its fantastic pre-med programs, affordable tuition and beautiful location. Enrolling was a no-brainer with two older siblings who both recommended Weber. After only one semester, I knew I’d found a home where my true self was readily accepted and I was given ample opportunities for growth and leadership that have changed my life.
Medicine is a large driving force in my life. My experiences at WSU have enabled me to explore my curiosities through research into retinal regeneration in zebrafish and the potential of stem cell therapies. The university has allowed me to shine in ways that would be difficult to find elsewhere. My wife and I agree that WSU creates an incredibly fun environment and we’ve made lifelong friends and found support networks during our college careers.
What are your future goals? I will apply to medical school in the spring of 2023. As a future physician, I aim to fuse the practice of medicine with the advancement of knowledge and education. I would love to continue medical research as well as serve others for the rest of my life.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Take advantage of everything WSU has to offer and dive in! There are so many good things here and all it takes is the courage to join in and help out for you to learn and grow.
Quinn's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Quinn Tesch and I’m from Roy, Utah. I have spent my whole life in Utah and I absolutely love it here. I have a passion for sports and my Saturdays are devoted to college football! I am majoring in Weber State’s Criminal Justice Program and minoring in legal studies.
What is your Weber Story? My dad and brother went to Weber State. Growing up, I often visited the campus to catch a basketball game or go bowling at Wildcat Lanes. WSU was the only college I applied to and I quickly fell in love with the campus, faculty and staff. Additionally, WSU is where I met my wife and I eventually proposed to her at the top of campus just above the football stadium. This is my home and there is no place I’d rather be! I love reading about the law and writing legal briefs for my criminal justice classes. I chose this program because of the many reforms that need to take place in the U.S. criminal justice system.
What are your future goals? After I graduate in the spring of 2023, I am going to law school. Following that, who knows where life will take me. I would love to come back to Weber State as an adjunct professor and remain involved in education!
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? The best thing about Weber State is the faculty and staff. With small class sizes, you can have a personal relationship with your professors who are more than willing to help you out. This is the best university in Utah for me, and it can be the best for you too.
Accounting, Minor in Japanese
Jeffrey's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Jeffrey Burnett and I’m a junior at Weber State. I am in the Accounting Program and I’m minoring in Japanese. In addition to being a Presidential Leadership Fellow, I am president of the Kendo Club, which focuses on martial arts and Japanese swordplay.
What is your Weber Story? Many in my family are WSU alumni. My grandfather taught at Weber, my brother currently teaches at Weber and nearly all of my older siblings attended at one point or another. Thanks to them, I knew I would be treated as an individual and not a statistic. The ability to graduate debt-free through scholarships and grant opportunities really sealed the deal.
My academic and career path have not always been clear to me, but I’ve always known that I want a fulfilling career helping others. Originally, I hoped to be a psychiatrist, however, with the aid of helpful insight from my caring professors, I learned that my skills aligned more with accounting. Without WSU’s small class size, I might not have had the opportunity to develop such strong bonds with my professors. Thanks to these relationships, I developed the ability to accomplish the goals I set for myself and feel confident in my life plan.
What are your future goals? My overarching goal is to have a family and work alongside my wife to provide them with a life filled with opportunity. Additionally, I want to help others achieve their goals as I have been very fortunate with the opportunities presented during my life. With my background in accounting, I’d like to provide financial services to those in need and create safety net programs with the aim of providing access to education and funding.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Come and see WSU for yourself. We do very well compared to other schools and our professors make time for your individual needs, which is extremely unique and valuable.
Amanda's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Amanda Myers and I am a senior at Weber State. I’m double majoring in microbiology and zoology and triple minoring in psychology, chemistry and neuroscience.
What is your Weber Story? My grandfather was a professor of psychology at WSU for over 20 years, so Weber has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I admired him and the high regard shared between him and his colleagues. His influence and my desire to pursue higher education prompted my application to Weber State.
I am a first-generation college student and WSU’s low-cost tuition and available financial aid made college a possibility. The fact that it was affordable and close to home played a part in my decision, but ultimately it was WSU’s community that solidified my decision.
What are your future goals? After graduation in the fall of 2023, I will be applying to nearby dental schools. I aspire to complete my Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry and be someone that patients can trust. It is important to have responsible and knowledgeable people caring for those we love.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Make an effort to get to know your professors as they are willing and waiting to open doors for you that will unlock unimaginable opportunities.
Supply Chain Management
Lydia's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. I’m Lydia Muster and I’ll graduate with my bachelor's degree in supply chain management this spring. I chose my major because I’m passionate about ethical sourcing and sustainable manufacturing.
What is your Weber Story? I had the opportunity to participate in WSU NUAMES Early College. Thanks to Weber State University, I graduated with my high school diploma and associate's degree within a month of each other. Staying at WSU for my bachelor's degree was a no-brainer. Over the past two years, I have made invaluable connections, received professional mentorship and pursued internship opportunities that have and will continue to benefit me throughout my career. The class sizes are small and professors genuinely care about student success.
What are your future goals? I want to use my degree to help develop products and processes that are sustainable and profitable by design. I also hope to boost transparency and traceability within diamond and textile supply chains.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Weber State provides so many versions of the college experience. No matter who you are or where you come from, you’ll have an exceptional opportunity for knowledge and growth.
Biochemistry, Double minor in Zoology and Microbiology
Maren's PLF Pawprint
Tell us about yourself, in a nutshell. My name is Maren Dawson and I am a pre-med student majoring in chemistry and minoring in zoology.
What is your Weber Story? I came to Weber because it is affordable and allows me to remain close to my family. I have stayed because Weber State cares about their students and is built to provide opportunities for success on a more personal level. I have been fortunate to participate in many clubs and organizations on campus, conduct self-directed undergraduate research projects and meet lifelong friends. Weber has provided me opportunities that would not have been available to me at other universities.
What are your future goals? I am going to be an orthopedic surgeon.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in Weber State? Be involved in what you can, the memories will last you a lifetime!