Rarely, if ever, has the Texas Exes presented a Top Hand Award to a current UT student. But this spring, the Association made outgoing student government president Natalie Butler its latest such winner. Here are six reasons why.
1. She stepped up. As higher education’s value in Texas was challenged like never before last year, Natalie Butler quickly became a key defender of The University of Texas at Austin.
2. She got cracking on her first day on the job. On that day in spring 2011, she represented the student body on a visit to Arizona State University in Tempe. In the height of that year’s tensions, she then expressed her concerns about what she saw there in an open letter, saying that while ASU’s goals (like more online-only classes) worked for that school’s mission, they wouldn’t work as well for UT-Austin. “I am from Tempe,” she wrote. “There are important reasons I didn’t go to ASU and why I left and chose to attend The University of Texas at Austin. I wanted to be challenged, to grow intellectually, and to go to a school where I would be surrounded by students with similar drive. I knew that I would find none of those things at ASU. Our trip last week showed me that I had indeed made the right decision.”
Even with the heat she took from members of the UT family who had a different opinion, we learned that Butler was a forced to be reckoned with. From Day One, she had her true north.
3. She went intergenerational. A member of Gen Y, Butler had significant Twitter and Facebook presences for interacting with her peers—but she also interacted seamlessly with everyone from top administrators to distinguished alumni to Texas legislators.
4. She proved herself. Butler demonstrated a real savvy, engaging friends and ideological opponents alike with her perspective, presence, and leadership.
5. She’s ready to keep giving. Prior to joining Boston Consulting Group in the fall, Butler will join the Texas Exes team as a summer fellow, working to renew the Association’s relationships with past student leaders.
6. Fate touched her. For more than a century, UT has produced student leaders who have become city council members, governors, congressmen, ambassadors, and beyond. As many of them would learn later on, remarkable leadership emerges when extraordinary circumstances present themselves unexpectedly. When those circumstances presented themselves to Butler, she distinguished herself early. Great things are no doubt ahead.
Photo by John Fitch
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