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J. J. "Jake" Pickle Citizenship Award

The J.J. "Jake" Pickle Citizenship Award is presented annually to a UT Austin student whose cumulative and notable contributions to campus life exemplify the high standards of leadership and service that were the hallmarks of the life and career of Congressman Pickle. It is an endowed student award created by the University Unions Advisory Council in 1999. It is presented annually to a student at UT Austin who makes cumulative, notable contributions to campus life over a period of time and epitomizes the values of Congressman Pickle. The recipient is awarded $5,000, a certificate and an autographed copy of Congressman Pickle’s autobiography "Jake."


The 2024 recipient is Colin Crawford. Originally from Argyle, Texas, Crawford is a senior government and history major. Chosen for the award because of his wide-ranging campus involvement and leadership, Crawford has contributed to the well-being of the University and local community through his involvement in Sigma Phi Epsilon, Texas Trees for Change and Texas Undergraduate Law Journal.

As a leader in these organizations, he led an after-school program at Zavala Elementary School that included academic mentorship, playground activities and board games. He also hosted a campus-wide charity dodgeball tournament that raised more than $9,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Austin. Additionally, he co-founded Texas Trees for Change, a student-led philanthropy organization which seeks to increase tree canopies at East Austin elementary schools. Crawford’s wide-ranging campus involvement, leadership and commitment to UT Austin’s future clearly came through in his application, which aligned with the outlook on community service held by Jake Pickle. 


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Pal-Make A Difference Award

The Pal-Make A Difference Award is presented annually to a UT Austin student whose individual program or initiative has made a significant contribution to campus life or the broader community. It is an endowed award, established in 2006 by University Unions Advisory Council member Jaspreet Singh Pal (BBA ’95) to encourage university leadership and public service. The recipient is awarded $1,500 and a certificate.


The 2024 recipient is Elijah Kahlenberg. Originally from San Antonio, Kahlenberg is a junior government, Middle East and Jewish studies major. Chosen for creating and leading Atidna International, Kahlenberg’s work has formed newfound connections between Jewish and Arab students on college campuses, leading to an increase of concord and cooperation between the two communities. His hard work and persistence also earned him a prestigious Truman Scholarship, which provides $30,000 to a student pursuing post-graduate studies in a public service field. Kahlenberg’ plans to use the Truman award to pursue a joint J.D. and Ph.D. at Columbia University. 

Atidna is a grassroots, campus-based peace and open dialogue initiative organization dedicated to bringing together Jews/Israelis and Arabs/Palestinians to have a civil dialogue. Atidna International seeks to bring togetherness and peace through understanding and reconciliation. Through his demonstration of love and concern for fellow students at UT Austin and beyond, Kahlenberg’s application was well aligned with what the Pal-Make A Difference Award represents. 

William Andrew Smith, Jr.

William Andrew Smith, Jr. GRASP Award Recipients

The Grants for Active Student Participants (GRASP) endowment was created in 2006 through the generosity of Union's Executive Board members and was named in honor of past Unions' Executive Director Andy Smith in 2013. $1,500 is awarded to each recipient. The purpose of the William Andrew Smith, Jr. GRASP Award is to encourage and facilitate continued participation, particularly by freshman and sophomore students, in University Unions committees and programs. It provides awards to students who have demonstrated leadership qualities, an enthusiasm for campus citizenship and solid academic performance.


The 2024 recipients of the GRASP award are Thien Nguyen and Janice Kim, both originally from Houston. The awardees impressed the committee with their leadership, commitment and enthusiasm through their work with the University Unions’ Campus Events + Entertainment organization. These students exhibit the core values of UT Austin, and the selection committee believes they will continue to positively contribute to the Unions and create opportunities for their peers. 

The GRants for Active Student Participants (GRASP) endowment was created in 2006 through the generosity of the University Unions Advisory Council. It was renamed the William Andrew Smith, Jr. GRASP Award in 2013. Stipends are awarded yearly to up to two students who have demonstrated leadership qualities, an enthusiasm for campus citizenship, and who, for various reasons, might be unable to participate without support. Preference is given to freshmen and sophomores.