President’s Award for Leadership Goes to Aerith Cruz

President Richard Koubek stands to the left of student Aerith Cruz
Cruz, pictured here with University President Richard Koubek, also served as co-host of the 29th annual ceremony.

Management information systems (MIS) major Aerith Cruz, a 2020 Chaska High School graduate, is the 2023 recipient of the President’s Award for Leadership, presented annually to one Husky selected from a pack of nominees who provide exemplary leadership to peers through activities at Michigan Tech. At the Student Leadership Awards Ceremony on April 14, Michigan Tech President Richard Koubek honored Cruz with the award. The annual event celebrates and recognizes leadership, excellence, kindness, and achievement.

Throughout Cruz’s layers of involvement on campus, a common thread is present: Creating opportunities for others—even when they can’t see the possibilities for themselves.

Photo of MTU student Aerith Cruz
Aerith Cruz has held internship experiences with 3M and is also a recipient of the MIS Alumni Scholarship awarded annually by faculty.

As a Leading Scholar, Cruz has supported students considering their MTU journey by volunteering at more than 10 scholarship events and mentoring five prospective students as a Tech Pal. She has also supported her peers as both an Orientation Team Leader and ExSEL Peer Mentor with the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success.

As a former varsity fencer, Cruz was determined to make fencing accessible at Tech. She introduced beginner lessons, led community events, and created training regimens. Under her leadership as president of the Fencing Club at Michigan Tech, more than 200 participants tried the sport for the first time, and active membership in the group increased by 500 percent! 

Cruz is a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion within STEM. She has served on the Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s President’s Council, where she has been pivotal in mentoring fellow leaders in guiding their organizations and advocating for the needs of students.

Faculty nominator Jeff Wall states, “Projects I run always have better results when Aerith is in the class…she provides technical leadership to peers on projects that require computing and statistical knowledge. Her MIS classmates look up to her as a mentor.”

Perhaps her most notable impact has been serving as the president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a student organization with more than 200 members. Throughout her term, Cruz sponsored campuswide initiatives, such as hosting the Breaking Stereotypes for Women Engineers event, and advancing The Cycle Project, which provides free menstrual products throughout campus.

Cruz’s years of service with SWE culminated with the establishment of the SWE Endowed Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a SWE member beginning in 2026. “Being endowed by a student organization makes it extremely unique,” James Desrochers writes in his nomination of Cruz, adding:

“This idea had been discussed by prior leadership, but Aerith’s style allowed it to be completed.”

James Desrochers, Director for Corporate Relations

Aerith Cruz’s leadership at Michigan Tech has had a deep and meaningful impact, and will have reverberations for years to come. Gabriel Jesus Escobedo, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, summarizes: “Aerith is a mentor, a friend, a leader, and a scholar. She is helping to build a lasting community at Tech. One that champions and inspires others to achieve their dreams.”

Nominations for next year’s Student Leadership Awards will open in February 2024. The 30th annual awards celebration is planned for 6 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2024, in the Memorial Union Building Ballroom.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accountingbusiness analyticsconstruction managementeconomicsengineering managementfinancemanagementmanagement information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.