Presidential Scholars

The TU Presidential Scholarship is the most generous academic merit award given by The University of Tulsa. The award is based on several factors, including exceptional performance in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, demonstrated leadership, and/or service using TULSA as an acronym:

Understanding the TU environment

The Presidential Scholarship Program recognizes scholars of diverse backgrounds and cultures and with varied interests who will make a positive difference on campus and in their communities.

Through the Presidential Scholarship selection process among a highly competitive applicant pool, the committee is seeking to find academically stellar students with the greatest potential to be effective student leaders at TU. Presidential Scholars think deeply, are engaged fully, are willing to pursue what matters to them in an above and beyond way, and understand the commitment to the university’s core values: excellence in scholarship, dedication to free inquiry, integrity of character, and commitment to humanity.

Award Amount

The Presidential Scholarship covers full tuition for four years (8 consecutive undergraduate semesters total, excluding summers).

Information Sessions

The University of Tulsa Office of Admission will host two information sessions this semester which will cover the Presidential Scholarship eligibility and application requirements, as well as the interview selection process. Register below to participate.

  • Presidential Scholarship Information Session – November 12, 2020 – Register here.
  • Presidential Scholarship Information Session – December 3, 2020 – Register here.
  • Eligibility Requirements

    To be considered for the Presidential Scholarship, applicants must meet one or more of the following eligibility requirements.

    • National Merit Semifinalists who list The University of Tulsa as School of Choice with National Merit Scholarship Corporation
    • National Hispanic Scholars who rank in the top 10% of their graduating class
    • Students who either
      • Rank in the top 5% of their graduating class OR
      • Have at least a 4.0 weighted grade point average
  • Application Requirements

    To be considered for the Presidential Scholarship, interested applicants must:

    • Submit an application for admission to The University of Tulsa by January 15.
    • Have the high school submit an official transcript to The University of Tulsa by January 15.
    • Submit the online Special Programs Application including the required one-page resume and short answers for the Presidential Scholarship by January 15. 
    • Visit TU’s campus by Wednesday, January 20. (A virtual admission presentation will suffice if an in-person daily visit is unfeasible.)
    • Complete a Presidential Scholarship virtual interview during one of three interview dates. NOTE: Interviews selection is competitive. Interviews are by invitation only. Not all applicants will be selected to interview.
      • Monday, February 15
      • Friday, February 19
      • Sunday, February 21
    • Want to know more about the required and optional materials? Click here for a video with information. (Passcode: UTulsa2021!)
  • Optional Application Materials

    To be considered for the Presidential Scholarship, interested applicants might also want to:

    • Have the school counselor submit the Presidential Scholarship Nomination Form by January 15. We will soon provide a link to a request form where you can provide your counselor information. A link to the Presidential Scholarship Counselor Nomination Form will be e-mailed to your counselor upon submission of the request form. You may want to share your resume with your counselor to help them complete the nomination form. The deadline date for this optional Presidential Scholarship Counselor Nomination Form is January 15. It’s common courtesy to give your counselor two-weeks’ notice, so don’t delay in submitting this request form. It’s fine for your counselor to submit the Presidential Scholarship Counselor Nomination Form prior to your submission of the Special Programs Application.
    • Meet with your TU admission counselor by January 15 for a Talk with Tulsa or a Next Steps Meeting.
    • Share a video (45-seconds maximum) with your Special Programs Application by January 15.
      • Create a short (45-seconds maximum) video to showcase your unique personality, talents, and abilities.
      • Show us why you want to attend TU and how you will fit into our close-knit community of scholars. Tell us about how your personality and experience will contribute to our student body. Illustrate how you will be a contributing member of the TU Golden Hurricane community.
      • Remember the details:
        • Start the video with your name, hometown and state.
        • Choose the message you want to say and how you want to convey it.
        • Adhere to basic YouTube guidelines.
        • Use your phone. No high-tech equipment needed as videos won’t be evaluated for production quality.
        • Stick to the 45-second time limit.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    How can I find out more about the required and optional application materials?

    You’re in luck! We’ve created this video (Passcode: UTulsa2021!) to provide more information about the following:

    • Required one-page resume
    • Visiting TU in person or virtually
    • 45-second optional video
    • Admission counselor meeting

    Do I need to apply to the Honors Program or other special programs to make my Presidential Scholarship application stronger?
    No. Students are encouraged to apply to any of TU special programs of interest to them, but should understand the Presidential Scholarship committee will not have access to responses provided for any other TU special program. The review committees for each of TU’s Special Programs are separate and each program may be looking for different types of students.

    How are Presidential Scholarship applicants chosen to be interviewed?
    Students who are academically qualified to apply for the scholarship are selected for an interview based upon the strength of their application for the scholarship, their interaction (demonstrated interest) with The University of Tulsa and their potential to make a positive difference. Demonstrated interest can be displayed though active communication with your admission counselor, having an interview (Talk with Tulsa or Next Steps Meeting), and attending other TU-sponsored events such as admission presentations and academic webinars. Students can show their potential to make a positive difference by displaying outstanding leadership, having active civic engagement and/or being involved in community service in their schools and/or communities. Interview spots are limited; therefore, interview selection is competitive.

    Does a past campus visit to TU satisfy the requirement to visit the campus by January 20?
    Yes! Provided you’ve had an official visit through TU’s Office of Admission (daily visit, campus visit program such as TU Up Close, or Virtual Admission Presentation), this satisfies the visit requirement.

    When will applicants be notified about an interview?
    All Presidential Scholarship applicants will be notified by February 1 if they have been selected for an interview, are on the waitlist for an interview, or if they are no longer being considered for the scholarship. Students who are selected for an interview will have until February 5 to confirm a virtual interview date and time. If anyone selected for an interview opts not to continue, we will notify students on the interview waitlist accordingly.

    Where and when will Presidential Scholarship interviews take place?
    Presidential Scholarship interviews will be offered virtually. Specific interview dates are as follows:
    • Monday, February 15
    • Friday, February 19
    • Sunday, February 21

    What should I expect for the interview itself?
    The Presidential Scholarship interview is an opportunity for us to learn more about your accomplishments, aspirations, and interest in TU. All students selected for a Presidential Scholarship interview have already shown exceptional academic ability. The interview allows us to get to know applicants better outside of academics and helps us determine those who think deeply, are engaged fully, and are willing to pursue what matters to them in an above and beyond way. Faculty, staff, alumni and/or current Presidential Scholars participate in the interview process.

    What should I wear to the Presidential Scholarship interview?
    As this will be a virtual interview, we encourage you to take care in setting up your space to help you feel most confident. Wear something that helps you look and feel your best and helps you present your best self. Have good lighting and be sure your audio and video are working correctly.

    What is the committee looking for when they make their selections for the Presidential Scholarship? What criteria are considered?
    The goal of the Presidential Scholarship program is to identify members of the freshman class with the greatest potential to be effective student leaders at TU using TULSA as an acronym for Talent, Understanding the TU environment, Leadership, Service and Academics. Among a highly competitive applicant pool, the committee seeks to recognize a group of scholars of diverse backgrounds and cultures and with varied interests who demonstrate an understanding of the commitment to the university’s core values: excellence in scholarship, dedication to free inquiry, integrity of character, and commitment to humanity.

    How many students will receive the Presidential Scholarship?
    The number of Presidential Scholarships awarded varies between 50-75 each year.

    When will I find out if I have received the scholarship?
    All Presidential Scholarship applicants (recipients and non-recipients) will be notified no later than April 1. Students who are awarded the Presidential Scholarship must notify the Office of Admission of their enrollment plans by May 1 to accept the scholarship.

    Once Presidential Scholarship awards have been offered, is there a waiting list? What happens if someone declines the offer?
    While it’s possible that a student who is awarded the Presidential Scholarship may not accept it, we make accommodations for this possibility in our awarding process and, therefore, we do not create a waitlist for this award. When a Presidential Scholar declines our offer, we’ve accounted for those funds in this situation and they’re not “leftover” to redistribute to other candidates.

    What are the requirements to maintain the Presidential Scholarship?
    Scholarship recipients must be enrolled full-time and maintain a minimum cumulative 3.25 GPA. Additionally, they are expected to attend university-sponsored special events and functions. Recipients will receive a Letter of Agreement outlining more details of these expectations.

  • Additional Information

    New Presidential Scholarships beginning with the Fall of 2020 will be funded through various TU scholarships/grants and a named Presidential Scholarship amounting to $6,000; up to the cost of tuition. Outside scholarships for which the student has qualified, along with need-based government grants for which the student is eligible, may not exceed the federal cost of attendance.

    A minimum full-time enrollment and cumulative GPA of 3.25 and attendance of special events are required to maintain the Presidential scholarship funding.

Meet TU Presidential Scholars

Davyani Srivastava

Dallas, TX

Maggie Holtmann

St. Louis, MO

Zach Short

Spokane, MO

Lanie McKinney

Tulsa, OK

Neha Khalid

Omaha, NE

Sam Modde

St. Louis, MO

Danita Mathew

Garland, TX

Candelaria Alayon

Las Vegas, NV

Freddy Ward

Van Buren, AR

Davyani Srivastava

Dallas, TX

Name: Davyani Srivastava

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Major(s): Biochemistry, Spanish, Pre-Med


What are you involved in at TU? At TU, I am the senior organizer for TEDx U TULSA, a peer mentor, executive member of the Indian Student Association, Global Scholar, member of Future Alumni council, TA for the PLE, director of community service for Mortar Board, NOVA fellowship and an academic tutor. Off-campus, l work for the Take Control Initiative as a lead peer health educator and am on their advisory board, volunteer at Hillcrest Hospital, DVIS and am a crisis counselor.

What is your favorite thing about TU? I love the community at TU! Everyone here is on your side and wants to make sure that you are prepped and ready for your future endeavors. Whether it be the career center coaches guiding me through med school apps or professors helping me delve into my interests through internships, I have felt so supported for my life after graduation. Also, storming the court during Tulsa vs Wichita State basketball games is amazing!

How the Presidential Scholarship has impacted your life? Through the Presidential scholarship, I was able to study at a school and in a city that let me pursue my interests to the fullest extent. Whether it be getting the chance to double major, make a huge difference in the community around me or develop a rich professional network both on and off-campus, l can easily say that the opportunities I’ve received as a result of being a presidential scholar are unmatched. l hope to use the knowledge and experience I’ve attained in my aspirations to be a physician.

Piece of advice for students applying for the Presidential Scholarship. Make sure you’re familiar with our mission and how what you’ve done across your high school aligns with it. We pride ourselves in character, service, and scholarship and want to make sure you will uphold that. Really hit those points in your essay and interview!

Maggie Holtmann

St. Louis, MO

Name: Maggie Holtmann

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Major(s): Chemical Engineering

Minor(s): Music

What are you involved in at TU? If I am not in my dorm/apartment, I am probably at St. Philip Neri Catholic Newman Center! I also have worked on two efforts with Engineers Without Borders USA, most notably the Bolivia Sanitation Project. I attended the JumpStartTU trip to Panama my freshman year and have continued to do service for and with the Center for Global Engagement. I also have been involved in Club Tennis.

What is your favorite thing about TU? I love how TU is small enough that I get to know my professors and classmates well, but it is still big enough that I am always making new connections. The community is supportive, there are always fun and meaningful things to do outside of classes, and any resources I need are readily available.

How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? I felt a strong pull to attend TU, but my college choice depended greatly on my receiving the Presidential Scholarship. When I did receive the scholarship, I was able to choose my #1 college choice without worrying about the cost to attend. I also am encouraged to prioritize studies and feel relieved of any pressure to balance part-time work with school.

Now that I am at TU, I could not imagine being anywhere else and treasure the ability to call myself a TU student. I have had college experiences unique to TU, from traveling to Panama before freshman year to studying on the second floor of the library while watching the sun set over the Tulsa skyline. I love knowing the names of everyone in my chemical engineering classes and having relationships with each of my professors. At the Newman Center, I have deepened my faith and met some of my greatest friends. I owe all of these experiences and so many more to the Presidential Scholarship, which made attending TU possible and the obvious choice for me.

What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? Give your best effort and dedicate good time to the application process for the scholarship because it is a great honor to receive. You will get to represent the Presidential Scholarhip program alongside a great community of bright students and excellent people, and it alleviates any financial worries you may have about university costs. However, if possible, do not make your college decision solely based on the scholarship because in retrospect, if I did not receive the scholarship, I would’ve chosen TU 100 times again.

Zach Short

Spokane, MO

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Name: Zach Short

Hometown: Spokane, Missouri (tiny town south of Springfield!)

Major(s): Political Science, English

What are you involved in at TU?
I am involved in two co-curricular programs, Honors and Global Scholars, and completed another my freshman year with the Presidential Leaders Fellowship. As for extra-curricular, I am the sports editor at the student newspaper, The Collegian, I am involved with Senate in Student Association, and I frequent both the French and Spanish clubs (the latter a.k.a. La Tertulia).

What is your favorite thing about TU? My favorite part of TU is definitely the academic culture. All the professors that I have had thus far have been fantastic instructors, and they all sought to challenge students and make them better scholars in their own right. Additionally, students tend to take their academics seriously on their own, both in seeking interesting and challenging courses and in pursuing similar interests in their free time.

How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? It has certainly given me the freedom to pursue my academic interests freely and without financial concern. As to the perhaps less obvious consequences, it has connected me with some great people in and out of my courses, programs, and degree paths. Getting to see people at the mixer early last year helped me find people with similar interests and dedications in their personal and academic lives, although my friend group certainly comprises people outside of the other presidential scholars as well.

What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? Be genuine. Everyone applying has plenty of student involvement and accomplishments to list, and those can stay in a resume, but do not waste any essay trying to talk about those. Instead, try to detail your interests and passions in your essays, while also trying to prove your ability as a writer. Same goes for the interview; just try to talk about how interesting you are as a person.

Lanie McKinney

Tulsa, OK

Name: Lanie McKinney

Hometown: Tulsa, OK

Major(s): Physics, Applied Math

Minor(s): Computer Science

What are you involved in at TU? When I was a freshman, I started the Women’s Lacrosse Team and served as the president for two years. I am serving a second term as a senator for the college of Engineering and Natural Sciences, and an additional term as the Student Association Secretary. Currently, I’m the Society of Women in Physics President and hold an exec position in my Sorority. I volunteer as a mentor for the Tulsa Girls Math Circle, and I’m an honors scholar pursuing an honors plan with the aim to understand the current breakdown in scientific communication.

What is your favorite thing about TU? I love the people that I’ve met, and the community that TU has created here. I love getting to know my professors and knowing (and saying hi) to most people I pass as I head to class. A community where I’ve found fellow physicists, philosophers, lacrosse players, and lifelong friends. This community is so special.

How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? The Presidential Scholarship gives me the freedom to pursue my degree without worrying as much about money, and allows me to focus solely on my classes and preparing myself for graduate study and my future career. 

What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? Think about the way in which you want to benefit the TU community through your unique gifts, interests, and passions, and find a way to articulate that. It will benefit you as you envision yourself at TU and beyond, and will help TU see the addition you would be to our campus. Most importantly, be yourself! TU wants your unique gifts and passions, not anyone else’s.

Neha Khalid

Omaha, NE

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Name: Neha Khalid

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

Major(s): Biochemistry

Minor(s): Psychology

What are you involved in at TU? I am currently the Vice-President of the American Red Cross Chapter at the University of Tulsa as well as a curator for the TEDx UTulsa organization. In addition, I am a member of the Future Alumni Council as well as the Alpha Epsilon Delta Organization, Beta Beta Beta Honor Society, and Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. I am also a proud member of the University of Tulsa’s Honor Program as well as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Teams, Attitudes, and Climates Lab.

What is your favorite thing about TU? My favorite thing about TU is the sense of camaraderie! TU is a small school and you get to know everyone pretty fast as you usually see the same group of people frequently. I absolutely love walking back from class and seeing people I know and catching up with them. TU is an amazing place to make lifelong friendships!

How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? The presidential scholarship has impacted my life greatly as it allowed me to pursue higher education. With the Presidential Scholarship, I was able to come to an amazing school that is filled with educators that push me to become the best possible version of myself, both academically and socially. They encourage me to dream big and help me work towards a goal that I previously would have thought impossible. I have met so many new people and made friendships that will last a lifetime. I am surrounded by a compassionate and driven community and have been presented with so many amazing opportunities such as the ability to complete research as an undergraduate. I would never have been exposed to such amazing opportunities had I not gotten the Presidential Scholarship and attended TU.

What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? Don’t be modest! You worked hard in high school and you deserve to have that work acknowledged! Even something that seems silly or small to you can be important to the admission counselor. Just make sure to explain the significance of each activity and not just list it. You want to make sure that whoever is reading your application can get a sense of your voice and feel like they know you. Be yourself and be proud!

Sam Modde

St. Louis, MO

­­­­­­­­­­Name: Sam Modde

Hometown:St. Louis, MO

Major(s):Film Studies, Media Studies


What are you involved in at TU? TU has given me the opportunity to fully invest myself in the community. I am currently the director of the TUTV Media Lab after holding other leadership positions there as early as first semester freshman year. I am also an active member of Lambda Chi Alpha and a part of the Newman Center. Around Tulsa, I often volunteer at the local food bank and have helped with the yearly Lemon-Aid Project.


What is your favorite thing about TU? Campus involvement is a huge highlight that you will not find anywhere else. Whether it’s cheering on one of our athletic teams during a rivalry game, or going to the Springfest concert, or huddling around the huge bonfire for homecoming, there are always so many students in attendance and actively participating, which elevates these events to an even better level. Seeing so many students take pride in their school and campus experiences is such an amazing thing and speaks to the dedication TU puts into fostering this sense of community.


How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? This scholarship allows me to fully invest myself into my college experience. By funding my education, it has enabled me to develop deep, enriching relationships with my teachers and peers, allowing me to continue learning long after the bell rings. I have been able to develop and then enact my leadership skills through my various activities on campus. Without this scholarship, I would have never even dreamed of experiences like studying abroad in Spain for a semester being possible for me.


What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? My advice to anyone filling out an application is to be genuine. You know your own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities better than anyone, and having the ability to ground how you portray yourself in your experiences and sincerely convey yourself to people will serve you well in life, academically and beyond.

Danita Mathew

Garland, TX

Name: Danita Mathew

Hometown: Garland, Texas

Major(s): Biochemistry

Minor(s): Neuroscience, Spanish

What are you involved in at TU?  I am involved in TEDxUTulsa, Alpha Epsilon Delta, Phi Eta Sigma, Global Scholars, Future Alumni Council, and the Indian Students Association. I am currently the secretary for the TU Chapter of the American Red Cross. I also am involved in undergraduate research with the Iyer Lab at TU, where I also participated in TURC (Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge) over the summer.

What is your favorite thing about TU? Our size! Being a small school is amazing because you can walk across campus and see so many familiar faces, which made me feel a lot less homesick my freshman year.

How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? The Presidential Scholarship has allowed me to experience college to the fullest by immersing myself in extracurriculars, research, and academics. The opportunities that have been opened to me through this scholarship have allowed me to get closer to my dream of attending medical school and obtaining my M.D./Ph.D. degree. The network of Scholars has also allowed me to create deeper connections with other high-achieving students in the TU community.

What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? Be authentic in your application; talk about your journey thus far, and how TU would play a part in that. The interview can be nerve-wracking but try to relax and be yourself! I would also suggest looking up our university’s values as inspiration!

Candelaria Alayon

Las Vegas, NV

Name: Candelaria Alayon

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Major(s): Mechanical Engineer

Minor(s): Innovation, Change, & Entrepreneurship


What are you involved in at TU? I have always been passionate about STEM and especially encouraging minorities to pursue STEM, so I joined The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) where I became President my sophomore year and currently am Treasurer. Also, I joined the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) where I am the Vice President. I also am part of Tau Beta Pi and currently am the Secretary. Outside of engineering, I am a University Ambassador, Future Alumni Council member, Peer Mentor, and the President-designate for Phi Eta Sigma.


What is your favorite thing about TU? The moment I stepped onto TU’s campus, I realized I had found an amazing place to call my home for the next four years. From student success coaching to the career center to the dozens of different clubs, the opportunities and resources that TU offers are amazing. In addition, I was able to find an amazing community of people from different backgrounds that became great study buddies and lifelong friends.

How has the Presidential Scholarship impacted your life? The opportunity to be a Presidential Scholar has really impacted my life. By focusing less on finances, I am able to dedicate more time to my studies and interest which is how I was able to get so involved around campus. These interests have allowed me to find the career path I want to take once I graduate and find resources and opportunities to get there. Given the competitive field of engineering and the caliber of students at TU, it can be really hard to stand out. But being a presidential scholar not only gave me a talking point but was recognized by potential employers as a mark of excellence.


What advice would you give to students applying for the Presidential Scholarship? This scholarship embodies leadership, academic achievements, and just being true to yourself. Every student accepted at TU already has many of these qualities, so just be confident. Throughout the application process, show TU who you truly are and be proud of everything you have accomplished.

Freddy Ward

Van Buren, AR

Name: Freddy Ward

Hometown: Van Buren, AR

Major(s): Chemical Engineering/Pre-Med Option

Minor(s): History, Neuroscience