Published: Jan. 19, 2024 By

The B-school claimed three of 16 winners campuswide, who were recognized for outstanding character and exceptional service.

Leaders aren’t born—they’re self-made. At Leeds School of Business, students are presented with countless opportunities to grow into leaders. That may explain why this year’s prestigious CU Student Leader of the Year award went to not just one Leeds student, but three.

Along with 13 other students from across campus, Kaela Gero (Fin, BusAn’24 ), Meghan Fall (Mktg’26) and Bianca Rubini-Tapernoux (Mktg’25) were each named a CU Student Leader by  CU’s Center for Leadership. This year marked the sixth consecutive time that a Leeds Scholar has won the award.

“I am extremely proud of these three students, who embody our program’s values of community engagement, global awareness, inclusivity, ethically-driven leadership, and quite simply, being a good person who lifts up those around them,” said Darrell Zechman, senior director of Special Programs at STEM Initiatives at Leeds.

Learned leaders

Kaela GeroKaela Gero (Fin, BusAn’24) was nominated by Zechman this year. “Kaela is an inclusive person who listens to others and ensures that those around her find a general sense of happiness and belonging. Her ability to see an issue and find creative solutions that bring people together is admirable,” he wrote in his nomination.

In addition to her role as a Leeds Scholar, Gero is a member of the Leeds Honors Program, a peer mentor and a teaching assistant. She has also completed prestigious internships at BlackRock and KSL Capital Partners, volunteered extensively, and gained experiential learning that has helped expand her global mindset.

She was recently recognized for her dedication and commitment to tutoring. She’s also heavily invested in mentorship and committed to instilling confidence in students.

“A good leader,” she said, “is someone who can naturally inspire and empower others, motivating them to achieve their full potential. They lead with empathy, inclusivity, and unwavering integrity, creating an environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged to participate.”

Meghan FallMeghan Fall (Mktg’26), a Leeds Scholar studying marketing with a minor in Italian, is a Dalai Lama Fellow with the Renée Crown Wellness Institute and the president of the NMDP chapter at CU (formerly known as ‘Be the Match’), which helps save lives through blood marrow donation.

She was nominated for the student leadership award by CU’s Volunteer Resource Center (VRC), which praised “her propensity for activation and a knack for building community among her peers.“ They described her as “the type of person who connects to her values and lived experiences—who embraces differences and uses them to strengthen a group.”

The Miss Colorado Organization saw the same leadership aptitude in Fall and recently crowned her Miss Boulder. Inspired by the loss of her father when she was 16, she launched the ‘Good Grief’ group through the Renée Crown Wellness Institute at CU Boulder as her community service initiative, which focuses on supporting young adults experiencing grief. In addition, she spearheaded a new partnership with Judi’s House, which supports grieving children and their families.

“For me, a great leader leads with compassion and makes everyone feel seen and heard within a group,” Fall said.

In less than two years at CU, she has logged over 170 hours on five different service experiences with the Volunteer Resource Center (VRC). As a PALS Peer Mentor, a site leader for the inaugural Winter Alternative Break, and a facilitator of the Volunteer Placement Program with Colorado Reading Partners, her ability to embrace differences and use them to strengthen a group has contributed to each program’s success.

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“A good leader is willing to acknowledge what they don’t know and willing to learn to achieve the best possible outcome.”

Bianca Rubini-Tapernoux (Mktg’25)

Bianca Rubini-Tapernoux Bianca Rubini-Tapernoux (Mktg’25) is working toward a marketing degree as well as certificates in Global Business and Social Responsibility, while also minoring in political science and international affairs.

Her involvement in Leeds Scholars has helped shape her leadership development through working cross-culturally with students from Japan and doing an ‘Outdoor Access for All’ outreach project to improve access to outdoor recreation. In addition, her participation in the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative's Ethics of Service Learning Cohort has reinforced her dedication to ethical leadership and social responsibility.

The Conference on World Affairs (CWA) nominated Rubini-Tapernoux for CU’s leadership award after watching her in action for the last two years on the CWA business committee. She leads a team of students and community members in creating business-centric programming, which includes panel development, speaker recruitment, content and logistics.

CWA praised her for “exceptional service to campus and community, exemplary character, and embodiment of the values of the campus Colorado Creed.”

Rubini-Tapernoux explained that she’s recently taken on her most important role yet: the re-envisioning of the 76-year CU tradition for 2025 and beyond. She is the only student within a special task force that oversees conducting research and drafting a plan to present to the chancellor for the future of CWA.

“I believe a defining trait of a good leader is having a lifelong commitment to learning,” she said. “A good leader is willing to acknowledge what they don’t know and willing to learn to achieve the best possible outcome...Great leaders empower others using their knowledge and creativity; they can adapt to whatever challenge they are facing.”

See how others at Leeds have learned to lead in the latest edition of Business at Leeds magazine.