Most of the students who join the University of North Texas’ Professional Leadership Program, designed to prepare students for their careers through mentorship and training, are exceptional academics and leaders — smart, hard working and ambitious. But even among these top-tier students, Alexia Ardeleanu stood out.
“Having been a PLP mentor myself, and now the director, I’ve known a lot of students in the program, and there’s never been a student like her who had her heart and gave what she gave to PLP,” said Program Director Billy Johnson. “She was always giving, always putting others first.”
The UNT accounting major was killed by a drunk driver on June 15, 2014. Now, just a year later, PLP has distributed the first scholarships from The Alexia Ardeleanu Professional Leadership Program Scholarship Fund, set up in Alexia’s memory to assist students and alumni of the program she loved.
McKesson, the pharmaceutical corporation for which Alexia was an intern, made a $5,000 gift to the fund, and Ray White, Alexia’s PLP mentor at McKesson, teamed up with PLP alumnus Austin Hatcher to write Alexia’s Legacy, a book about Alexia’s leadership lessons; proceeds go toward the scholarship fund.
“On the heels of this tragedy, we have something positive that honors Alexia’s legacy and the foundation we’re trying to build in PLP,” Johnson said. “It’s changing lives. She touched so many students, and because of her, they decided to change and live a more purpose-driven life.”
Rachel Cleveland, assistant director of PLP, said she hopes the scholarship fund continues to grow as a testament to Alexia’s impact on the program.
“Many alumni of the program have given to and promoted the fund, which just reminds us that our group is a family,” she said. “Alexia will always be a part of us.”
Pictured, Alexia Ardeleanu.