In the coming academic year, 37 SMU students from throughout the University will take on special projects of their own design in research, civic engagement, creative work and internships.
Three students conducted Unbridled Projects during the program’s first year in 2011-12. The new group represents a more than 1,100 percent increase in participation. As the initiative begins its second year, “we are right where we hoped to be,” says Director of Engaged Learning Susan Kress.
“We’re very excited for the students,” Kress adds. “The University has invested a lot of effort in raising awareness of the opportunities available through this initiative, and those efforts have paid off.”
The students are especially gratified to know that faculty members are interested in their work and support their efforts, Kress adds. “And at the same time, faculty members are excited that this ties in to the ‘engaged teaching and learning’ happening in their classrooms.”
Junior Kimberly Mendoza (left), a double major in biological sciences and chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College, can attest to the importance and inspiration of engaged faculty. For her Unbridled Project, she will research health-related traditions, beliefs and practices in the indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala and evaluate how these values and beliefs occasionally clash with Western medicine. Nia Parson of the Department of Anthropology will serve as her faculty mentor.
During her first year at SMU, Mendoza took Parson’s course “Health, Healing and Ethics,” which examines cross-cultural perspectives on sickness and society. “It was one of the best classes I have taken at SMU,” she says. “Dr. Parson gave me so much insight into health as viewed from different perspectives. She also was very passionate about her anthropological work and health in a global perspective.”
When Mendoza decided to pursue an Unbridled Project, “I immediately thought of Dr. Parson, and she was so helpful to me throughout the application process.”
Mendoza’s mother is of indigenous Maya origin, but fled her native Guatemala during the civil war in the 1970s. “As a result, she did not grow up learning the traditions, culture, values and language that bind this group of people together,” Mendoza says. When her maternal grandmother, also an indigenous Maya, received medical treatment in the United States for a malignant brain tumor, Mendoza experienced first-hand how strongly those traditions and values are upheld. “I also witnessed the dichotomy between my grandmother’s spiritual and traditional beliefs and the Western medical system,” she says.
Through her Unbridled Project, Mendoza seeks to understand how to better relate to those who hold such traditional values and beliefs, she says. She plans to become a physician with an emphasis in global health and hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders.
“It is an intellectual treat for me to mentor Kimberly,” Parson says. “As a medical anthropologist, specializing in Latin America, I know how important and interesting her project is – not only because it illuminates the different ways people experience and think about health in Guatemala, but also because of the implications of this knowledge for our own health care systems.”
Mendoza’s research could help in providing better care for Guatemalan and other immigrants here in Dallas, Parson adds. “It is very gratifying to see Kimberly bringing together her family’s ties to Guatemala and her educational experience here at SMU.”
The Office of Engaged Learning provides institutional support for SMU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), created as part of the University’s reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). “Engaged Learning Beyond the Classroom” allows all SMU undergraduate students to participate in at least one extensive experiential learning activity prior to graduation.
A full list of students who will pursue 2012-13 Unbridled Projects appears below the link.
Unbridled Projects, 2012-13
• Sophomore chemistry and mechanical engineering major Eric Alt will design a compound to remove heavy metals from polluted environments. His faculty mentor is Dieter Cremer, Chemistry, Dedman College.
• Senior journalism and human rights major Jan Anderson will explore segregation in churches in the post-Civil Rights era and current movements toward integration. Her faculty mentor is Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College.
• Senior Tanya Arora, a double major in psychology and management and organizations, will design a training program for colleges and universities to reduce the adverse effects of annual leadership change in student organizations. Her faculty mentor is Maribeth Kuenzi, Management and Organizations, Cox School of Business.
• Junior Jean Paul Destarac, a double major in economics and markets and culture, will travel to Belgium to research the European debt crisis and its relationship to a lack of Eurozone central fiscal authority. His faculty mentor is Thomas Osang, Economics, Dedman College.
• Senior communication studies major Brittany Dickey will visit London to analyze the impact of the 2012 Summer Olympics, as a major world event, on global human rights awareness. Her faculty mentor is Rita Kirk, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts, director of SMU’s Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility.
• Junior political science and communication studies major Roza Essaw will assess the human rights situation in post-genocide Rwanda through on-site interviews and research. Her faculty mentor is Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College.
• Junior Taylor Johnson, a double major in communication studies and applied physiology and sport management, will study how non-governmental organizations in London are using the Olympics as a springboard for publicity and awareness. Her faculty mentor is Owen Lynch, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior Andrew Lin, a double major in biological sciences and earth sciences, will compare the anatomy of SMU’s 17-million-year-old beaked whale fossil specimen with a modern beaked whale fossil at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His faculty mentor is Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, Dedman College.
• Junior journalism and earth sciences major Katharina Marino will visit the research station at Harvard Forest in Massachusetts to study its outreach program, with the goal of developing a similar program at the Great Trinity Forest in Dallas to record its ecological diversity. Her faculty mentor is Bonnie Jacobs, Earth Sciences, Dedman College.
• Junior earth sciences major Kathleen Masterson will map and record the tree fossils of the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Her faculty mentor is Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, Dedman College.
• Junior economics major Austin McBride will research undergraduate pre-law programs and, using a cost benefit model, will determine the correlation between student pre-law preparation and admission to law school. His faculty mentor is Ellen Pryor, Dedman School of Law.
• Junior mathematics major Justice Pirkey will undertake a toxicology study of Asian carp, an invasive species of fish prevalent in the Mississippi River. His faculty mentor is Yeo-Jin Chung, Mathematics, Dedman College.
• Sophomore communication studies major Basma Raza will research societal perceptions of herself as female, Muslim, married, and a student, to explore similarities within differences between cultures and ethnicities. Her faculty mentor is Owen Lynch, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior communication studies major Jacqueline Ross will investigate and tell the story of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic student’s experience as an undergraduate. Her faculty mentor is Owen Lynch, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior Michael Tran, a double major in mathematics and computer science and engineering, will research the feasibility of making the invasive species Asian carp a part of the U.S. food supply. His faculty mentor is Yeo-Jin Chung, Mathematics, Dedman College.
• Junior finance major Katie Ye will examine how female gender stereotypes influence upward communication in educational institutions. Her faculty mentor is John Sumanth, Management and Organizations, Cox School of Business.
• Junior Aden Abiye, who majors in economics and markets and culture, will work with the non-profit Advance Team Africa to design life skills training workshops for youth in Ethiopia. Her faculty mentor is Ne’Shaun Robinson Jones, director of TRIO Programs, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
• Junior art major Juan Castillo will implement a redesigned student leadership curriculum in the Irving Independent School District for high school Hispanic youth, and will design and paint a mural for the school. His staff mentor is Carol Clyde, director of SMU’s Community Engagement and Leadership Center.
• Sophomore mechanical engineering major Drake Frank will modify a stationary diesel engine to run on coconut oil and introduce it to Kenyan families to provide sustainable energy, working through the Kenyan Agriculture Commodity Exchange Ltd. His faculty mentor is Tindaro Ioppolo, Mechanical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering.
• Junior economics major Katie Jones will work with the nonprofit UBELONG and local farmers in Ecuador to develop sustainable solutions to restore the Amazonian ecosystem to its original balance. Her faculty mentor is Victoria Lockwood, Anthropology, Dedman College
• Junior political science major Jonathan Machemehl – through Boulevard PR, a firm created and operated by SMU members of the Public Relations Student Society of America – will help Get Healthy Dallas develop their community-health message to reach different audiences through various media. His faculty mentor is Steve Lee, Communication Studies, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior biological sciences and chemistry major Kimberly Mendoza will research health-related traditions, beliefs and practices in an indigenous Mayan community in Guatemala. Her faculty mentor is Nia Parson, Anthropology, Dedman College.
• Junior Pamela Nickell, a double major in Spanish and international studies, will develop pedagogical examination material and a study guide for the Spanish for Business Certification Program, a joint initiative by SMU and the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce. Her faculty mentor is Leticia McDoniel, World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College.
• Sophomore mechanical engineering major Richard Nixon will expand the student-driven Mustang Microfinance project, which began as a 2011 Big iDeas project. He plans to create business development workshops and microloan opportunities in the Vickery Meadow community. His staff mentor is Jim Bryan, interim director of B.B.A. admissions, Cox School of Business.
• Junior Spanish major Mayra Pratz will prepare a bilingual Spanish/English informational report and pamphlet based on her research on local Spanish-speaking immigrant women who suffer domestic violence. Her faculty mentor is Nia Parson, Anthropology, Dedman College.
• Junior Rachel Stonecipher, a double major in cinema-TV and anthropology, will volunteer at the No More Deaths aid camp in Arizona to learn about the social inequalities inherent in service-based work, research best practices, and develop training that addresses these issues. Her faculty mentor is Caroline Brettell, Anthropology, Dedman College.
• First-year student Ashley Wali will work with the Nari Project in Bangladesh to address the needs of women suffering from domestic violence. Her faculty mentor is Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College.
• Junior French major Miller Walker will develop and deliver an after-school French program for homeless children in the Dallas Independent School District and connect them with school children in France. His faculty mentor is Heather Pelletier, World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College.
• Junior theatre major Afomia Hailemeskel, during an internship with the Reading, PA Project, will collect the sounds of the town to create a performance piece about a community crippled by economic stagnation and the steps being taken to bring about change. Her faculty mentor is Gretchen Smith, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior theatre major Janielle Kastner will document adolescent and teenage girls from different socio-economic environments and create a short film about their lives during her internship with the Reading, PA Project. Her faculty mentor is Gretchen Smith, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior theatre major Miranda Parham will compare and contrast consumer culture and gender roles in the United States and England, and create a solo performance piece that captures her findings. Her faculty mentor is Rhonda Blair, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior music major Ethan Patrick will create a real-time music visualizer using Max 6 and processing software and use it during a live performance at the Conservatoire de Musique in Cannes, France. His faculty mentor is Ira Greenberg, Computer Science and Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, director of the Center of Creative Computation in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior English major Dylan Smith will write a novella based on his time at the SMU-in-Taos campus in Summer 2012 and publish it as an eBook. His faculty mentor is David Haynes, English, Dedman College.
• Junior Bryce Johnson, a double major in Spanish and markets and culture, and an intern with the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, will develop the Spanish for Business Certification Program, a joint SMU/Chamber initiative. His faculty mentor is Leticia McDoniel, World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College.
• Sophomore management and political science major Jaywin Malhi will intern on Capitol Hill in Senator John Cornyn’s and Congressman Pete Sessions’ congressional offices to learn about policy-making. His faculty mentor is Michael Lusztig, Political Science, Dedman College.
• Sophomore art history major Sarah Montonchaikul will learn conservation techniques and document her learning as project instructional materials during her internship with the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project in Italy. Her faculty mentor is Greg Warden, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts.
• Junior anthropology and French major Marissa Ocampo will intern with La Isla Foundation to research a chronic kidney disease epidemic among sugar cane workers in Nicaragua. Her faculty mentor is Carolyn Smith-Morris, Anthropology, Dedman College.