Dallas Marathon

Mary Parker JohnstonWant to know the best study break during finals week? The Dallas Marathon. This past semester, right in the middle of finals week, I found a very unusual way to procrastinate on my studying. Instead of waking up early to study, I woke up early to run 26.2 long, rainy miles. I have to be honest though, the marathon was a bit of a final itself. Let me give you a little background.

Last semester, I took a PRW (Personal Responsibility and Wellness) class called Beginning Marathon Training. The class was for “beginner” runners, and aimed to help students train for the Dallas Marathon, which was at the end of the semester. See? Kind of like a final. I had always dreamed of being able to run a marathon, but had never been able to find the motivation to do it by myself, so when I heard about the class, I thought, “Hey it’s now or never.”

Admittedly, there were times when I wondered what I got myself into, but after finishing, I would highly recommend the class to anyone even slightly interested. The class was an absolute blast! There was an awesome teacher and several fellow students to help motivate me. It kind of brought me back to my high school cross country days; it was like being on a little team!

Honestly, it is a fair amount of work. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. (Using that phrase literally and figuratively here), but let me just say, even though my legs may have felt like spaghetti the day after the race and physically walking to my Genetics final was pretty tough, nothing had made me feel more confident going into an exam than knowing I had finished a marathon the day before.

All that to say, SMU helped push me to do something I never thought I could do. I know that never could’ve accomplished this if I wasn’t at SMU, and I can’t wait to see what other amazing opportunities I find these next few years!

-Mary Parker Johnstone

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Two-Steps Ahead of the Game

Jack StudentBeing from California, I was at first unsure of how Texas culture would differ from my own personal experience. However, I came into college knowing that if I wasn’t failing, I wasn’t trying many new things and stretching myself. At first, I auditioned for the a-capella team, Southern Gentlemen. I unfortunately didn’t make the team, but I was not going to let this singular defeat dishearten me in my quest for assimilation. So I kept looking for a club or group to join. Then, I thought to myself, what would be the most Texan thing I could do… I know; I’ll join the country two-stepping team the Mustang Mavericks. I knew that it was going to be a challenge, as I have never danced competitively before, and certainly not two-stepped before. I show up to the auditions and I was very nervous. First of all, I had to dance with girls I don’t know in a partner setting. As a freshman, this can be a little daunting. I would like to say that I was super suave and cool but, of you have seen the scene form “Inside Out” where the boy’s head is freaking out when he has to talk to a girl, it was probably a lot like that.

At the tryouts, there were people who danced competitively in high school and were very familiar with two-stepping. This clearly did not relieve any anxiousness as I was already nervous about making the team, it didn’t help that I had stiff competition. Although I was nervous, the team couldn’t have been nicer to me throughout the entire tryouts, reassuring me that many of them never had any experience before either. Although it was a bit unbelievable because they were doing flips and all sorts of dance stunts, it was encouraging to know that I might be able to do this one day, too.

By the end of that day, I had made the team and was making new friends. It has been by far one of the most life changing experiences as I have made life long friends from Mavericks; I even was a groomsmen for a member’s wedding in Austin this year. I am so glad that I put myself out there and was not afraid to fail and because of that courage I have bettered my collegiate experience and made lasting friendships.

-Jack Student

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My Visit to the Meadows Museum

Taylor NickensWhenever I give a tour to students, I tell them that the Meadows School of the Arts is my favorite building on campus. As a Pre-Med student majoring in Health and Society and minoring in Spanish and Photography, I have an extremely busy schedule. My studies allow me to use both the left and the right sides of my brain and think both logically and creatively. I find so much comfort and happiness in the professors and classes I take in Meadows. From my background, it must be shocking to hear that despite my love for the Meadows School of the Arts, I had never visited SMU’s very own Meadows Museum until this semester. As a class trip, my Spanish class received a tour of the museum to get a real-life look at our studies of the history of art in Spain.

The entire museum is breathtaking. As I walked up the stairs to the entrance of the museum, I was greeted by one of the most impressive sculptures of a human face that I have ever seen. On its own, the sculpture has the ability to draw an audience into the museum due to its intricate design and impressive 3D form. Inside the museum, I got to see even more beautiful artwork, from very famous artists!

Having studied art for four years, it was extremely exciting to see the work of some of the most renown Spanish artists, such as Salvador Dali, El Greco, and Gaudi. Each original piece of work holds so much history and culture, and was only thirty steps from my classroom. SMU provides its students with the ability to learn about a topic, culture, and the importance of art in the world while in the classroom, and then provides tangible examples in our very own Meadows Museum.

After my initial with my Spanish class, I have returned to the museum three times. Two out of the three times I visited were to complete my original tour of the museum. The third time, however, was to appreciate the beauty and work along its perimeter. Along the outskirts of the museum is a beautiful garden filled with flowers and statues of a variety of materials with a variety of meanings. From the outside in, I can guarantee that SMU’s Meadows Museum has something to catch and hold everyone’s attention.

-Taylor Nickens

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A Friend in Every State

Emma Barr (2)“A friend in every state.” Although this is a slight exaggeration, it was a main selling point for me that SMU attracted students from all 50 states. When I stepped on campus my freshman year, the only people I knew were my roommate and the few friends I made at the Bay Area accepted students event. Many of my high school friends were going to school close to each other or even to the same university so I was nervous about making friends. I soon learned that many of my fellow SMU Freshmen were also far from home and didn’t come to college with a ton of high school friends. This evened the playing field and I can honestly say that the friends I’ve made at SMU have made me redefine friendship. Hailing from all over the country, I’ve loved learning about the regional differences in food preference, sports team heroes, slang and lifestyle. These are the people that bring me medicine when I’m sick, whom I study with until the early morning and explore Dallas with. I love getting to see where my best friends call home and the geographic diversity of the campus.Emma Barr (3)

I’ve had so many experiences with my friends here from all around the country. My roommate is from Plano and it’s nice to be able to occasionally drive twenty minutes from campus to go to her house to make cookies. This past summer, I went to Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco with my friend, Alex. She flew from Dallas and I was able to show her my high school and favorite restaurants at home. One of my best friends is from Oklahoma City and in September, three of my friends stayed at her house and visited the state of Oklahoma for the first time. This past spring break, I stayed at a friend’s house in Park City, Utah. We spent the weekend skiing and trying her favorite restaurants where we coincidentally ran into more SMU students. I’m already planning to visit one of my friends in Charleston this summer. Whether we live near or far, my friends and I have had so much fun visiting each other over breaks and during the summer. As cliché as it sounds, I love knowing I have a fellow Mustang to visit in every state.

-Emma Barr

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Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Kencell NixonAh, Spring Break. A time to kick back with your best friends on an exotic beach! Well usually. However this year I decided to spend my time in a more meaningful manner. I looked at potentially participating in a variety of service trips, and was almost all set to spend a week volunteering in New Orleans until I was contacted about an annual SMU trip called the “Civil Rights Pilgrimage!” The pilgrimage sounded like exactly what I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone and learn more about American history.

The trip was eight days in length, visiting different cities throughout the Deep South and fully immersing ourselves in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. We chartered a bus for the journey, and on March 4th we left the comfort of Dallas and traveled 7 hours to Little Rock, Arkansas to begin learning about “The Little Rock 9,” a group of 9 high school students who integrated Central High School in 1957, causing a national controversy. From Little Rock, we traveled to Selma, Alabama, home of the famous Voting Rights marches in 1965 led by Martin Luther King Jr. We ended up visiting a plethora of sights, museums, and exhibits in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee throughout the pilgrimage.

We visited a variety of museums and historical sites on the pilgrimage, but the most incredible part of the journey was definitely getting to interact with people who were actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Considering the events occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, many participants in the movement are still alive today and those we met were more than willing to share their stories with us. One incomparable woman we encountered in Selma was Joanne Bland, who marched with Dr. King and was beaten and jailed for seeking the right to vote when she was 11 years old! Another incredible man we met was 87 year old Robert Graetz, the only white minister to participate in the Montgomery Bus Boycott! Learning from people that were instrumental in creating positive social change was an absolutely invaluable experience!

My Spring Break was filled with 8 days of happiness, tears, education, passion, and a call to create a world of equality and love for all of Earth’s inhabitants. I may have missed out on the beach sun, but I certainly believe my decision was the right one!

-Kencell Nixon

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A Breakdown of SMU Sports: Division I to Intramural

Lauren ZabaletaIf you’re someone that has been super involved in sports in high school, it may be difficult to decide whether or not to pursue them on the Hilltop. As someone who was in a similar spot as you just three years ago, I can give you an inside scoop on all the incredible options available to you here at SMU.

Division 1 Teams: When I first came to SMU, I became a member of the Women’s Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams. If you are someone that is considering participating in Division 1 athletics even a little bit, I would highly recommend giving it a shot. Being a member of these teams remains one of the highlights of my college career, and it certainly helped to define the person that I am today. I had a blast, was challenged daily, and had the opportunity to become best friends with an incredibly driven and talented group of teammates from all over the world.

Club Teams: If you’re looking for something a little less intense than Division 1, club teams are perfect for you. While still competitive, the time commitment is significantly less. I joined the SMU Women’s Club Soccer team this fall and I loved getting an opportunity to play a sport I love again on a competitive stage.

Intramural Sports: If you have played sports somewhat in your life or are interested in playing a sport that you have never played before, intramural sports are the way to go. Intramural sports are a great way to bond with people from throughout the SMU community. It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran flag football player or have never held a basketball in your life- intramurals has a place for everyone! From sand volleyball to ping pong, there are so many ways to get involved and have fun.

As you can see, opportunities in sports are plentiful at SMU, and it’s just one way that I have chosen to get involved. Pony up!

-Lauren Zabaleta

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#SMUBound

04.16 Allie Rutherford 1Summer is rapidly approaching, and I can’t help but reflect upon when I finally made my decision to come to SMU. My father was practically jumping for joy knowing that one of his children decided to attend his alma mater. I, on the other hand was already getting those pre-freshmen nerves beyond belief. My everyday thoughts became a consistent cycle of “Did I make the right decision?” to “What if I don’t make any friends?” to “Why did I decide to go all the way to Texas? I hate flying!” and all the way back to the beginning again. Up until I arrived at SMU, my entire life existed in a small suburb north of New York City. I was terrified that once I left for Texas, my life would be forever changed—which it has been. If you asked me how I felt about this two years ago, you may have seen me shed a tear.

04.16 Allie Rutherford 2In July of 2014 I packed my bags up for AARO—SMU’s Academic Advising Registration and Orientation for first year students. I managed to push my nervous thoughts as far out of my mind as I could get them… that is until I heard the pilot say “We are now making our final descent into Dallas, Texas!” Upon arriving at campus, my parents had to practically push me out of the car. The next 48 hours consisted of picking classes, sitting in small groups playing icebreakers with students who seemed just as nervous as I was, and sitting in sessions learning about my future at SMU. Sounds like fun, huh? Well actually, it was! Those 48 hours also consisted of me standing behind a father and son who were teasing each other over the fact that they had accidentally worn the same outfit— then proceeding to become best friends with him; having my AARO leader tell me about all of the incredible things SMU had provided for her in only her first year there; and for the first time, feeling like I was finally home. Orientation combatted every single doubt that had previously filled my mind, and instead of dreading the end of summer, I began impatiently waiting for August to arrive.

During my first year, I recognized how much of an impact SMU’s orientation had on me, and I could not help myself from applying to become an AARO leader. Last summer, my best friend (the one who matched outfits with his dad at our own AARO!) and I spent our summer orientating the class of 2019 to the Mustang family. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world, hearing about the same nervous-excitement that I felt just a year before, and then watching them make friends and feel like they were finally home too. Since I’ve come to Texas, my life has been forever changed—but in the best way possible! Pony up!

-Allie Rutherford

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TACOOO!

Whether it’s date night with a special someone or late night with your friends, the key to a great night is great tacos, and Dallas is possible the greatest city in the country to fill all of your taco needs. We have taco joints all across the city with menus ranging from strictly authentic to creatively eclectic and everything in between. No Dallasite ever has to go unsatisfied. In coming to SMU, I took it upon myself to begin my quest for the perfect taco, but found that the perfect taco rests in what you’re in the mood for in that moment, so here are a couple of my favorite tacos spots to fill your taco needs.

Strictly Authentic: Fuel City Tacos

It doesn’t get much more authentic than Fuel City when it comes to tacos in Dallas. Fuel City is a gas station on the south side of downtown that took me about half an hour to find the first time I went, but rest assured, it was well worth it. The line outside the little window where they take orders always moves quickly, so make sure you have your cash ready to order some tasty Barbacoa and Al Pastor tacos (my personal favorites), and don’t forget to get a cup of the Mexican street corn! Once you’ve assembled your meal and bought drinks inside the gas station, I like to sit down at the picnic tables they have for patrons, chat with friends, and watch the exotic animals they keep in a pin next to the parking lot lounge in the shade. As a friend of mine put it, “Fuel City is worth it just for the experience,” but having some of the best tacos in the city helps too!

04.16 Steven Chamberlin 3

The Standard: Torchy’s Tacos

If I want a standard Tex-Mex taco, Torchy’s is my go to. Located on SMU Boulevard, not many taco restaurants can beat Torchy’s in terms of convenient access from campus. Their menu hosts a variety of tacos and breakfast tacos that, although I labeled as “standard,” are by no means standard in flavor or quality. Regardless of political views, I always recommend “The Democrat” for those as enthusiastic about Barbacoa tacos as I am, but one can’t go wrong with any menu item at Torchy’s. Speaking of menus, if you’re interested in mixing things up, ask your cashier to see the secret menu for some hidden treasures.

04.16 Steven Chamberlin 2

Creatively Eclectic: Velvet Taco

No matter what cuisine you’re in the mood for, Velvet Taco will have the taco for you. Their menu ranges from the Indian “Spicy chicken tikka” taco to the “Ahi Poke” taco, which substitutes a tortilla with a crisp leaf of lettuce filled with fresh tuna poke. If the diverse group of 23 tacos they offer isn’t enough for you, check out their awesome sides like “Red Coconut Curry Queso” and “Crisp Tots & Local Egg,” which sports bacon, goat cheese, smoked cheddar, and an avocado Creama sauce. Located on Henderson Avenue along highway 75, Velvet taco is fairly easily accessed from SMU by car. If you consider yourself a foodie, but down have a car, trust me when I say it’s worth the Uber!

04.16 Steven Chamberlin 1

– Stephen Chamberlain

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Rob Lowe at SMU & Other Amazing Speakers

04.16 Madeline CaseThe last thing that most students want to do when they get out of class on Tuesday afternoons is get ready to go to another lecture after dinner at 8pm. There is only one exception—one lecture that students (including myself) dress up for, make plans with friends for, and line up to get tickets for if they get the chance: the Tate Lecture Series.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, you mean a lecture where a bunch of old people sit around and discuss boring topics in front of an audience? Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, then think again. The Tate Lecture Series brings to SMU’s campus a variety of speakers, young, old, experts in a variety of fields, and all passionate about what they’re doing and willing to share it. Basically, our lecture series is like a fancier TED talk, once a month.

Going to these lectures has been one of the highlights of my time at SMU, and in just the two years that I’ve been here, I’ve had the opportunity to see Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Haas, Ken Burns, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Nate Silver, and even Rob Lowe (pictured above in the selfie that he took of himself in front of McFarlin Auditorium right before he went on stage). In the hours that I have spent in the presence of these influential people, I have learned so much about passion, dedication, creativity, tenacity, failure and success. Going to the Tate Lecture’s isn’t about hearing a laundry-list of these world changer’s awards and credentials. It’s about listening to their perspective on the fields they occupy and life in general. I frequently find myself taking notes during the lecture or writing down quotes to share with my friends later.

Having the opportunity to go to these lectures is an incredible opportunity that SMU students are fortunate to have, and I have done my absolute best to attend as many as possible. There’s something (or rather, someone) for everyone and I would encourage every SMU student to seize this opportunity as soon as they get to campus.

-Madeleine Case

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SMU-in-Copenhagen

03.16 Nikki CarenzaHello from Denmark! I’m officially halfway through my semester abroad in Copenhagen and I can’t believe how quickly my days here are flying by. These past two months have been an absolute blur of meeting new friends (from Danes to Americans to Jamaicans!), travelling all over Europe with my sustainability classes, and even climbing a wind turbine with my professor! While I’m here in Copenhagen I’m taking incredibly interesting classes pertaining to both my Environmental Studies and Finance majors at SMU. One of the most fascinating aspects of my program is having the opportunity to meet other American students from all across the US and hear everyone’s unique opinions. Of course, studying abroad means tons of travel and already I’ve been to 6 different countries and been able to experience such a wide array of cultures! Having caught the foodie bug in my first two years in Dallas, one of the best parts of being in Europe is trying all of the different cuisines; I’ve tried everything from tapas and sangria in Spain to pretzels and authentic beer in Germany.

I’ve had the most incredible experience getting the opportunity to study sustainability here in Copenhagen, a city that is consistently ranked one of the greenest cities in the entire world! It’s awesome to go running through the city and look over and see wind turbines lining the shore. Another one of my favorite ways to see the city is taking my bike out and riding through the many different neighborhoods of the city, always finding something new and exciting going on (just like in Dallas!). I’m so grateful I’ve had this opportunity to see so many new parts of the world and get to work towards completing my SMU degree at the same time. I’m loving my days abroad but also looking forward to returning to the Hilltop for many more Boulevards and Dallas days in the fall!

-Nikki Carenza

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