Family Weekend on the Hilltop

By Liz Dubret

This past weekend at SMU was Family Weekend and one of my favorite weekends in the fall!  We are more than half way through the semester and everyone is missing a tiny bit of home.  So it is nice to have friends and family come spend a weekend seeing all that SMU has to offer.  The University provides many different opportunities for families from the Talent Show to campus tours and everything in between.  But as a senior, my parents felt like they had seen and done it all and just wanted to spend time with me.  So I spent Friday night at a dinner with my friends and our parents – of course we made them take us somewhere nicer than Cane’s!  And then we all went to hangout to eat desserts and listen to a  live band.  It was fun to see the parents and their kids eating cupcakes and goofing off out on the dance floor.  Saturday we all woke up extra early for the Boulevard and to go support the Mustang Football team.  I took my parents to the Lyle School of Engineering tent to meet my professors and then walked them all over campus to continue to meet my friends and their parents.  We then went to Ford Stadium to watch the game.  And even though it is October, it was still scorching hot and my mom and I left at the very end with sun burned noses.  To end all of the commotion of the past 24 hours, my parents and I finally relaxed on Greenville at Steel City Pops before calling it quits for the night.  It was a great end to four years of Family Weekends and I think my parents can honestly agree that SMU has been a great place for me and I sure know that they have enjoyed visiting!

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Friends, Fun, and Fried Food!

burned155632-300x450By Taylor Corrigan
Every year the great state of Texas looks forward to the State Fair of Texas: fun rides, games, and every kind of fried food you can imagine. Since its first year, back in 1886, the State Fair serves not only as an annual event celebrated with friends and family here in Texas, but visitors come from all over the nation to experience the fun tradition and to truly get a sense of Texas pride,  most notably with the fair’s beloved icon, Big Tex. This year, the State Fair of Texas not only had record-breaking numbers for attendance and sales in food and rides, but it just finished as the most successful year in the event’s 128 year history!
Last year I went to the State Fair for the first time, and I had never experienced anything like it! Similar to other state fairs, except everything at this was bigger and better; the fair spans 277 acres and is the largest state fair in Texas. The fair grounds are also an important part of the iconic event and is both a Dallas and National Historic monument. Boasting of its size in land, it is also home to the largest ferris wheel in North America. Keeping true to the mantra of Texas, everything at the State Fair of Texas really is bigger!
Now, everyone knows that it wouldn’t be a state fair without tons of fried food, and this fair has plenty of it!! This fair is notorious for having the most extreme menu: fried Sriracha balls, deep friend “breakfast for dinner,” fried guacamole, fried bacon cinnamon roll, fried PB & J, and even friend butter. And of course all the other typical state fair foods are there too: corn dogs, funnel cakes, candied apples, and ice cream. It may not be the healthiest night of your weekend, but it sure will be the tastiest!
This year when I went to the fair, I rode one of the largest ferris wheels, won a stuffed animal prize, took a picture next to Big Tex, and ate fried macaroni and cheese — I’d say it was a successful fair too!  While the fair is a hit every year, it turned out to be an even bigger hit this year, celebrating all things Texas, and I can’t wait to go back again next year!
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SMU Abroad: Bali, Indonesia

By Sarah Woodruff

Last summer (2013) I decided to do something out of my comfort zone and out of the United States. I went and studied in Bali, Indonesia for three weeks with 12 other students. I had an experience of a lifetime and ended up catching the travel bug, which ended in me to wanting to study abroad again. So this summer (2014) I studied abroad again, but this time in South Africa. I received 6 credit hours in just four weeks while having the time of my life.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.09.59 PMThe trip started out with two 12-hour flights, a 12-hour layover in London, and at least 6 movies; however, once we reached Durban, South Africa the only thing on my mind was to get out and explore. We spent the first three weeks of the trip exploring Durban, going on a Safari, and meeting friends…all of course while still studying for class. ☺ One of the classes was a musical theatre course. We spent three weeks in SA working with world-renowned director and dancer, Roger Riggle, and SMU professor Barbara Hill-Moore, to join forces with the students from the University of Kwazulu-Natal to produce CAROUSEL. It was really neat to have both students from SMU and students from UKZN joining together to produce a musical. In addition to the musical theatre course, all of the SMU students also took a Women & Minorities in the media course with Professor Karen Thomas.  It was really neat to compare how different minorities are portrayed in the media in the US versus in South Africa. We also had a day where we studied Beyoncé and feminism, which was really neat because a lot of the UKZN students were fascinated with Beyoncé. I was even able to pick up on a few important phrases in Xhosa and Afrikaans from the UKZN students!

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.09.44 PMSome major highlights from our first few weeks in Durban:

  1. Coming within a few feet of at least 15 elephants
  2. Losing hope that I wouldn’t see a zebra on the safari and then turning a corner and seeing 5 cross the road in front of our jeep
  3. Having a monkey trying and take my banana at lunch
  4. Riding to the top of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadium

After three weeks of studying and working hard, while still having a ton of fun and going on a Safari, we flew to Cape Town for a week of relaxation. In Cape Town we got to do normal touristy things like learn about Nelson Mandela, visit District Six and Robben Island, and ride to the top of Table Mountain. Our four short weeks came to a close and we spent another 36 hours of flying back to the USA, but it was all worth it. I will always have the wonderful memories and friends that I made in SA and am really looking forward to the day that I can go back and visit!

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Enjoying the Music at Meadows

By Shannon Conboy

SMU is a fantastic place to be for a number of reasons, but my favorite aspect of the school is probably the accessibility given to all students for enjoying beautiful art, music, and shows, while at the same time offering students in these areas of study experience in sharing their talents.

As a Voice major in the Meadows school, I have the awesome opportunity to participate in ‘Opera-Free-for-Alls.’ These are performances in the middle of the Bob Hope Lobby during lunch, in which the SMU Opera Ensemble performs for anyone who wants to watch.

For our most recent show, each Opera Ensemble member sang one minute of a song or aria, so there was a little taste of everything. The show is open to all and is an exceptional opportunity for us as performers as well as for students who’ve never been exposed to such music to have the opportunity to enjoy it for free!

This week, you can expect to see an extremely large crowd packed into the Meadows Lobby as the dance department performs their ‘Brown Bag’ show! Or, stop by on Halloween to see the opera ensemble’s next Opera Free for All performance themed “All tricks, no treats,” in which all the scenes performed will involve some sort of trickery or scheming.

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Leading the Charge on Commons Development

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.02.54 PMBy Kaleb Lee

This summer I did some research abroad with the Residential Commons Leadership Corps. In July of 2014, SMU flew me and six other members of the RCLC out to Oxford and Cambridge to conduct res earch on behalf of the new residential commons model. It was an amazing experience. We toured more than 8 different colleges at Oxford and really learned about their inclusion of faculty in the residence.Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.03.07 PM

We were able to meet up with the student studying abroad as a part of the SMU-in-Oxford program, which was absolutely incredible! We attended “High Table” lecture and dinners with them and were able examined their classroom and residential structure and see how it was both similar and dissimilar to SMU. We lived on campus at Oxford for about ten days. It was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to go back to London and see the city, away from the college campus.

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Discovering Dallas: Fair Friendly Friday

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.14.47 PMBy Kelsey Buttrell

This past week, I put on my favorite pair of red cowboy boots and walked over to the DART station to make my way to the Texas State Fair. This was my second time attending the fair while being at SMU, and it was as entertaining as I remember. The key is to go during the day on a weekday, so it is not too crowded. The DART let us off right in front of the entrance gate, and we got our tickets. While I was there, we roamed around looking for what we wanted to eat. This was quite the process. There was absolutely everything, and when I say everything I mean everything fried. They had fried diet coke, fried thanksgiving meal, fried snickers and fried enchiladas. I ultimately decided to try one fried treat: the fried pumpkin pie. As crazy as this sounds, it was simply delicious. Then, we walked around to the petting zoo where I got to feed a llama and I rode the Ferris wheel that had the most spectacular view of Dallas. It was definitely an amazing adventure and a great break to this busy week. If you have not visited the Texas State Fair yet you have to go! There is nothing quite like it.

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Academic Spotlight: Wellness at SMU

By Whit Rasmussen

For the UC curriculum, every student is required to complete a physical wellness course. Walking, fencing, ping-pong, triathlon and basketball are just a few of the many classes to choose from. For my wellness credit, I decided to check off a bucket list item and signed up for marathon training. I couldn’t hide the sense of accomplishment when I added the class to my upcoming semester list. That is, until I actually realized signing up for the class meant running 26.2 miles. For any cross country or track runners out there, 26.2 miles might not seem too daunting. For a mildly in-shape College sophomore just looking to check off a bucket list item, every long weekend run felt like finals week all over again.

1391806_222872844556486_2011383281_nTo this day, almost a year after my marathon training, I attribute all of our class’s success to our professor, David Bertrand. Professor Bertrand educated, trained and inspired us through the grueling 3-month training program. Even though the class only met two times a week, we obviously had to train much more. Professor Bertrand often sacrificed a great deal of his time every week to schedule outside training runs, provide nutrition and training advice, or just hang out and have a good time.

As the weeks flew by and the marathon date moved closer and closer, what once seemed like a distant, unrealizable goal – to run 26.2 continuous miles – now seemed entirely possible. The sore legs, blistered feet and mental exhaustion became more and more bearable – our small class of 11 runners could feel the excitement looming. We were about to become marathoners! The final days leading up to the race seemed to take an eternity. Could we actually finish? In the end, the marathon was canceled due to the “icepocalypse” ice storm in December 2013. We were all clearly upset, we couldn’t achieve our final goal, 26.2 miles now seemed farther away than ever. Less than an hour after receiving the fateful email from the race directors, informing us of the cancelation, Professor Bertrand sent a follow up. It is hard to sum up an experience like training for a marathon in college with 11 other students, but Professor Bertrand’s email did just that. He reminded us of the amazing feat we had all accomplished.

Every runner in the class was prepared for that race and I have no doubt we all would have finished the race. Professor Bertrand reminded us that the race is not what mattered. The class was all about the experience of training for a marathon and succeeding. We all completed the training; all grew extremely close as friends and would never forget the lessons learning during that 3-month span. To this day, I remain in contact with everyone in my class and Professor Bertrand. The 11 runners in my class embody what is true of so many SMU students – we are ambitious, dedicated and committed to helping each other succeed. Marathon training wellness class is just one of an endless amount of examples. When you come to visit campus, ask other students to share their stories and I’m sure you will hear something very similar. If you choose to make SMU your home for the next four years, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Pony Up!

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What are FiRs for?

By Quincy Schurr

This year marks the first year that each residential commons has a Faculty in Residence (FiR) living in the building. While it might seem a bit strange to have a SMU faculty member and their family live in your building, our FiRs are going above and beyond to provide an experience to make each student’s residential commons a home away from home. One of the benefits of having FiRs is that students are able to develop a relationship with faculty members who they may not have met otherwise since the FiRs come from a variety of areas of study.

IMG_1722The FiRs have come up with creative ways to bring their communities together. For example, some of the FiRs have Sunday Night Snacks; students come to chat about their week while eating cookies, muffins, and other treats baked by the FiR. Last year, my FiR hosted “Potter and Pancakes” which was my favorite event, because who wouldn’t like to be served a pancake breakfast while watching Harry Potter? My current FiR invites the students in my building over every Sunday morning to make our own smoothies and hang out with him and his family.

I love attending all these events because it is a great opportunity to get to know other students in my building outside of the classroom. It is great to meet other students who live on different floors and the FiR’s residence becomes our community meeting area. I feel like the FiRs act as our community leader and they set the tone for the interactions of our commons. The other great thing about these events is that I get to know a faculty member in a casual setting and see him in his daily life.  I think this helps students feel less intimidated when dealing with our professors and staff.  It is a reminder that they are real people too, with lives and interests away from their professions!

An added bonus of having the FiRs living with us is that many of them live with their family, including children and pets.  A few minutes of cuddling with the resident pup, or singing silly songs with a 5 year old can really reduce stress and distract you from homework, studying and deadlines. It definitely makes our residence feel more like a home.

Many of us really enjoy our newly gained freedom once we move to the dorms, and relish the independence that comes with moving away from home.  However, I think that it is reassuring to know that there is a responsible adult just downstairs whom we can turn to if needed, not just as a professor, administrator or an adult, but as a friend.

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Mustang for the Win

By Alex Porter

In between classes and social life here at SMU, there are many opportunities to become involved in clubs sports and other intramurals. I was looking around for a club to join that I could apply my swimming and track background to. DSCN0789While looking for a club last semester, I took a PRW (Personal Wellness and Responsibility) class called Intermediate Triathlon. SMU offered training within this class to take a student who has never thought about doing a triathlon race to the level where they can complete a sprint triathlon! It seemed like the right place to look.

(Photo of Alex and fellow Mustang, Geoff Lowe. Taken after completing a triathlon in the Spring)

Since taking that class last semester, I have gone crazy for doing triathlons! I have completed two sprint triathlons, the second of which I finished second in the collegiate level which was a fantastic feeling. I am currently training for my first Olympic distance triathlon which is in a couple of months. Aside from a back injury that is currently holding me back, I feel very confident that I will smash the race! I am doing the event with the SMU triathlon club team that is supported by the Student Senate, who helps us to be able to compete. I’ll do my utmost to represent the Mustangs as best as I can and hopefully be able to bring back a medal.

 

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SMU & TCU: The Battle for the Iron Skillet

IMG_1188By Nikki Carenza

It’s no secret there is an epic rivalry between SMU in TCU. Therefore whenever we meet in sports everyone comes out to show support for their team. This year SMU hosted TCU for the annual football game rivalry. I was especially looking forward to this event because my entire family decided to come down and visit me! I was so excited to host my family in Dallas for the weekend and show them how spirited SMU students and alums are. At SMU it’s a tradition before every football game that SMU students, alums, and family gather from the top of Dallas Hall lawn all the way to the end of the boulevard and celebrate before the game.

The boulevard is lined with tents and everyone comes out dressed in SMU colors to show support for the team and get excited for the game! My family decided to get a tent on the Boulevard for the first time ever for this years TCU game so we would all have a place to gather and invite friends to stop by. Anticipation began building all through campus during the week before the game and by Friday everyone could barely contain their excitement! The game was set to start at 11 a.m., which meant everyone was getting geared up for a very early morning boulevard at 8 a.m.

The day finally came and we went out to the boulevard to be greeted with tons of people, music and food. Everyone was having a great time and the TCU fans even joined us on the boulevard! It was so fun meeting up with friends who go to TCU and showing them how SMU does game day. Around 11 my grandpa and I headed over to the stadium and took our seats to watch the mustangs and horned frogs compete. The stadium was packed with SMU and TCU fans, everyone excited to see the two teams compete in their rivalry.

The game flew by and although TCU ended up beating us it was still such a fun game showing my family all the traditional cheers and songs at SMU! The day was a blur of fun with family and friends but my grandpa put it perfectly when he said “Well they certainly know how to do football in Texas!” Boulevarding is just one of my favorite SMU traditions that all collectively make my time at SMU that much more unique and exciting!

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