Comfort Zones: People Watching on Campus

IMG_5121By Tien Dang

This is my favorite place on campus to people watch. From here, you can see couples coming together, friends leaving in different directions, that dude who’s always long boarding everywhere, the cliques that students separate themselves into. On cloudy days, you can see where the ground ends and the sky begins. On clear days, it looks like the sky goes on for trillions of miles. I catch myself sitting here daydreaming more often than not.

(Picture: Dallas Hall lawn and Dallas skyline as seen from the third floor of Dallas Hall)

The view of the Dallas skyline is a constant reminder of where I come from, and where I want to go. When I am discouraged, when I am happy, when I just want to think, this is the spot that I choose to go to. Sometimes, there are people who enjoy the view just as much as I do sitting there, reflecting on their thoughts. I think it’s beautiful when both of us sit together, private in our thoughts, but sharing in the beauty of what we have been blessed with. SMU may lack a lot of things, but it also runs rich with much more. People watching tells you a lot about others but it also provides a lot of insight into you.

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SMU Abroad: The Oxford Experience

By Caroline Gurley

This past summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Oxford, England.  This was one of my greatest memories of college thus far.  I studied in Oxford with around eighty other SMU students and we had a fantastic time.  I took two classes completely outside of my major while I was there.  I am an Electrical Engineer and I took two classes that focused on antiquity.  I know more about Greek and Roman culture than I ever thought I would!  An SMU professor taught one of these classes while an Oxford tutor taught the other.  This allowed all of the students to see the difference between higher education in England and higher education in the U.S. carolinePersonally, I had a great experience with both professors, but I developed a relationship with my SMU professor that I hope will continue throughout my time at SMU.

(Picture of Caroline taken at Blenheim Palace in the United Kingdom)

Of course I learned an enormous amount academically, but I learned even more about myself.  I found a new confidence in myself that I never would have gotten in the U.S.  After my luggage got lost and credit card got compromised, I thought I was going to get on the next plane to the U.S.  I stuck it out, handling both problems with limited communication with my parents, and learned that I can handle a lot more than I thought.

Studying abroad was the best decision that I have made at SMU.  I learned just as much about myself as I did about the subjects that I was studying and the culture I was absorbing.

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Songs From (and for…) the Heart

heartBy Nadine Kakish

One of the first groups I got involved in at SMU was the female a cappella group on campus, the SMU Belle Tones. I have had the time of my life singing alongside 15 amazingly talented ladies, and we have had so many opportunities to sing at some incredible events, like the SMU Men’s Basketball game, Dining with Decision Makers, and others, some of which were even attended by former President Bush!

This past weekend on September 13th, we were able to sing at the American Heart Association’s annual Dallas Heart Walk! Despite the unseasonably cold and rainy morning, this was such a humbling experience as we were performing in front of nearly 70,000 people! We were asked to sing a short set of songs as well as the national anthem, where we were joined by SMU’s male a cappella group, the Southern Gentlemen. Not only was singing at such a large-scale event an amazing start to my Saturday morning, but also a surprise run-in with SMU Men’s Basketball coach Larry Brown was the cherry on top of my day. I absolutely love being able to attend a school where such incredible opportunities are presented to me and I had a fantastic morning at the Dallas Heart Walk!

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Planning Park N’ Party

BParknParty8-650x433y James Jang

I had found out a few months ago that I had been given the position of Programming Chair for Program Council, a student organization at SMU that focuses on fun campus-wide events, and I was in charge of a huge on-campus event called Park N’ Party. I had planned events before, and I was fairly confident that this event would be no different. Then, my adviser informed me that my budget was $13,000. I was in shock for the next 5 minutes! I had never planned an event that had a budget of over $2,000, and here I was, a college first-year at the time, being put in charge of a $13,000 event.

I was given complete creative freedom to do whatever I wanted with the event. It was amazing. Finally, after months of planning and some crazy weeks leading up to this event, it finally came together. This event represents months of hard work, and I would have never thought I would ever have been able to do something like this. I suppose this is the norm at SMU though… amazing opportunities and incredible experiences!

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Moody Magic, Volleyball Style

moodyBy William O’Connor

Last weekend, a group of my friends and I went to the SMU Women’s Volleyball game against OU in Moody Coliseum. The atmosphere was great; a number of students attended the game, and the Dallas community was very well represented, too. My friends and I know a few girls on the team, so we had a ton of fun cheering them on as they battled the Sooners.

The game got off to a pretty rough start. The first team in a volleyball game to win 3 sets to 25 points wins the game, and OU started the game by winning each of the first two sets by more than 10 points. After those two sets the teams headed to the locker room. I don’t have any idea what happened in there, but the Mustangs looked like a new team after the break. We went on to win not one, not two, but three sets in a row, each by 2 points, to win the game! After the game, to continue the tradition that started last year during basketball season, my friends and I headed off to Raising Cane’s chicken for a delectable post-game celebration meal.

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Building Spirit at the RC Olympics

larryBy Alex Hibbard

Earlier this month SMU had its first annual RC Olympics, and I was lucky enough to attend. I was participating in the Olympics for the McElvaney Residential Commons.  The event started at 3:00 as all of the Commons gathered at Prescott Field.  The open ceremony was full of games, guest speakers, and chants.  Larry Brown was one of the speakers at the event and I was lucky enough to get a picture with him prior to his speech.

(Picture: Alex Hibbard and JP Preisser take a photo with Basketball coach Larry Brown at the RC Olympics)

After the opening ceremony, the teams went to Dedman Fitness Center where the games began.  Games in the RC Olympics ranged from bubble soccer to cup stacking and battleship to rock paper scissors.  At the end of the night, the teams went outside to the volleyball courts where we played dodge ball.  The overall winner of the RC Olympics was Boaz Residential Commons.  Although McElvaney did not place, we had an awesome time and I am looking forward to next year!

The Residential Commons system at SMU has really transformed residence life thus far.  More students living on campus have really boosted school spirit.  The Residential Colleges have all had hall dinners and unique traditions and programs.  It has only been three weeks of school, but I am so excited to see SMU head in this new direction!

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Mustang Corral 2014: Who Will Win the Commons Cup?

mustang corralBy Carlyle Reid

This year I got to re-live my experience at Mustang Corral as a leader. Mustang Corral is a summer orientation camp for all incoming First-Years to SMU. I was a leader for incoming students to my Residential Commons, Loyd Commons. The entire three days were spent competing for points towards the Commons Cup, a “Harry Potter”-like competition between all of the eleven Residential Commons, where at the end of the semester, one commons will reign supreme and receive the Cup rights for the year.

(Picture taken at “Club Corral”, a dance party on the last night of Mustang Corral)

All of SMU was divided into three different camps. The Commons attending my camp were Armstrong, Crum, Virginia-Synder, and Loyd. We played games ranging from Commons Trivia (trivia about SMU), Capture-the-Commons (Capture the Flag), to the Rotunda Games (a fun field day). In addition to games for points towards the Commons-Cup, students are also put into small groups of about 12-16 students led by a leader from their Commons, where they do a variety of activities and get any questions about SMU answered. Unfortunately, Loyd did not win the weekend’s points, but we did come up with some awesome cheers and songs that we will continue to sing forever. We also developed a top secret hand-sign (make an L with your Pointer and Middle Finger sticking together for the L).

I loved being a leader at Mustang Corral because I got to know many students who are living with me in my Residential Commons this year. It was also fun to see incoming first years getting to know each other. Over 90% of incoming first-years attend Mustang Corral, so it is a great way for First-Years to make friends! In spite of the rivalries with other commons, we also got to know people in other Commons.

The picture attached shows my favorite event at Mustang Corral, to me, really shows SMU’s community. The last night at camp, we have “Club Corral,” where we play music and dance. The whole camp had glow sticks, and we were having so much fun dancing, that we had to cut off the dancing at 1 AM (sadly, we had to get up to leave the next day at 8 AM). I had so much fun and hope to go to Mustang Corral again next year, because you can never get too much of SMU!

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moody magicBy Jacqui Jacoby

Early last semester, my RA called me around 8:00 pm and said, “Do you want to do something spontaneous?” Due to my self-diagnosed condition of Fear of Missing Out, I replied with an excited yes, completely unaware of what would soon become an SMU tradition. She asked me to camp out for basketball tickets with her, just to say we did it. When we got there, there were only two other tents, and hardly anyone cared enough to wait in line all night in the freezing February weather for tickets that they could just pick up in the morning. A small group of us hung out, played guitar, sang songs, told stories, did homework, and had an overall memorable experience. Little did we know that camping out would become an absolute necessity with the increasing and sudden success of our men’s basketball team.

Larry Brown joined SMU last year as our new head coach for basketball, which was a huge deal considering the fact that he is the only man in the world to have led a team to victory in both an NBA and an NCAA championship. He’s known as “the Godfather” in the basketball world because virtually every coach in the NBA or NCAA has worked with Coach Brown, and he somehow knows everyone. This affectionate nickname led to the formation of a student spirit group called The Mob, which I joined last semester. We get tickets in the best section of the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum, section 112, right behind the players and right across from where George and Laura Bush sit. Last semester, our team was good. And then we got better. And then we were so amazing that Moody started to sell out. Throughout this process, camping out for basketball tickets became a sort of tradition among almost all SMU students. The second time I camped out, I was about ten tents back from the ticket booth, and the line wrapped all the way around the building within a few hours. People brought couches, TVs, tables, sound systems, and so much more. I was blown away by the school spirit and unity that the basketball team was bringing to campus. By the next campout, there were news crews and cameras everywhere, and Larry Brown personally handed us donuts and orange juice in the morning. There was a line that stretched all the way around the building, going far beyond the last two campouts combined, with a sign at the front of the line that said “Larrybrownville”.

Although we didn’t make it to the NCAA championship, we made it to the NIT championship, and the journey that we took as a supportive student body was incredible. From camping out to dressing up as a blue squid for games to having a student ticket worth over $1,000.00 (had I sold it – which I didn’t) for the game against Louisville, the 2014 basketball season was something that I will never forget – and I don’t think SMU will either.  I was beyond thankful to have participated in this new aspect of SMU, and I can’t even imagine how crazy basketball season will be next year!

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Another Year on the Hilltop

2018By Ryan Herrscher

Hi everyone! In case you are just tuning in to news from the Hilltop, classes ramped up this week after an exciting 2014 Mustang Corral experience. We all had some great summers with awesome opportunities, but I think I speak for all the ambassadors when I say we are thrilled to be back on campus!

(Picture: Class of 2018 coming together for their class picture before their first day of class)

Now that we are getting back into the swing of things we will resume regular posting on this blog to give you some insight into life at SMU. However, to get the full experience we definitely recommend coming to visit so one of us can take you on a tour and show you around.

Now that we have welcomed the class of 2018 into the SMU family (check out that awesome class picture…), we are already looking for the people who will turn that eight into a nine and make up the class of 2019. That could be you in just one short year!

Until then, we look forward to keeping you updated and can’t wait to see you on campus!


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An Open Letter: My SMU Experience

By Michael Saunders

Hey guys my name is Michael Saunders and I am a senior double majoring in Philosophy and Spanish!  I am a Resident Assistant in the Hilltop Scholars Community and an active member on the Cheer team and Hip Hop Club.  This semester has absolutely flown by, partly because every semester seems to, and partly because the job hunt, along with the rigorous training the Cheer team goes through as they prepare for College Nationals, are making it a little challenging to look up and watch the weeks pass by rather than race through each day with no concept of time!  I am having an incredible time, though, and am so grateful for all of the opportunities that this University has made available to me.  Whenever I have time to catch my breath in between classes and extracurriculars, I have a tendency to reflect on some of the many things I have been able to do since enrolling at SMU in the fall of 2010: Open for B.o.B, Study abroad in Madrid, the Hawaii Bowl, being introduced to President Bush, being there for as students stormed the court after our basketball team beat #7 Cincinnati in Moody.  These are only a few of the MANY stories and I can’t help but recognize that it has been an incredible ride and I know it is still far from over!  What happens next? Who knows!  I know that I certainly do not, but I can assure you that I am looking forward to the future and will do everything in my power to make a positive impact on this world.

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