Endless Opportunities on Campus and in the City

Shannon ConboyIt’s Monday, and I’m reminiscing about my weekend, feeling incredibly lucky. Not only did I spend time doing what I love for my major, but I also had an incredible city to experience on my rehearsal breaks!

I’m a senior Vocal Performance major, and rehearsals for the opera are in full swing. Next week, I will perform a role in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” in front of family, friends, teachers, and colleagues. To have this opportunity and experience as an undergraduate is something I’ve only dreamed about. Meadows Opera Ensemble hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since early January. Each evening that I’m rehearsing, I count my lucky stars that I’m part of such a wonderful production with such hard-working and talented people. I’m really getting to experience what my life will be like pursuing a career in an opera company, and I love it.

Saturday, a day off from rehearsals, I was able to enjoy my time in the city. I started the day off with brunch at Fernando’s, getting my Tex-Mex and scrambled egg fix, and running into multiple SMU friends. After a much needed lazy afternoon, I was surprised by a friend with tickets to a Stars game! He had gotten them through his internship, as he is a Finance Major in Cox. Stoked, we donned as much green clothing as possible and headed to the American Airlines center. After an evening full of stadium hot-dogs and friends, a Stars loss didn’t even faze me. I returned home content as could be.

As a senior, I guess I’m beginning to appreciate these little things more and more. I have had endless opportunities in my four years here and I look back on each with such fondness! I’m singing opera, building up my experiences, and preparing myself for a successful post-grad life, but I’m also living in the greatest city and taking advantage of all Dallas has to offer. I’m not sure what more I could ask for, except to do it all over again.
Here’s to the next few months of my time here being the best yet.

-Shannon Conboy

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5 Ways to Stay Healthy at SMU

02.16 Jacqui JacobyI’m sure you’ve heard the term “Freshman 15” joked about before, but let me tell you something: the Freshman 15 is real. That is, unless you learn how to stay healthy in college. Here are a few tips for staying active and eating right at SMU:

1. Walk the Katy Trail
When you get to SMU, one of the most popular outdoor spots, besides Klyde Warren Park (a park in the middle of downtown Dallas on an overpass), is the Katy Trail. Spanning 3.5 miles from just off of SMU’s campus all the way to downtown Dallas, this walking, jogging, and biking path is perfect for a nice fall or spring day. Grab a friend, jog a few miles, and forget all about being in a metropolitan area! If you go on a Saturday or Sunday morning, you can even stop by some brunch spots in Uptown, like Katy Trail Icehouse, Eatzi’s, or Breadwinners. Also, rumor has it that the former Bachelor contestant, Sean Lowe, jogs the Katy Trail every morning around 6 or 7 AM… maybe you’ll jog past him!

2. Eat at “Healthy on the Hilltop”
I live in Virginia Snider hall, which happens to be the closest residential commons to Umphrey Lee Dining Center, AKA “Umph”. Like I said, the Freshman 15 is real. In order to stay healthy with my diet, I frequent the “Healthy on the Hilltop” line, which features gluten-free, vegan, and health-conscious meals every day! If I can’t find anything there, I can always ask the dining staff to put some chicken or fish on the grill and grab myself a salad from the always-stocked salad bar.

3. Go to GroupX Classes at Dedman
For the first two weeks of every fall semester, Dedman Rec makes all of its GroupX fitness classes completely free! This is a great opportunity to take sunrise yoga, pilates, insanity, zumba, or spin classes and figure out which ones get you the most excited about hitting the gym. You can pay $4 per class or buy an unlimited pass for only $75 – well worth the money, especially since you don’t have to pay anything extra to have a membership to Dedman, anyway!

4. Grab Your Quick Lunches at The Market
If you’re ever in a hurry to fit lunch into your busy schedule, it can be tempting to make ramen or grab some junk food. Thanks to The Market, a grab and go convenience store in the student center with a sushi and salad bar inside, your quick lunches can still be healthy! You can get a make-your-own salad at The Wedge or even customize your own sushi roll at Sushic. Either way, load up on veggies and cut down on fried things and you’ll be good! The Market also sells healthy and gluten free microwave meals for quick lunches in the future!

5. Have Fun Working Out with Friends
Other than the Katy Trail and GroupX classes at Dedman, there are so many ways to stay fit with friends at SMU! Climb the rock climbing wall in Dedman (for free!), play some sand volleyball, run around the soccer field, visit White Rock Lake, or get creative and find a studio in Dallas. If you never want to leave campus to find a good work out, SMU is the perfect place for you!

-Jacqui Jacoby

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Traditions at the Residential Commons

02.16 Evan GiacominiOn February 6, SMU had its own version of Mardi Gras in the form of Krewe de Ware. Each year the Residential Commons system has the unique opportunity to sponsor different events throughout the semesters on campus. With the new housing system in place, and thriving, Ware commons was able to throw an event that brought a little bit of New Orleans to our school here in Dallas that paralleled the celebrations going on one state over.

Flyers and posters had been circulating campus for a couple weeks now and the attendance was great. Complete with an array of green, yellow, and purple decorations, a live band playing upbeat music, free food, and an acrobatics team of giant hoola hoop dancing, unicycle juggling, and spitting fire, the event was something I’d never seen before. I even got to be pretty adventurous and try a meal I’d never even thought about eating before, crawfish. Seafood has been a huge part of my life since I grew up less than ten minutes away from a beach in California but I’d never had the opportunity to give crawfish a try before this weekend. To me, it just seemed like way too much work just for one measly bite of meat, but everyone around me had such a good time with it and I could see why it is so popular.

Events like Krewe de Ware are commonplace at SMU and I am so happy to go to a school where there is never a dull moment. I got to see many of my Ware friends enjoying the food, music, and atmosphere and many others enjoying the success of the event. After just two short years, the commons have created traditions I am confident will far outlive my time as a student. I’m so excited to see the future of the commons system and the heights that each can reach.

— Evan Giacomini

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From California to Country

02.16 Alex HibbardLast Thursday, I went country dancing for the 5th time in my eight semesters of college. This was a special moment because not only is it my last semester at SMU, but it was the first time that I stepped foot in Billy Bob’s, one of the most famous country dancing venues in Texas. Billy Bob’s is located outside of Fort Worth and is a popular place for college students to attend on Thursday nights because students get a discounted rate with their SMU ID card.

At 9:30, about 30 of my friends gathered outside the Catholic Center on SMU’s campus and carpooled over to Billy Bob’s, arriving at around 10:15. Once I stepped out of my car, I was amazed at the size of Billy Bob’s. I walked inside and the venue appeared to be even bigger than it did from the outside. They had a large dance floor, tables and chairs everywhere, a stage with a live band, and of course, a mechanical bull.

My friends and I immediately hit the dance floor. I only know a few country dance moves, but that didn’t stop me from dancing the night away. The live band was incredible and they played a great variety of songs. The other regular attenders of Billy Bob’s were so much fun to watch. They know so many dance moves and it is very entertaining to watch them glide around the dance floor.

Our final dance was a line dance and at 12:30, we came back to SMU. Any late night outing would not be complete without stopping at Whataburger, so we stopped for a quick snack and quickly went to bed. I had an awesome time and I cannot wait to go back next Thursday!

-Alex Hibbard

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Moody Magic

SMU storms the court after SMU upset #7 Cincinnati!

SMU storms the court after SMU upset #7 Cincinnati!

Welcome to Moody Coliseum, SMU’s 7,000 seat capacity basketball arena. Moody has become one of the premier places in the nation to watch a college basketball game, as well as one of the most feared places for opposing teams to visit. Moody Coliseum was renovated in 2014 and ever since the Mustangs have returned, they have gone 30-3. This has caused national attention as SMU is consistently ranked as one of the top 25 in national rankings.

In 2014, when I was a senior and high school and deciding where I wanted to go to college, I could not help but watch every SMU basketball game that was on national television. The fans, the energy, and the excitement had me hooked. No other school in the nation has a former President of the United States consistently in attendance along with a raucous fan section called the Mob that was led by a lobster. When I came onto campus later that year, I went to enough games of SMU soccer, football, and volleyball to get guaranteed tickets to every game and be a part of the Mob.

I went to every home basketball game I was in town for, and never had I been to such a loud sports venue. When the Mustangs came from behind to beat Temple, or hosted Connecticut and absolutely crushed them on ESPN College Gameday, there was no better place in the nation to be than Moody Coliseum. The whole school was watching as SMU went onto win the American Conference Championship and go to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. It is an exciting time for sports here at SMU, so come and check us out you will not be disappointed.

-David Shirzad

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Not Such an Anomaly


The above picture describes one of the most significant experiences I have been a part of here at SMU.  It amazes me how these group of students- who sat with me in chamber every Tuesday from 3:30pm-6:00pm- could teach me so much. As a member of the SMU 102nd student senate, I have learned what it means to thoroughly know and defend my positions, build coalitions, create change, and to speak up for others. In the 2015-2016 school year, I have had the pleasure of completing my term as a transfer student senator. Along with my responsibilities as a transfer senator, I was honored to work with seven other diverse student organizations that represent various cultures on campus.

It took me at least a semester to find “my” organization: an organization that put my passion to create change and my desire to connect with others to good use. When I first came to SMU, looking at the 250+ organizations on campus, I thought it would be nearly impossible to find something that would make me feel at home. I thought I was the anomaly transfer student who had to be an outsider. That was not the case! My psychology degree sister has a theory of the feeling of being an anomaly. She calls it the theory of singularity. It is the phenomenon in which people think that they are the only one who feel a certain way, do something a specific way, etc. In reality, that is seldom the case.

In college you find people that are just as geeky about culture as you are, students that care about lighting, parking, dinning, academic issues on campus, and most importantly passionate individuals that are as serious about becoming a world changer as you are. It is with these people that you find your home away from home. It is here that you discover that you are not an anomaly.

-Keya Tollossa

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Courtney DamoreI’m currently sitting in the Innsbruck, Austria airport awaiting my flight back to Copenhagen, Denmark where I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past 4 months studying abroad. To answer the typical question, “Why Copenhagen?” I’ll be honest and say it was the one program that had course options for both my Environmental Studies and Marketing majors. It was also the city I knew the least about and that excited me!

Through my three months and counting abroad I can easily say “Cope,” as we like to call it, is one of my favorite European cities. The city is modern yet charming, exciting but safe, and most importantly filled with AMAZING restaurants! As a self-proclaimed foodie, I have made Copenhagen my palette’s playground.

My personal favorite? Paper Island. What is it? An upgraded food truck paradise. Located inside a refurbished warehouse along the harbor, Paper Island is filled with only the trendiest and tastiest eateries. From pulled pork sandwiches that melt in your mouth to double fried, duck fat French fries, this place has everything you need to satisfy your taste buds. As for my friends and I, you can find us there almost every Thursday evening trying new dishes and probably playing with a deck of cards. The atmosphere of Paper Island is warm and inviting, making it a great place to hang out and enjoy a tasty treat!

Another personal favorite of mine is Kalaset’s brunch. Situated just off the main train station, Kalaset is a quaint, little restaurant that is known for their amazing pancakes and deluxe hot chocolate. When the fall gloom gets to my head and I need a pick me up, Kalaset is the first place I go. Their fluffy blueberry pancakes have never let me down. They even home-make their own Nutella and jam!

Although Copenhagen food is top-notch, I would have to say my favorite thing about Denmark is the vibe of the city and it’s people. For the Danes, atmosphere is everything. They even came up with a special word for it, “Hygge”! Although there is no direct translation for it in English, hygge represents the feeling of coziness. Whether it means inside enjoying coffee with friends or bundled in blankets on the porch watching the rain, you find traces of hygge all throughout Denmark. As temperatures drop and winter settles in, candles and wool blankets are seen in every shop and eatery around the city. Though the weather may be cold and rainy some days, Copenhagen remains warm and inviting.

I try not to think about the fact that I leave for home in exactly one month, but I’m lucky in that my departure from Copenhagen will be bittersweet. The friendships and experiences I’ve had abroad are going to be hard to say goodbye to, but at the same time SMU spring semester is right around the corner!

-Courteney Damore


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Dancing the Days Away

madison mckay

The SMU Dance majors immediately hit the ground running this semester. On the evening following the first day of classes, we jumped into rehearsals for the Fall Hope Show, which we recently performed. The show was comprised of three pieces, the first (and the one that I had the opportunity to perform) was a contemporary piece called Wild and Precious. As the name suggests, the contemporary ballet piece was a celebration of youth and exuberance. The music was relentlessly upbeat, and featured twenty-five dancers sprinting and dancing across the stage wearing brightly-colored costumes most likely inspired by the “Jane Fonda 80s Workout Section” that was incorporated into the middle of the piece. I had the chance to work with a choreographer named Robert Dekkers, the Artistic Director of Post: Ballet in San Francisco. He worked with us for two weeks and created an original piece that featured both his choreography and the choreography of his cast! Overall, it was an incredible experience and was so thankful for the chance to work with so many talented artists!

-Madison McKay

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A Unique Experience: A Guest Lecture by President Bush

Meeting President Bush on campus was one of the things I had on my bucket list since my freshman year at SMU. However, I never thought that the way I would meet him was through a surprise guest lecture in one of my business classes.

jun-hoI am currently taking Professor Don Vandewalle’s class on Leadership and Culture in the Cox School of Business. The course is an evidence-based study on the science of leadership, and it utilizes interdisciplinary frameworks to understand what makes leaders successful.

When class started that fateful day, everything seemed normal. Professor Vandewalle began class by outlining the objectives of the day and asking us if we had any questions.

However, about five minutes into the lecture, our class began to realize that this class period would be anything but normal. We were told to put our computers and other electronic devices below our tables. Shortly after, former President George W. Bush walked into our classroom, shook Professor Vanderwalle’s hand and sat down on a chair across from our professor, ready to talk about some of his leadership experiences during his career.

Professor Vanderwalle led the beginning of the session by asking some questions tailored to the topics that our class was currently covering through case studies and in-class discussions. Near the middle of the class period, President Bush opened the floor to questions from the class. He took the time to answer each question asked and even stayed past the allotted class time to make sure that every student who wanted to ask a question had the opportunity to do so.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that SMU provided to not only meet the former president, but also to hear about his unique experiences and lessons learned as a co-owner of the Rangers, as the governor of Texas, and as the President of the United States of America.

-Jun-Ho Koh


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Looking for a Place to Dine with Parents? : My Favorite Restaurants

Dallas is known for a lot of things, and one of those is its vibrant restaurant scene. With SMU’s location in the heart of the city I have had lots of opportunity over the past few years to indulge my “foodie” side.

To give you an idea of some of the great options available, I have highlighted four of my favorite restaurants in the city to give you some ideas about places you might want to check out on a date, with parents, or to celebrate a special occasion. They aren’t the fanciest in town, but they aren’t the cheapest either. What are they then, you ask? Delicious. So, since picking favorites is far too difficult, here are a few places I would recommend (in no particular order):

HG SPLY Co. – Situated in Lower Greenville, a rather lively part of town with a lot of quality competition, HG SPLY Co. stands out for its great ambiance, friendly service, and emphasis on natural ingredients. If that last point scares you, fret not—it doesn’t come with any flavor compromises. My recommendation would be one of the bowls, particularly one called “The Stack”, but everything I have had there has been great so you can’t go wrong. The bar is a hit as well with a number of creative cocktail options. The only big downside? It’s not a last minute sort of place. High demand is certainly better than the opposite problem though, so if you have time to plan ahead you should put this one on your list.

HG Sply Co

Meso Maya – Tex-Mex is comfort food for me, so there was bound to be something from this genre on the list. That being said, Meso Maya is on here not because it fits the mold, but because it has pulled away from it. There are any number of “cheap Tex-Mex” places I could have mentioned, most of which are fantastic. But this list is about quality, and that brings us to Meso Maya on the edge of uptown near the Perot museum. The restaurant moves a little more upscale from your typical Mexican food place while also pushing towards the more authentic end of the spectrum. I recommend the seafood enchiladas, but if your tastes differ explore the menu for yourself—I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Meso Maya

Sissy’s – Located on Henderson Ave., another popular restaurant zone, Sissy’s will take you home for some good old fashioned fried chicken. Make no mistake though… this is no KFC. The restaurant walks a tightrope between elegance and hominess, pulling it off with style. If fried chicken just isn’t your thing, they specialize in all things southern, so there is sure to be something on the menu for you. It’s not a huge place, so if you can’t find a table just take a seat at the bar—they will make you feel right at home there too. It may be finger-licking good, but be sure to save some room for milk and cookies (there is an adult version for those of age) at the end of the meal.


R+D Kitchen – Tucked away in a back corner of Preston Center, R+D Kitchen isn’t a place you might stumble upon driving around and searching for a restaurant. But believe me, it is well worth an intentional trip. With a dimly lit, intimate atmosphere and a bar running through the middle of the restaurant that almost makes it feel like an elegant diner, the décor won’t disappoint. The menu is primarily American style, but sushi and other more eclectic offerings are also available. The chef and staff clearly take great pride in their work, and it shows in the food. The Carnitas Sandwich and The Newporter salad are two of my favorites. Add in top-notch service and it quickly becomes apparent that they have a recipe for success.

R+D Kitchen


This list is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you some ideas of places to start after arriving in Dallas. If you start exploring I have no doubt you will have your own list in no time!

-Ryan Herrscher

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