As a student in high school, I could never imagine living somewhere other than my house in Alabama with my parents and siblings surrounding me. I had lived in the same house, even the same room, for my entire life. The idea of moving was foreign to me, especially the idea of moving away from my parents. I made a decision my first semester at SMU to never call my Residential Commons “home.” I believed that if I started calling SMU my home, then I would no longer be connected to my home and family in Alabama. Throughout the first semester, however, I caught myself referring to my Residential Commons as my home. I would try harder and harder to avoid doing so, but it kept happening more frequently as the semester went by. Now, as a sophomore, I gladly refer to my Residential Commons as my home. I have since realized that you can always have more than one “home.” I truly believe that home is where the heart is. A piece of me will always belong to my home in Alabama, but the love that I have developed for this University has made it my home as well. I have made friends that I truly love and support me. I have resources to help me surpass my own expectations. I have many different opportunities to explore my passions. SMU is my home.
By Caroline Gurley
While you can always count on the Dallas summers to be hot, (trust me I gave tours over the summer), the winters are a little bit more unpredictable. SMU students may have thought spring was coming early when we enjoyed temperatures in the upper 70’s a few weeks ago, however, the snow and ice this week crushed our dreams of an early spring and truly proved the unpredictability of the Dallas weather. Due to the fact that I grew up in Atlanta, GA and really only saw snow once every year or two I always get excited to see snow even if it is only an inch of snow. When I first saw it snowing on Friday I was excited to check it out and see how much the snow transformed SMU’s already beautiful campus. Since SMU was still open during the snow it slowly dawned on me that I would have to give my campus tour in the snow. I wasn’t looking forward to being out in the cold for that long but since it rarely snows in Dallas I saw this as a unique opportunity to share with our visitors. I bundled up in the warmest clothes I had and powered through the snow and ice with my group. Some of the families on my tour had traveled multiple hours in the snow and ice to make it to SMU so I did everything I could to make it a great tour despite less than ideal conditions. Even though it was pretty cold, we all survived the tour and are now a part of a select group that can say they toured SMU in the snow. The SMU Ambassadors are a dedicated group and as long as SMU is open we’ll be there to lead y’all through rain or shine, extreme heat or snow, so don’t be discouraged by the weather. Personally, I am more accustomed to the heat coming from Atlanta, so I’m hoping that I do not have to give too many more tours in the snow, but campus does look beautiful even in the winter weather!
By Austin Brown
2015 at SMU has already started off with a bang and the men’s basketball team has dominated the New Year. SMU’s 23-6 overall record, 14-3 conference record, have led the Mustangs to the top of the American Athletic Conference, just one game behind Tulsa. Mustang basketball tickets are hard to come by these days as the team, led by Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown, is having a great season. After the Mustangs did not make the NCAA Tournament last year, we proved to the Nation that we could perform by making it to the NIT Championship game at Madison Square Garden. This year, the ‘Stangs scheduled a difficult out of conference schedule to prove to the NCAA that we could play with good teams around the country. Although we lost a few tough games, SMU came away with a big win against Michigan and has not looked back since.
SMU basketball games are a blast to attend. George W. Bush, Tony Romo, Troy Aikman, and Avery Johnson are just some of the stars that attend basketball games in Moody Coliseum. Since the reopening of Moody Coliseum, SMU has only lost two home games and the ‘Stangs show no signs of stopping. Led by point guard Nic Moore and power forward Markus Kennedy, the SMU Mustangs have really proven that they can compete with the best around. It has truly been an exciting season and I cannot wait to see where the Mustangs end up in March!
By Alex Hibbard
Sometimes on the Hilltop, we forget that there is a whole other world going on at the same time. People wake up, brush their teeth, go to work/school/back to bed, eat, and do it all over again. When SMU kicked off it’s “World Changers Shaped Here” campaign, I started to wonder what exactly qualified someone as a “World Changer.” In my opinion, A “World Changer” is someone who does what they can to better the world everyday. It doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. One small gesture can really go a long way. Some of the biggest companies today started off as silly ideas. As Residential Commons kicks off, I believe that there will be an increase in small gestures that will propel SMU and it’s students towards being “World Changers.”
Residential Commons will allow more people to collaborate with each other. For example, one of our very own FiRS (Faculty in Residence), Beth Wheaton, combined her love of economics and helping others into a career catered towards helping others. She is the founder and CEO of Equip the Saints, a non-profit consultancy that works to strengthen nonprofit organizations worldwide and to equip world changers to fulfill their personal missions. FiR Wheaton is a “World Changer” who can provide serious advice for other students who want to collaborate with others and make the world a better place. SMU is a breeding ground for BIG ideas.
Simply put, SMU is the golden place to be at in the following years. We retired an old residential system and brought in a new experience that will be the start of so many new traditions and ideas! Forget about Hogwarts. SMU’s got everything you’ve been looking for.
By Tien Dang
By Tammy Winter
I’ll admit, when I joined the Residential Commons Leadership Corps last year in the hopes of getting to be involved in the creation and implementation of the Res Commons here at SMU, didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, a feeling that I’m sure was shared by everyone in the Corps. The Corps consisted of eleven distinct groups, one for each of the Commons with three students, a Residential Community a Director (RCD) and a Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) and we were basically tasked with the assignment of making the Commons come to life. Each team selected Commons colors, designed a crest, and decided on traditions in the hopes that their Commons would carry them into SMU’s second century proudly. And while it’s been an adjustment and has certainly come with a bit of a learning curve, it’s hard to see the a Commons as angry thing but a success.
The objective of the Residential Commons was to create a sense of community for all students at SMU, and as I look around daily at all of the activity in my own hall, Armstrong Commons, I know it’s done just that. Conventional wisdom tells us that throwing literature majors with engineers and athletes with artists might not be the best recipe for cohesion, but what I’ve seen in my own hall is that people are loving getting to interact with and learn from people who think just a little bit differently from the way they do. As an RA it’s my job to be a “friend-plus” to my residents, and help them get to know each other. My residents haven’t really needed my help, though. It’s not uncommon to for me to come outside of my room and see a group of my freshman boys planning a trip to one of their houses, or playing video games. Other times I’ve walked out and seen my sophomore girls giving advice to my freshman girls, about rush or homework, or anything and everything in between. This is how I know the Commons system is doing what it’s supposed to; I’m right in the middle of it.
To the casual observer the Residential Commons system might seem silly or perhaps too expansive to actually accomplish properly, but I see it differently. I see it as SMU making good on its promise to ensure that our campus is a space where you can connect with people you might have never gotten to interact with otherwise, a space where truly ever mustang is valued. And for that, I’m grateful.
By Anna Scott Phillips
After seeing Pitch Perfect, I had always been infatuated with a cappella groups, but not talented enough to be in one. I admire girls in my grade who can belt a tune to my favorite pop songs. After our monthly meetings as ambassadors, I met a girl named Nadine Kakish. She is an ambassador from the Dallas area. We became fast friends. Unbeknownst to myself, she was in one of these a cappella groups. Nadine is an Alto for the all-girls on campus a cappella group named the SMU Belle Tones. She had talked about the many concerts they do throughout the year and various other performances they get the opportunity to perform at, like Celebration of Lights, our school’s Christmas production, to the Pigskin Revue, and more informal concerts for SMU students. She told me that they arrange and choreograph their own musical pieces. After spending long hours with her in the car and hearing her sing, I knew that I had to check out the Belle Tones. I went to their fall concert where they sang classic songs like “You’re So Vain” and more modern songs like “Skyfall” by Adele. I had always wondered if college would be like Pitch Perfect, the movie. I can’t say it’s exactly like the movie, but what I can say is that I do get to experience some of the same interests without myself having to be involved in them. That’s one of my favorite things about the SMU experience—the ability to see other people pursuing their passions while they simultaneously support my own.
By Austin Brown
Last semester SMU was lucky enough to have President George Bush on campus to speak about his new book 41: A Portrait Of My Father. It always strikes me how lucky we are as a student body to consistently have opportunities to attend speeches by the former president. Reflecting on this reminded me of my own experience with President Bush that I will share for you in my “Throwback Thursday” blog post. (This post was originally written in the fall of my sophomore year).
Even though I am only a sophomore here at SMU I feel like I have already had the chance to do some pretty incredible things. This past Monday started off like all of my Mondays this semester until I got to my first class, Evolution of American Capitalism taught by Albert Niemi, Dean of the Cox School of Business. I first noticed that something was different about this class when a random photographer walked in to our class and took a few pictures. It was strange, but since it is such a cool class I thought maybe it was a picture for the school newspaper or something like that. Five seconds later my friend sitting next to me draws my attention to the door by blurting out “Dude look! It’s George Bush!” in a very excited tone. To my surprise I see former President George W. Bush casually stroll down the stairs with a huge grin on his face.
After being greeted by a huge round of applause Bush proceeded to answer questions and talk to my class about: how much he loves the SMU student body, capitalism and the thought process behind his decisions during the 2008 Financial Crisis, current events, life lessons, and even his newfound hobby as a painter. I was also lucky enough to ask him a question. How many sophomores in college get to do that?
What really struck me about the whole experience was how George W. Bush was such a down to earth guy. He told us not to shy away from taking a few risks in your life and also not to be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Regardless of your political beliefs, the opportunity to listen to a former President of the United States in person, and even the chance to ask him a question, is something that I will never forget.
By Elishah Ramos
If you have had the opportunity to spend time on campus, you may or may not have experienced seeing pony ears. Like many other Texas schools, we too have a hand sign, and although it may not be a claw or some horns, we have pony ears. Essentially, to make pony ears, you simply make a peace sign with (commonly) your right hand, and then let your first and middle fingers relax just enough so they’re slightly bent – caution: you want them relaxed just enough so that it feels comfortable, otherwise, if you do too much, you may end up with a completely different mascot from across the metroplex!
Pony ears play a huge role in supporting the Mustangs in Moody Coliseum. This season has certainly challenged the Mustangs with strong opponents; however, the team always plays with so much heart and the players give it their best. The student section, too, gives huge support for the Mustangs as some may put on costumes, coordinate chants, or simply cheer on the guys on the court. The student section always seems synchronized, especially with free throws: everyone throws the pony ears up and keeps quiet and still as one of our guys steps up to shoot. Despite the fact that Moody gets packed full of spectators, it gets so quiet that you can even hear when someone coughs or sneezes once the pony ears go up. Then, once you here the ball gracefully go through the basket everything goes back to the way it was. Moody Coliseum gets loud, excited, and even emotionally invested for our basketball team, but if you leave your pony ears at home, you might feel out of place. Even at the end of the game we raise our pony ears one more time to sing our alma matter, for all sporting events, regardless if we win or lose. So make sure that if you find yourself on campus to bring your pony ears too – especially for sporting events!
By Blake Ann Seeker
Declaring your college major is a big step in your academic life. Many students, myself among them, remain “undecided” for some time. It’s a good idea to take a variety of classes, weigh options with the help of advisors and professors, or even reach out to the Hegi Family Career Development Center before making the big decision. I was in this position of uncertainty for my first two years at SMU. Not to worry though, as pre-med student I had plenty of medical school prerequisite courses to keep me busy. When SMU’s Anthropology Department announced the creation of new Health and Society Major this past summer, I knew my search was over. The Health and Society Major uniquely takes an interdisciplinary approach to the practice and study of health in global and cultural contexts. It also offers two tracks—one physiological and the other social and cultural. Through this curriculum, I have enjoyed classes from genetics to bioethics to medical anthropology.
My favorite class of the semester was the capstone of the course, Health in Cross Cultural Perspectives taught by Dr. Nia Parson. I was one only of six students in this round-table style class and can honestly and emphatically say that I loved attending this class each week. After all that deliberation, I am truly very happy with my major decision. I am also now following the trend of most SMU students by adding another major and minor! I am thankful to attend a university where such a flexible and personalized degree plan is possible. Pony Up!
By Ryan Herrscher
I think I speak for all of the ambassadors here in the Office of Admission at SMU when I say that we are looking forward to the break and time off from our normal responsibilities. No matter how you celebrate, enjoy the time with family and friends and have a fantastic holiday season. We will resume posting on this blog in the new year. Until then, Pony up!