By Margaret Ellen Crawford
My four years of college are finally coming to a close. It is hard to believe that it’s been so long since I first stepped on campus as a bright eyed and eager high school senior. I visited SMU in April and I immediately realized that SMU was an incredible school. Its beautiful campus, its size, and its location in Dallas made SMU stand out from all of my other prospects. I loved that I could study more than one subject here. I loved that SMU students were incredibly involved on campus. And most of all I loved that when I walked around campus students looked happy – like they truly enjoyed going to school here. These were the factors that lead me to make my decision to come to SMU. What I didn’t know at that time was just how big of an impact SMU would have on me.
(picured: Last year’s May 2013 SMU graduation ceremony on Dallas Hall lawn)
As I write this I am a mere three weeks away from graduating. In my time at SMU I have changed my major more times than I can count. I have joined clubs and quit clubs. I have had the “what am I going to do with my life” crisis. I have excelled and I have struggled. Your four years of college are a time to discover your passions, develop life long friendships, and build the foundation for your future career. College challenges you in everything you do; teaches you about your strengths and weaknesses; and ultimately shapes who you are. I look back on who I was when I first walked down the boulevard and am so thankful that I chose to be moulded by SMU.
My mom always told me growing up that you are the company you keep. To a certain extent I agreed, but I also thought that a person decides who and what they become. In my time at SMU I have realized that we both were right. When you are surrounded by excellence it challenges you to also be excellent, but ultimately the decision to be excellent is yours. What I have found at SMU is a community defined by excellence, full of students that excel but also that encourage their peers to excel with them. Not a community of competition, but of shared accomplishment. I have done and achieved more in my four years at SMU than I ever imagined I would when I first stepped on campus. I attribute that success to the encouragement and support not only of my professors and mentors, but also my peers. More times than not it was my friends that convinced me I could achieve something when I was skeptical of my own ability.
You always hear people say “College is the best four years of your life!” A part of me can’t help but agree with this. I have had MORE than my fair share of fun during my time at SMU going to themed parties, boulevards, sporting events, and formals. I have stormed the field after our football team beat TCU and the court when our basketball team made it to the NIT championship. I have studied abroad in Italy and traveled all over the country visiting friends. While this is only the tip of the iceberg of the fun I have had in college, a part of me hesitates when I hear that college is the best time of your life. I truly believe that because of my decision to come to SMU I have set myself up to have many more years of incredible memories. SMU has given me friends and mentors that will support me. SMU has given me an education that has prepared me for the real world. SMU has given me outstanding resources that greatly contributed to me getting a job. And finally, SMU has given me the tools to be successful no matter what path I take going forward.
Graduation is a bittersweet time for all seniors. In the past few months there have been many “lasts” and there are even more to come in the next couple of weeks. There will be ceremonies and hard goodbyes, but there definitely won’t be any regrets. I can honestly say that coming to SMU was one of the best decisions of my life, and I hope that you too can say when you graduate that the best is yet to come.
By Adam Melson
As the spring semester winds to an end, one obstacle lies in the way of students returning home, starting internships, and even graduating: final exam week. During this week, students will spend hours visiting with their professors and studying in SMU’s various libraries in order to prepare for the semester’s end. After the semester, many students will begin internships set up through SMU’s MustangTrak, which allows them to experience a new job setting and build up one’s credentials for after graduation. For those who are graduating, this is a bittersweet time; the senior class will close a chapter in their lives and finally enter the real world!
Getting through finals isn’t an awful time at SMU because of the amenities that SMU provides for its students. Every night at SMU’s Fondren library, a “midnight breakfast” is catered for the students who are studying away during the night. SMU also provides free massages in the residence halls to relieve stress and provide a break for students who are focusing on exams.
Although exam week is a burden for most students, SMU goes out of their way in order to help us succeed. And we just have to remember that summer is just a week away!
By Ryan Herrscher
Today is the day! If you were recently accepted into SMU, we hope that by now you have made the decision to join us here on our beautiful campus in Dallas, Texas. SMU is a wonderful school with abundant opportunities, and we think you are going to love it. You have a lot to look forward to this summer with AARO, Mustang Corral, and the beginning of the next chapter of your life! If, on the other hand, you made your decision and plan to go somewhere other than SMU, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Regardless of your choice, I think I speak for all of the SMU Ambassadors when I say congratulations on completing the process. For those of you headed towards the hilltop, we look forward to welcoming you to campus in the fall! Pony up!
By Katie Maiers
As an advertising student, I often forget that research papers, minimum word requirements, and the typical academic fears that loom over many college students continue to exist. Don’t get me wrong: I still write an occasional paper now and then, but for the most part, my assigned work tends to feel more like assigned freedom.
My recent assignment in my Introduction to Creativity course was to make a “creative hat.” The only instruction was to make a hat, and the grade would depend on the creativity and execution of the idea. Yes, that’s it, and yes, that was my homework. Although it seems simple, it truly was a challenge. I went through countless ideas and totally failed, and the deadline was coming closer and closer each day.
I ended up making a hat out of a shoebox lid, real grass, and my own shoe. My inspiration came from one of my favorite things to do when I’m in need of inspiration: take a walk. I glued real grass from the nearby park where I usually walk onto the hat chunk by chunk, and I topped it all off with my own personal shoe.
Like many of the classes that I’ve been able to take at SMU, this course has taught me that when you’re having fun and enjoying yourself, work doesn’t even feel like work. I’ve been given a multitude of opportunities to take risks in the classroom and stretch my brain in ways that I would’ve never imagined, and all that I had to do was put on my creative hat!
By Shauna Davis
This past Spring Break I had the opportunity to travel internationally with several SMU dance majors (and one engineer!). The location was Panama and what brought us there was dance. We worked with a group called Movement Exchange that has developed partnerships with orphanages in Panama, Brazil and the States. Over the course of a week, we taught dance classes to underserved kids in orphanages, providing them an avenue for expression, building self-confidence, developing community, and having fun. While there we taught other dancers at the University of Panama, tried some of the local food, and fumbled our way through the Spanish language. Luckily we picked up the words baño, numbers 1-10 and bailar right away. Among the things I learned in Panama, here are some of my highlights.
5 of the many things I learned in Panama:
1- People are always willing and able to help
2- Children are energetic balls of fun, talent, patience and stamina
3- Zanahoria means carrot… and nananja (orange) zanahoria juice is very interesting
4- Panamanian people are extremely passionate and spiritual. On October 21, Catholics thousands make a pilgrimage to Iglesia de San Felipe in Portobelo to witness Christo Negro (the Black Christ)
5- Power in numbers is very, VERY real people- with 9 students and a combined total of 8 years of high school Spanish (and about 17 years of French) the Movement Exchange students from SMU and FSU have combined forces and made a great curriculum for the kids.
By Elizabeth Dubret
Not too long ago, Dallas was lucky enough to host the Final Four! It was an exciting time to be in the city, and there were so many amazing things to do as a student. To kick it all off, SMU hosted the Three Point and Slam Dunk competition in our very own Moody Coliseum. As a student, I got a cheap ticket to go and watch this event. I sat with some of my best friends as we cheered on the competitors and watched how they had formed a friendship. I then watched the slam dunk competition. At first, I was not impressed. I felt like I, at five foot two, could do some of these dunks. But then, they got really good. Players jumped over things and people, did full spins in the air, dunked backwards, and even swung the ball around their legs. But, the best part of the night was watching the amazing Adreian Payne have Lacey Holsworth kiss his basketball for good luck before it was his turn. Her strength, his compassion, and their relationship inspired the entire audience.
The next day, the free concerts in Dallas began. There were artists from the Killers, to Tim McGraw, and Bruce Springsteen. It was held downtown under the Reunion Tower, and was such a fun time even though it was raining. There were food trucks, vendors, and games, and the concerts were everything the artists had promised. The other best part of the weekend, was that SMU students received tickets to the final four for $20. Even though SMU was not playing, we could go and cheer on the teams at AT&T Stadium. Overall, having the Final Four in Dallas was an experience of a lifetime and a blast for SMU students.
By Lauren Lyngstad
This semester, I have had the opportunity to be a student in the Cox School of Business Honors Marketing Practicum. This course takes place every fall for a select group of graduating Marketing majors, and it has easily been one of my favorite courses that I have taken during my time at SMU. Essentially, at the beginning of the year we start off with 25 students in the class. From there, we divide into five teams consisting of five students. The teams are chosen draft-style–the class designates five leaders and each leader chooses their team members with a goal of creating the best, most well-rounded team. After that, the fun begins!
For the past four years, this course, and SMU, has partnered with FOX. Every year, FOX Sports kicks off the course by visiting the classroom and proposing a semester-long project to the class. From there, the five teams of student compete to develop the best solution to the project that FOX has presented. This year, we have been tasked with developing a national campaign for FOX Sports 1 soccer programming. At first, I must admit that I was a little bit intimidated by the gravity of the project. After all, this was a NATIONAL campaign! After the intimidation period passed, our group got down to business. We started off the semester by conducting extensive secondary and primary research. From there, we began to develop ad campaign ideas to present to FOX.
Earlier in March, executives and employees from FS1 flew out from Los Angeles and also joined us via Skype. Our group was given a 30-minute meeting to present our research, campaign ideas and receive employee feedback. It was such a phenomenal opportunity to be sitting in a conference with some of FS1’s most influential employees. We walked away from the meeting with praise, criticism and a renewed passion for the rest of the semester. Currently, we are working on finalizing our final campaign that will be presented to FOX Sports later this month. It has been an absolutely crazy ride, but we have had so much fun dreaming up advertising ideas for social media campaigns, print ads, commercials and more. I cannot wait to see our final product, and I am crossing my fingers that FS1 chooses our project!
By Laura Spitler
A question we get fairly often as SMU Ambassadors is “what does a typical day look like for you?” So I thought it might be fun to spell that out on here since it incorporates info about classes, homework, holding a job, and being involved on campus…
My alarm goes off at 8:30am. Luckily for me, it’s a Tuesday and my first class doesn’t start until 11am. But rather than sleep even later, I get up and use that time productively. Today that means writing my portion of a business case assignment due on Thursday. It’s a marketing case about Frito Lay’s introduction of SunChips and I’ve got a group of 4 to help get all the questions answered. Since I live off campus, I try to leave my apartment by 10:40 to give me time to drive to campus, park, and get to my class in plenty of time.
Now I’ve have three back to back classes that are each 80 minutes long. First is the Sociology of Culture, then Consumer Behavior, then Product and Brand Management (the course I was just doing homework for). So this means I’m in class from 11am until 3:20pm, with 10 minute passing periods to change buildings when need be (my last two classes are actually in the same room!). Unfortunately this line up of classes is effective for knocking out the classes, but it means I don’t really get a lunch…that’s my bad, I planned it this way. I just bring a granola bar to eat in class and then get to eat a substantial “snack” when classes release.
The next thing on my schedule is meeting with one of the advertising professors at 4pm. I’m hoping to get into a Mayterm class she is teaching in New York City, and she wants to meet with all the interested students since she can only pick 12 to attend. This sounds like such an amazing opportunity because it would mean getting to network with successful SMU alums that now work for places like Nike and Monster.com, plus we could learn more about different sides of advertising and marketing in a very hands-on way.
Now I get to head home, throw in a load of laundry, and start making a study guide for my upcoming sociology exam. Before I know it, it is 6pm and I need to think about making dinner and heading back to campus for a meeting of a Christian Woman’s group that I am currently secretary of. We meet in the Hughes Trigg Student Center to sing songs, pray, and talk about the upcoming events we having coming up, like Relay for Life. When the meeting wraps up an hour later it’s off to the Dedman Rec Center for me. I’m a part of the SMU Ballroom Dance team and we practice here two hours every Tuesday night. Right now we are prepping for our big spring competition held in Austin (road trip!). It’s about 10:45pm before I finally make it home for the night. I’m worn out, but it’s been a productive, fun day.
By Elishah Ramos
For this past Spring Break I was fortunate enough to serve the Memphis community by working on the Mississippi River in river cleanup. Here at SMU, we have the option to participate in an Alternative Breaks program for our fall, winter, and spring breaks. Last year, I participated in a spring break trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to work on urban gardening and this past winter break I was in Quito, Ecuador working with low-income children who work in their street markets. After participating in two amazing trips, I decided to be a site leader for the Memphis, Tennessee trip.
While in Memphis, we worked with Chad Pregracke and his non-profit, Living Lands and Waters. They work cleaning up the Mississippi River and several other rivers in multiple states. He was even featured as a CNN hero of the year! It was a very humbling experience and it really helped the group understand a concept that was vaguely familiar to all of us in a more personal level. While we were there, one of the participants in our group was even interviewed for a Memphis news channel. Working with over 15 other schools for a great cause led to a very rewarding spring break.
By Erin Robbins
Spring is arguably the most beautiful time of the year to visit SMU and a perfect season in Dallas. Everything is in bloom, the weather is perfect, and there are tons of things to do outdoors. One of my favorite things to do on a sunny 78-degree day (like today) is head out to the Katy Trail. I love enjoying some fresh air and vitamin D after a long week of classes and studying!
The Katy Trail is a great 3.5 mile jogging/walking and biking trail that starts near SMU and runs through the Uptown area of Dallas. This trail follows along the greenbelt that the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad used for over 100 years. in 1997, a nonprofit organization called Friends of the Katy Trail was created to convert the abandoned railroad tracks into the trail it is today as part of a national “rails-to-trails” initiative.
Throughout the trail you get to see some great views of downtown and green landscapes (yes there are trees in Texas for those of you from far away)! However, my favorite part is seeing all of the Dallasites out with their dogs, which is a huge plus when I’m missing my dog at home. Another popular activity among SMU students is rollerblading, and there are places to rent them for your afternoon on the trail. You would never expect that such a tranquil place existed in the midst of the most densely populated part of the city. The Katy Trail is so accessible and a great outlet for enjoying these beautiful spring days in Dallas! Here is the Katy Trail website if you’re interested in some of the construction they’re doing to expand: www.katytraildallas.org
With weather like this there is nothing to keep you from getting out and exploring Dallas!