Giving Back through Service

UntitledBy Julius Henderson

One beautiful aspect of college is having the opportunity engage many interests at one time. This fall, I’ve been able to expand my college experience and find new ways to learn through peers and within the Dallas community. Just before Thanksgiving Break this year, I was asked to sit on a success panel for the Young Men’s Conference that was held at Balch Springs Middle School in Pleasant Grove, Dallas. This proved to be one of the more enjoyable experiences I’ve had this semester.

I spent the morning with 3 others talking to a group of 8th grade middle school students about topics ranging from how to handle money to how to manage the responsibilities that come with being successful. Talking with the students was rewarding for me because of the message that was being conveyed. It’s always good to help others, but it’s even more important to continue to reach back and guide others to be successful. I look forward to future opportunities to build relationships with these students and continue to be a positive role model in their lives.

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Both Sides of the Boulevard

UntitledBy Liz Crowell

It’s easy to become comfortable and stuck with the same routine, the same buildings on campus and the same group of people once you get settled in college. At SMU we have two prominent sides of the boulevard; on the West side you have the renowned Meadows School of the Arts while on the East side the equally as renowned Cox School of Business. Sounds a little bit like the Sharks and the Jets from “West Side Story” if you will. Both schools demand a lot from its students especially outside of the classroom, so it’s sometimes hard to get the time to see the other side.

As an accounting major at SMU I find myself spending most of my days at either Einstein’s or in the Business Library. I’ve lost count of how many group projects I’ve had for classes and how many 10-Ks I’ve had to read as well. I love the Cox school of business; the people I’ve met in it, the opportunities it has afforded me and the necessary skills it has taught me to be able to enter the business world. But every now and then I like to dip my feet into unchartered waters, to come up from the Cox basement and see what’s going on with those Jets on the other side of the Boulevard. Thankfully, I’ve been able to do just that with the connections I’ve made at SMU and the events those individuals put on.

At SMU, the theatre department performs a couple of mainstage shows each semester that draw in audiences from all over. After I’ve finished reading a few 10-Ks, I’ve found my way at Meadows watching mainstage shows such as The Women, Black Snow, Middletown and countless others. Outside the mainstage selection of shows, students of the theatre department have made SMUST a force to be reckoned with. SMUST, or SMU Student Theatre, is an organization that puts on many shows throughout the semester that are written and directed by SMU students, starring SMU students. Personally, I think these shows are much more entertaining and memorable as they’re a bit of a grassroots movement. I see my friends writing and acting out the most amazing scripts and stories weekly and the best part, it’s free to attend. Past shows have included shows like “Am I Blue”, “Frack” and “Shakespeare’s Star Wars” just to name a few.  I love that SMU allows me to work at a Bloomberg Terminal for hours and then watch free theatre performances all in the same night.

I’ve seen both sides of the boulevard, I’ve been a Shark during the day and a Jet at night. As I finish up my first semester of senior year I encourage everyone entering college in the next year to see what the other side is like and leave that comfort zone you create for yourself at school from time to time. Thankfully at SMU, due to its size and driven student population it’s not hard to create both a comfort zone and get out of it whenever you want.

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Life Around Dallas: D-town Boogie

UntitledBy Austin Whittle

Dallas is no stranger to the music scene. Headline artists such as Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Drake and Lil Wayne have all made recent appearances in the Big D. Although not as well known as the artists I have previously mentioned, Echosmith, The Mowgli’s, and American Authors came to town as well, and my friends and I could not pass up the opportunity to see them. With Dallas being the affordable city that it is, tickets were less than $25! The bands played at the Granada—a small, local theatre less than a mile away from campus. All three acts were amazing and unforgettable.

As a total foodie, the night was made complete by some amazing food as well. Before the concert, my friends and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in Dallas called The Old Monk. The food did not end at dinner though! After the concert and to end the night, we all childishly indulged in some popsicles from an ice cream truck just outside the theatre. Overall, it was another exciting night in Dallas.

Coming from a small town in Georgia where the only fun thing to do is go to the movies and the only restaurants are chain restaurants, I can easily say how thankful I am to go to school in a city with such an awesome and accessible entertainment and food scene.

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On the Way Out: A Senior’s Perspective

By John Morrow

It’s a bittersweet place in which I find myself—two days away from my last undergraduate final exam. Although I won’t participate in graduation ceremonies until May due to a full-time internship next semester, my undergraduate education at SMU will effectively come to an end when I turn that last test on Wednesday morning. Now that I find myself at the end of my three-and-a-half years, I can honestly buy into the cliché. College goes by too quickly; so make sure you take advantage of every opportunity. It feels like just yesterday I was moving into Virginia-Snider to begin my freshman year with my parents before shipping off to Mustang Corral.

Fast forward to now, and I realize how much I’ve been able to do and what I’ve accomplished all because of the opportunities SMU provides its students. In three and a half years, I’ve studied abroad in England, joined two Greek organizations, worked four internships, been a student ambassador, forged lifelong friendships, and still had time to graduate with honors with a history minor and accounting major. None of these would have been possible had SMU not provided the requisite programs, support systems, and facilities for me to take advantage of each.

I am so thankful for all of my experiences during my time at SMU. So thankful in fact, that I decided I wanted a bit more. While my undergraduate career is coming to an end, this university isn’t rid of me yet. Sorry, but you’re all going to have to put up with me for one more year while I pursue my masters degree in accounting from the Cox School of Business. I just wasn’t quite ready for this good thing to end.

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Taking a Study Break with Meadows Performances

Untitled5​By Katelyn Hall

I’m a journalism major in Meadows School of the Arts, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not artsy. I can’t draw, I’m tone deaf, and I trip on my own feet.

But my artistic deficiencies make me appreciate the work my peers in Meadows do even more. I have friends doing a gallery shows as senior art majors, Brown Bag performances in dance, and black box theater performances as theater and film majors. The best part about all this talent in Meadows is that I get to see all of it for free.

There are countless productions every week. I already have time carved out of my study schedule to see my friend perform in a theater production this evening and I can’t wait to get into the holiday spirit with the Belle Tones and Southern Gentlemen winter performance.

There’s something really magical about getting to experience amazing art on campus – especially when I’m cramming for my finals and writing Spanish research papers.

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Pony Up, Mr. President

By Carissa Laughlin

I was very fortunate as a student at SMU to have the opportunity to attend a presentation from former President George W. Bush about his new book, 41: A Portrait of My Father. This opportunity was provided to me from the Hunt Leadership Scholars program and the generosity of the Hunt family.

Having the opportunity to attend such a prestigious event is something I will never forget. Hearing former President George W. Bush talk about his childhood and growing up with his father as President of the United States was a very unique experience. Former President George W. Bush was extremely candid and open with the crowd, which made everyone lean in to listen to the stories of exchanges between father and son, in and outside the White House.

Untitled2(Pictured (left to right): Carissa Laughlin, Emily Hegi, & Elizabeth Dubret at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU with signed copies of 41: A Portrait of My Father)

One of my favorite stories was when former President George W. Bush was very young, and stole a set of toy soldiers from a local shop in Midland, Texas. His father noticed the toy soldiers and asked where they came from, and former President George W. Bush not wanting to lie, proceeded to tell the truth. Admitting to the stolen items, former President George W. Bush was escorted by his father back to the store, and was told to apologize and return the items. Former President George W. Bush said this was how his father would discipline. It was much more about learning and growth from the experience, and making things right. Though it is easy to put leaders up on a pedestal and forget that they are normal people, hearing these stories really humanized two historical leaders of this country.

These types of opportunities are often made available to students at SMU through on-campus events, the Tate Lecture Series, and on-campus programming from student organizations.

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Celebration of Lights: Behind the Scenes

SMU_celebration_of_Lights_CrowdBy Jack Murphy

Without a doubt, one of the most popular traditions SMU hosts in the winter is the famed “Celebration of Lights.”  Students since the 1970s will talk about their magical experience singing along to Christmas carols with their friends while sipping on hot chocolate on the steps of Dallas Hall.  I am proud to say Celebration of Lights is my favorite event not just because of the night’s magical allure, but because this December I was given the opportunity to plan all the festivities.


One thing that makes SMU so great is they treat their students with opportunities that other universities cannot offer.  Other schools only let the administration take part in organizing their Homecomings, Family Weekends, and big traditions on campus.  At SMU, it’s up to student organizations to plan the university’s largest events.  I was tasked with organizing Celebration of Lights (also known to our planning committee as “COL”) for 2014 and I was up for the challenge.  After putting together a committee of experienced and ambitious students, we started our planning process.  We chose that this year’s event would feature a live webcast for alumni and parents to watch from anywhere in the country.  This new addition was a huge step in COL history, and our team is very proud to be the first to bring SMU’s biggest tradition into everyone’s home and to their smartphones.


At the end of the day, we put up more than 140,000 Christmas lights and over 300 luminarias lining the sidewalks, set out 140 gallons of hot chocolate and apple cider and 40 dozen Tiff’s Treats cookies, sponsored 82 children from the Dallas CASA Angel Tree program who have been affected by domestic violence, listened to SMU’s talented students perform songs of the season, SMU President R. Gerald Turner read the Christmas story, and we lit up Dallas Hall the SMU Christmas tree as we celebrated the holiday season.


You can watch Celebration of Lights 2014 here at!


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Celebration of Lights: A Senior’s Perspective

Untitled5By Taylor Thompson

With finals approaching (actually, they start in 3 days, yikes!) it’s always nice to take a break with friends to celebrate the holidays. My favorite tradition that we have on campus is Celebration of Lights. Students, faculty, staff, and families from about the Park Cities all come together on Dallas Hall Lawn to eat warm cookies, drink hot chocolate, and sing everyone’s favorite carols. The entire lawn is lit up by the most beautiful glow from all the lit candles as we stand together as a community. Now you must be wondering, if this event is called Celebration of Lights, where are all the lights?! The last song we all sing together is Silent Night. After the first verse, 138,000 white lights that are wrapped around Dallas Hall and all the trees on the Lawn are all turned on at once. It’s hands down the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen when it comes to Christmas lights. For me, this year was particularly special as it was my last Celebration of Lights as a student. Standing with all my friends, I was reminded at how many memories I have created and how many life-long friends I’ve made over my past 4 years at SMU. As the temperature keeps dropping, our planners become more filled with review sessions, and sweatpants are considered “getting dressed,” Celebration of Lights couldn’t be a better reminder what this time of hear is all about.

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Celebration of Lights: A Holiday Tradition

By Melody Davis

It’s time for finals now for SMU students – which means late nights studying, extra coffee, stress to pull off those good grades; no surprise there. But finals time also means something else on campus for SMU: Celebration of Lights. This past Monday, I celebrated my fourth but hopefully not last Celebration of Lights ceremony at SMU. Coming back from Thanksgiving break to Celebration of Lights is the perfect transition into the Christmas spirit and semester wrap-up. Celebration of Lights is such a special time with holiday songs, the reading of the Christmas story by President Turner, and the lighting of our already spectacular campus with thousands of beautiful white lights. This year was especially bittersweet, watching the ceremony for my senior year, but also seeing special friends who came back to celebrate with us even after graduation. If I’m lucky enough to stay in Dallas next year, you can bet that I’ll be back to celebrate one of the most wonderful SMU traditions!

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Top 22: The Best Things About Winter

By Laura Spitler

It’s that time of year again! The temperature is dropping, the year is drawing to a close, and the holidays are upon us. Here is my list of 22 of the Best Things about Winter in Dallas:

1.  Cozy SMU Apparel

2.  We get to see snow! …but it doesn’t last long enough to be annoying

3.  Attempting to have a snowball fight with your friends

4.  Getting “Ice Days” off of School

5.  Just when you are getting too cold, there will be a random 70F day

6.  The Russian Ballet performs the Nutcracker at McFarlin Auditorium

7.  Ice skating around the giant tree at the Galleria

8.  Horse-drawn carriages through Highland Park to look at Christmas Lights

9.  The Tomato Basil Soup from La Madeline

10. Procrastinating studying by watching the classic holiday movies

11. Therapy dogs at Fondren Library

12. Warm holiday brews from Café 100

13. Choir performances at Meadows

14. Holiday parties in your residence hall or with your campus organizations

15. Getting a nice LONG winter break at home with your family

16. Fondren library brings in free food during exam week

17. The window displays at Neiman Marcus downtown

18. Klyde Warren Park is beautiful at night

19. Celebration of Lights at SMU

20. We get TWO reading days (no class!) before final exams

21. Campus organizations sell hot chocolate by the west bridge as fundraisers

22. Gingerbread cupcakes from Sprinkles

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