How does a student know when a professor is an extraordinary teacher? For SMU alumna Laurie-Leigh Nix White ’07, ’08, the proof came at test time, when she would surprise herself by the amount of knowledge she had absorbed on a topic.
“I was exposed to so much information and learned so much, but didn’t always realize it in the moment,” White says. “I particularly remember an accounting class with Professor Wayne Shaw. I would wonder, ‘What is he talking about?’ Then, when taking the exam, I would think, ‘Oh, of course!’”
White earned undergraduate degrees in accounting from the Cox School of Business and political science from Dedman College. In 2008, she received a master’s degree in accounting from Cox. While at SMU, she was a teaching assistant for Shaw, the Helmut Sohmen Endowed Professor in Corporate Governance in SMU’s Cox School of Business. She also tutored students through the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center.
The beautiful campus and a scholarship made the decision to choose SMU an easy one, she says. She not only treasures the education she received, but also the unforgettable experiences she had as a member of the University student community.
“I remember we lost every football game my freshman year, but when we won a game the next season, it was sheer bedlam,” she says.
Now a senior vice president with BVA Group in Houston, a financial advisory firm, White maintains close ties to her alma mater. She serves as president of the Houston Alumni Chapter and is a dedicated donor to the Mustang Club and Cox. She has given faithfully every year since her student days, beginning in 2006.
“The first monetary donation I gave was $20,” she remembers. “You don’t have to start out big. Gifts of all sizes have an impact. It’s about maintaining brand power and supporting SMU’s mission today and in the future.”
White says giving to SMU – particularly to Cox – is her way of showing heartfelt gratitude for life-changing opportunities. “That’s where I grew up, so I want to give back to what has given me so much.”
— Sarah Bennett ’11
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