Four years ago in volatile southern Baghdad, Captain Troy Vaughn ’11 was in charge of a 32-member scout platoon for the Army, leading more than 250 high-risk counter-insurgency and reconnaissance missions over 15 months. In addition to ensuring the success of the missions and the safety of his troops while dodging snipers’ bullets and searching for Al-Qaeda, Vaughn found that “everyday reality” also commanded his attention. “Real life doesn’t stop for the soldiers, who can be dealing with all kinds of issues – from family to financial to emotional,” Vaughn says. “My challenge was to take care of the soldiers – ensure they were grounded emotionally and spiritually and had all the support they needed to do their jobs effectively.” For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star and rated top platoon leader by his battalion commander. Today Vaughn, 28, is earning an M.B.A. at the Cox School of Business, where he has studied operations management and honed his leadership skills. Vaughn is one of the nearly 150 undergraduate and graduate students attending SMU on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which provides education benefits to military veterans and their dependents. The bill is a 2008 update to the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, which awarded scholarships to World War II veterans to colleges of their choice. However, beginning in August 2011, changes to the Post-9/11 GI Bill create a nationwide cap of $17,500 a [...]
Throughout red-and-blue SMU, green practices have become a way of life as the University community rallies to cut waste and conserve precious resources. In Cockrell-McIntosh Hall, Pamela Varela’s small refrigerator used to be stocked with single-use plastic water bottles. Now Varela, a resident assistant, relies on reusable bottles. “I used to think that throwing all those plastic water bottles into the recycling bin was enough, until I realized that it’s best not to have a bottle to recycle in the first place,” says Varela, a sophomore environmental engineering major. She also is a member of the SMU Environmental Society and the campus co-chair of RecycleMania, a national intercollegiate recycling competition. Not far from Varela’s South Quad living quarters, a crew completes the installation of a new chiller for Barr Pool. The high-efficiency system captures energy that would otherwise evaporate into the atmosphere and converts it into heat. As a result, the University will save about $80,000 a year in heating costs for the outdoor swimming pool. On the west side of Bishop Boulevard, students gather for lunch at the campus’ main dining hall, the Real Food on Campus (RFoC) in Umphrey Lee, where trays have been removed. That action has yielded substantial decreases not only in water consumption but also in the amount of food thrown away, according to Michael Marr, SMU director of dining services and resident district manager for Aramark, which provides dining [...]
A thread of entrepreneurship weaves through the history of SMU from the beginning. In asking “What is our duty to all the coming generations of Texans until the end of time? … ,” members of the Commission of Education, Methodist Episcopal Church, South of Texas demonstrated game-changing foresight in 1911. They spotted an opportunity in a growing city and joined forces with like-minded civic leaders to bring the University to life. Fast forward six decades: When the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship opened in August 1970, “we could identify only a handful of universities that even taught a course in entrepreneurship,” says Jerry White, director of the institute in the Cox School of Business. “Today, if you don’t have a substantial entrepreneurship education program, then you won’t have a business school.” The institute was established with the support of W.W. Caruth Jr., son of W.W. Caruth Sr., who donated land to SMU in 1911. “W.W. Caruth Jr. felt that universities were training students to be employees of large organizations, and that’s not what he chose to be,” White says. “He was ahead of the curve in recognizing that business schools needed to address entrepreneurship education.” While White says there’s no hard and fast definition of “entrepreneurship,” he boils it down to “building a business where none existed before and pursuing the opportunity without regard to resources you currently control.” “Innovation is not entrepreneurship,” [...]
When Oprah Winfrey took her show on the road in December, journalism graduate Julene Fleurmond ’09 was among the “Ultimate Viewers” treated to a trip to Australia. When producers were searching for people inspired by Winfrey for the audience of the show’s final-season premiere, Fleurmond caught their attention. Her organization, Young Dreamer Enterprises, and website advance creativity and entrepreneurship in young people through online activities, inspirational posts and videos. “Seeing Oprah in person was a surreal experience and reinforced my belief that by pursuing your passion and purpose, your dreams can come true,” says Fleurmond, who is now working toward a Master’s in public health at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. While an SMU undergraduate, Fleurmond received a Big iDeas grant for her website. Sponsored by SMU’s Office of the Provost, the Big iDeas program funds selected undergraduate research proposals aimed at addressing issues that confront major metropolitan areas like Dallas. “Having recognition and support from a program like Big iDeas encourages you to make your idea bigger,” she says.
Alison Bailey Vercruysse’s head for numbers earned her success in banking – including a stint at the Federal Reserve in Chicago – but her heart wasn’t in it. She needed a creative outlet. After trying everything from art to yoga, she started playing with her food – tweaking homemade granola recipes until she got it right. In 2008 Vercruysse ’92 started 18 Rabbits, “simple, authentic granola and bars.” Her company’s unusual moniker comes from a prolific childhood pet named Blackjack. “We’re hoping to continue to grow and expand – like rabbits,” she quips. Today her products, all of which are certified organic, are sold at Whole Foods, Central Market and many other outlets around the country. By harnessing “pony power,” Vercruysse moved into an important national market and found a key employee. “At my mother’s (Kay Hunter ’93) urging, I introduced myself to David Cush at an alumni function in 2008,” recalls the San Francisco-based entrepreneur. Cush ’82, ’83 is president and CEO of Virgin America Airlines; he serves as a Second Century Celebration Steering Committee co-chair. “He was very gracious, gave me his card and suggested I send him a box of samples.” She did, and 18 Rabbits Gracious Granola is now on the airline’s breakfast rotation for a second time. Two years later, the tables were turned when Erin McCormick ’09 approached Vercruysse. McCormick, a dance major, was searching for a [...]
Chris Myatt ’91 had the perfect ingredients for a startup – a good idea, a spare room and a lawyer-partner – wife Sally Hatcher ’91. The couple founded Precision Photonics, which specializes in precision optical components, in Boulder, Colorado, in 2000. The telecommunications boom was at its peak, so the timing seemed right. “We started as a telecom business. When the bubble burst in 2001, 70 percent of our customers went out of business and those remaining weren’t spending money,” says Hatcher, who earned undergraduate degrees in philosophy and history from SMU and a J.D. from the University of Colorado. “It took ‘enduring perseverance’ to keep going.” The little company that could gradually morphed into a successful “specialty optics shop,” Hatcher explains. “We improve the performance of lasers used in almost any industry: the medical field, in aerospace and even large industrial lasers that precision-cut materials in factories.” While retooling the company’s focus, Myatt, who holds undergraduate degrees in math and physics from SMU and a Ph.D. in atomic physics from the University of Colorado, became interested in medical testing equipment. His “little side science project” has grown into a separate business: MBio Diagnostics. Myatt developed a portable, affordable device for blood tests that is ideally suited for use in emerging nations where small clinics rarely have diagnostic equipment. Next month field trials of the device will begin Kenya. “Getting results in [...]
TOMS Shoes isn’t just another footwear company and founder Blake Mycoskie isn’t a cookie-cutter executive. His title synthesizes an unusual corporate philosophy: He doesn’t call himself “chief executive officer.” Rather, he’s the self-proclaimed “chief shoe giver.” TOMS – the name is derived from Shoes For Tomorrow – operates on a one-for-one giving model: For each pair of TOMS shoes sold, one pair is given away. As of 2010, more than 1 million pairs of shoes had been donated to needy children in over 20 countries, including the United States. Mycoskie started the enterprise in 2006 after a trip to Argentina, where he was moved by a group of youngsters with no shoes to protect their feet. When he returned to the U.S., he decided that writing a check wasn’t enough and developed the idea for TOMS. Today, a range of designs for men, women and children bears the distinctive TOMS logo. Over a decade ago, Mycoskie started his first company, a laundry service, while an SMU student. He later created and sold a billboard company and worked in TV development and entertainment marketing before finding the perfect fit. What’s his next step? Mycoskie recently announced his newest one-for-one venture, TOMS Eyewear. Each pair of TOMS sunglasses sold will support eye care for an individual, including medical treatment, sight-saving surgery and prescription eyeglasses. The program will start in Nepal, Cambodia and Tibet.
Like many young professionals, Emily Dawson ’09 and Taylor Brown wanted to give back to the community in some way but could never find the time, especially during the busy holiday season. “We’re both analysts who sit in front of computer screens for large parts of our day,” says Dawson, a financial analyst for Texas Capital Bank. “Our goal was to come up with a streamlined holiday donation process that people could do in a few minutes – when it’s most convenient for them.” Late last year she and Brown founded Giverosity, a non-profit corporation that blends the ease of online shopping with the enjoyment of creating a memorable Christmas for Dallas-area children in need. They partnered with Toys Unique!, a Dallas specialty store, to offer a selection of age-appropriate items on the Giverosity.com website. All toys purchased were donated to the Interfaith Housing Coalition, which provides transitional housing and support services to homeless families. “The idea came to us just two months before Christmas, so preparations were fast and furious. Due to the time crunch, our marketing efforts were focused primarily on social media," says Dawson, who majored in marketing at SMU. “Our amazing friends and a local news station also helped us reach additional charitable donors.” In just three weeks, donors gave more than $6,000 in toys. Over 400 toys were donated to Interfaith Housing, which organized a “Christmas store” where [...]
As the Second Century Celebration unfolds, SMU Magazine will remember the past through the reproduction of content from various issues through the decades. Visit the Roaring Twenties in this first installment.
Reminisce and reconnect with classmates and friends at Homecoming, November 3-6