Volleyball standout Avery Acker has been named the American Athletic Conference nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. Acker, who graduated from SMU in December, led the NCAA in assists per set while directing the Mustangs to the conference championship and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. She graduated summa cum laude with a 3.941 grade-point average as an accounting major with minors in chemistry and biological sciences. She begins medical school in Houston in August.
Elizabeth Holzhall Richard credits one of her Dedman School of Law professors with urging her to take the Foreign Service exam, the first step in her long and lauded career in the United States diplomatic corps. In her 30 years of service, she has held posts in some of the world’s hot spots, including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. She grew up in Hammond, Indiana, and was interviewed by the Northwest Indiana Times for a story published on June 21.
Michelle Merrill ’06, ’12, assistant conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, is among 11 recipients of 2016 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Awards for young conductors with promising careers. Merrill is in her second season as assistant conductor and Phillip and Lauren Fisher Community Ambassador with the symphony.
The story of Jennifer Burr Altabef’s life could have been very different. If not for scholarship support, she might never had made it to the Hilltop. Now a successful attorney, she says, “The simple truth is that scholarships change lives.”
Jewelry designer Ali Howell '86 is among 13 winners of the Belk Southern Designer Showcase. Jewelry maker Ali Howell ’86 is among 13 winners of the second annual Belk Southern Designer Showcase. Howell, the founder and designer of ali & bird jewelry, was selected from nearly 300 entrants. Her pieces will be sold in Belk department stores throughout the country and online in spring 2014. Howell, an Atlanta resident, started ali & bird in 2009. She describes her original pieces as “affordable statement jewelry that reflect current fashion and color trends, bringing modern flair to classic looks.” The jewelry is handcrafted with semi-precious stones in the United States and is sold by more than 75 retailers. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Howell dived into the design realm as an SMU student when she landed a summer job in the Dallas Market Center showroom of a friend’s mother. “That led to an internship and a job offer after graduation,” she says. After earning degrees in advertising and psychology from SMU, she moved to New York City where she launched a career in visual merchandising. Howell’s talent for mixing bold colors and classic designs served her well as the creative force behind the marketing, showroom displays and advertising campaigns for Herend USA, a fine china company, for 10 years. At first, jewelry making was strictly a hobby. “I’ve always been a creative person, and [...]