Avery Acker ’16 was the Academic All-American of the Year for all of Division I volleyball. She chose SMU for its academic rigor, so she could pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

“I grew up in a very small town, and I just loved it. We hunted, we fished and we played every sport imaginable because there was really nothing else to do,”
recalls Acker. At a young age she developed a passion for playing volleyball and an interest in pursuing a career in medicine. She knew SMU was the right school for her when volleyball coach Lisa Seifert showed the same passion and commitment to success on the court and in the classroom.

At SMU, Acker discovered the benefits of SMU’s Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, which is open to all students and which helped Acker develop the time management skills she needed to navigate the requirements of volleyball and studying. “We would have weights in the morning, class from 9:30 to 3:30 and practice from 4 to 7, and then I’d have to stay up and study afterward. The long hours I faced at SMU prepared me for the long hours I’m now pulling studying medicine.”

Her college experience wasn’t all work. “My most memorable experiences at SMU were the times spent with my teammates, either on the road or off the court.” Like many students, Acker always looked forward to SMU’s signature holiday tradition: “The Celebration of Lights really made me feel at home and like a part of something larger than SMU and volleyball.”

Acker graduated summa cum laude as an accounting major with minors in biology and chemistry. Her achievements at SMU helped her gain admission to McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, where she is interested in studying cancer treatment.

“SMU has completely shaped my path. I don’t think I would be in the situation I am in right now if I hadn’t gone to SMU,” says Acker. “I didn’t have a good idea of what rigor was until I got to SMU, and I didn’t realize what hard work meant until I had to work hard 24/7 to accomplish what I have.”