Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences History Psychology

Advocating for a SAFE Dallas: Courtney Underwood

Dedman College News

Originally Posted: Jan 1, 2019

Courtney Underwood, ’05, ’08, became a leader in North Texas in promoting programs to assist survivors of sexual assault. She co-founded the Dallas Rape Crisis Center and since 2013 has been the Executive Director of the SANE Initiative in Dallas. Her latest program, Courtney’s SAFE Place, is North Texas’s first community clinic for survivors of sexual violence which opened at Turning Point in Plano on November 13. With this new endeavor and other long-term plans for the future, Underwood continues her tireless efforts to help survivors.

What drew you to SMU when you were deciding on a university? How did you come to a decision?

Being born and raised in the Park Cities, I grew up around the beauty and prestige of SMU. As a high school senior, the biggest draw was knowing that I would be in small classes with professors who were passionate about interacting with students, and I was excited about all that the Honors Program had to offer.

Can you share an experience or two that sums up your experience at SMU best? Is there a particular member of the faculty, project, or course that you would consider to be a defining moment for you?

Can I have a few pages? As a freshman completing a paper as the final for one of Dr. Kathleen Wellman’s classes, I walked into her office to turn in not one final paper, but two—with a backup for the first one if she didn’t like it. She accepted both with an amused smile. That defined my experience with so many SMU professors: they were willing to do extra work, mentor outside of office hours, and never failed to show their excitement with a student who wanted to work hard and learn. Being a TA for the Psychology Department, taking notes when another student was horribly injured in an accident and missing classes, having professors roll their eyes slightly and tell me I could make the paper as long as I wanted—that built a confidence in me that transformed me completely. READ MORE