Announcements News

Engage Dallas participates in Interdisciplinary Institute research cluster

During the 2020-21 academic year, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute (DCII) is sponsoring 25 Research Clusters exploring a varied and exciting range of topics. Engage Dallas will be participating in a research cluster entitled “At the Intersection of Nonprofits, Higher Education and Community Engagement.”

Led by Drs. Sondra N. Barringer, B. Kathleen Gallagher, and Alicia C. Schortgen, the cluster seeks to focus on the intersection of nonprofits, public administration, higher education, and sociology. The research cluster seek to expand understanding of the relationships between higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations in the DFW metroplex.

Engage Dallas is “excited by the possibility of expanding our SMU network and what that can mean for informing our work in South and West Dallas”, said Dr. Dustin Grabsch. Grabsch is co-lead of Engage Dallas’ Assessment and Research sub-team. Engage Dallas implementation team members will participate in planned activities this academic year.

Planned activities include four working group meetings and a symposium with a guest speaker.

Announcements Armstrong Commons Boaz Commons Cockrell-McIntosh Commons Crum Commons Kathy Crow Commons Loyd Commons McElvaney Commons MHPS Commons Morrison-McGinnis Commons Virginia-Snider Commons Ware Commons

Inaugural Engage Dallas Student Directors announced

Audrey Courreges

Engage Dallas Student Director for Armstrong Commons

Why I Serve: 

Engage Dallas is a unique opportunity for SMU students to be real world changers in the Dallas community. While Dallas shines as one of the fastest growing cities in America, there are several unseen problems in the metroplex that need to be addressed. That’s where Engage Dallas comes in. We can connect SMU students to service projects and make real progress in our local communities.

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Audrey Perovich

Engage Dallas Student Director for MHPS Commons

Why I Serve:

The mission of Engage Dallas is something I am looking forward to because I can work with others to encourage the MHPS community to come together in using our time and resources to help those in need beyond our college campus. I am excited for this opportunity because I believe that we are called to be a light in everything we are involved in. Each time I serve is a tangible way that I can show Christ’s love.

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Eduardo Yanez Pastene

Engage Dallas Student Director for Virginia-Snider Commons

Why I Serve: 

Dallas is a city that seen me grow professionally. Also, it enriched my journey and making me feel just like at home. Without a doubt, engage in Dallas is a beautiful way of giving back.

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Emma Siegel

Engage Dallas Student Director for Loyd Commons

Why I Serve:

I serve the local Dallas community to develop a more open minded and empathetic perspective on life. I believe that by helping others, you become a better version of your own self. I am extremely excited to encourage SMU students to participate in serving because I believe that it will allow them to meet new people, discover new things about themselves and others, and lastly, feel fulfilled and as if they have made an impact.

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Heidy Cortez

Engage Dallas Student Director for Crum Commons

Why I Serve: 

Dallas is my hometown and it has given me many beautiful memories. The least I can do is to give back to the community. Helping others is what keeps me going and I couldn’t be more excited to do it through SMU!

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Kami Busbee

Engage Dallas Student Director for Cockrell-McIntosh Commons

Why I Serve: 

I serve so that I can give back to my community and meet new people along the way. I enjoy broadening the service I have done as it makes me a more well-rounded person. I find it important to get other students excited about service opportunities by showing them how much fun it can be. Engage Dallas excites me because of how much potential it holds, especially with all of the creative minds that I know are working behind it.

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Kirk Thomas

Engage Dallas Student Director for Ware Commons

Why I Serve:

Sustainability. I strive to help people be sustainable in jobs, social life, family. My goal is to see the big picture and find a way to not only help someone today, but to find a way for them to be better off tomorrow. Engage Dallas is our opportunity to shape the lives of our neighbors. Every person we help can go on to help others; that should be the ultimate goal: a sustainable cycle of lifting people up and giving them a path forward.

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Madison Leyens

Engage Dallas Student Director for McElvaney Commons

Why I Serve:

I am a big believer in the power of community service to transform the servant’s perspective of community, to unite individuals through a shared objective, and to teach how to proactively address the needs of others. SMU shapes world-changers, and the Engage Dallas program is dedicated to carrying out that mission by building students into servant leaders and sending them out into the world to make a difference. While the impact this program will have on Dallas and beyond will undoubtedly be significant and powerful to witness, I am most excited to see how the introduction of a culture of servant leadership will enhance the SMU community and all aspects of the student experience

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Melanie Wright

Engage Dallas Student Director for Boaz Commons

Why I Serve:

Having worked on the initiative that led to Engage Dallas, I am excited to be included as the initiative turns into reality. Community service has been a significant part of my life, and I am looking forward to being able to continue this work as well as assist others in it as well! I look forward to seeing how Engage Dallas will encourage students to give back to the city we call home and become aware of how they can help the community around them.

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Natesa Vaidya

Engage Dallas Student Director for Morrison-McGinnis Commons

Why I Serve:

I serve to give back to the communities that have taken me in and given me the resources and support to be my best self. Serving has enabled me to understand the social issues nation-wide and globally, and be able to address them. I am excited to work with Engage Dallas for two reasons: 1) as an incentive for more SMU students to be involved with service opportunities and 2) to give back to the DFW community – a community that has graciously accepted me the past three years.

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Victoria Amen

Engage Dallas Student Director for McElvaney Commons

Why I Serve: 

I’m excited about Engage Dallas because it’s important to me to use my blessings to improve the lives and situations of those who need help. Engage Dallas is going to provide a wonderful opportunity to do that as well as involve my peers in community work. I’m looking forward to expanding community outreach and showing my peers the needs that exist and how they can help so that we can all be part of the solution.

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Announcements News

Engage Dallas receives Division of Student Affairs Innovation Grant

SMU DSA Strategic Plan Cover

Engage Dallas, the place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons, received the 2020 Division of Student Affairs Innovation Grant. In the announcement email, vice president for Student Affairs Dr. K.C. Mmeje believes Engage Dallas advances the division’s commitment to innovating our work.

The Division of Student Affairs awarded a $25,000 investment in the Engage Dallas initiative. Dr. Dustin Grabsch, a key partner from Residence Life and Student Housing, reflected on the grant application stating, “We considered the proposal to be innovative, as only six institutions of higher learning currently employ place-based community engagement to our knowledge. Of these institutions, none operationalizes the model via a residential college system.” Engage Dallas offers a unique combination and timing of the initiative with University prioritization that made the proposal a promising contender for the grant.

Melinda Carlson, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and dean of Residence Life and Student Housing, remarked at the incredible potential to solidify the connection between the campus and Dallas communities. “Engage Dallas will bring high impact community engagement opportunities to our Residential Commons communities. Our residential student communities will be able to grow their sense of place in the larger Dallas community.” Carlson believes in the importance of students feeling a sense of connection and belonging to the neighborhood and community in which they live. “Students will learn and experience the importance of engagement with the broader community, a skill that is critical to being a World Changer”

Mmeje continued in his announcement email that each of our eleven Residential Commons will choose a social issue to address a community need in west or south Dallas. “Throughout the academic year each Commons will engage in education and thoughtful dialogue around their issue and the systemic causes helping us to move beyond voluntourism and into true community engagement. While COVID may not allow us to directly serve in communities right away, it does provide us an opportunity to prepare our students to be more informed citizens when the time comes. There is much that can be done virtually and through educational opportunities to set a strong foundation for improving the communities around us.” Student Affairs’ Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement is a key partner facilitating training, educations, and opportunities for students to learn about and address community needs.

Camille McCallum shared, “What I really admire about the Innovation Grant provided to Engage Dallas is how it embodies a commitment both to our students and our community. As the Initiative Manger, I have the privilege of supervising 11 talented student leaders who receive funding for the meaningful work they will do in the Residential Commons and in Dallas.” McCallum closed with saying the grant funding for student staff wages “sends a clear message that direct service is worthy of both SMU’s resources and time.”

Engage Dallas will begin offering service opportunities for residential students in October 2020 and SMU undergraduate students will be able to receive credit toward their Community Engagement Proficiency if they choose.




Announcements News

Engage Dallas team is ready to serve

Engage Dallas announces its implementation team for the 2020 – 2021 academic year.

Engage Dallas is an interoffice SMU initiative dedicated to cultivating community vitality. Dr. Dustin Grabsch, director of Academic Initiatives at SMU and one the core team for Engage Dallas, said, “We are honored by the opportunity to serve Dallas through this new university commitment which animates our mission – world changers are indeed shaped here. We’re excited to help build an initiative that will make our city proud, and that will build the belief that SMU is better because of the city we call home.”

The Engage Dallas initiative is a long-term, place-based community engagement initiative where students residing in eleven Residential Commons have avenues for service in south and west Dallas. Through these experiences, students complete education and training, reflections, and share their talents with community partners from around the city of Dallas.

Erica Zamora, director of the office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement and fellow core team member, remarked about the announcement, “Engage Dallas is launching at a key moment in our world’s history, a time when community need feels amplified due to COVID-19.” Zamora explained the initiative will be launching in the fall semester with education and training for students with direct service experiences likely beginning in spring semester.

The Engage Dallas team for the 2020-2021 academic year includes:

  • Staphany Lopez-Coronado, office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement
  • Dr. Caitlin Anderson, Hilltop Scholars Program
  • Matt Nadler, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Audryanna Reed, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Micah Johnson, Residence Life & Student Housing; office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement
  • Madison Mucci-Ferris, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Dr. David Son, Chemistry; Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Dr. Dayna Oscherwitz, office of General Education
  • Jennifer Ebinger, office of Engaged Learning
  • Camille McCallum, office of Engaged Learning
  • Shelby Martin, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Ryan Leibowitz, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Erica Zamora, office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement
  • Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Residence Life & Student Housing

Zamora and Grabsch shared Engage Dallas student directors will be joining the team in the coming month to begin planning philanthropic and other indirect service opportunities for SMU students.