U.S. Department of State issues Worldwide Travel Alert through Feb. 24, 2016

U.S. Department of State sealThe U.S. Department of State has issued a Worldwide Travel Alert that alerts U.S. citizens to possible risks of travel due to increased terrorist threats.

If students, faculty or staff are planning to travel internationally, please consult the travel alert and country-specific information.

The State Department says U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation; be aware of immediate surroundings; avoid large crowds or crowded places; and exercise particular caution at holiday festivals or events.

State Department security tips include:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

> Follow updates from the U.S. Department of State on Twitter at @TravelGov or on Facebook

> Find information about advance international travel registration for SMU-affiliated programs or activities

— Sarah Hanan

Junior Rahfin Faruk receives 2014 Truman Scholarship

SMU junior Rahfin Faruk, 2014 Truman Scholar

SMU junior Rahfin Faruk has been named a 2014 Truman Scholar. The prestigious and highly competitive national scholarship recognizes college students who are “change agents,” with outstanding leadership potential and a commitment to public service careers.

Faruk was one of 59 students, mostly college juniors, from 52 U.S. colleges and universities selected to receive the award, which provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. He is the 14th Truman Scholar at SMU since the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975. He was one of 655 candidates nominated by 293 colleges and universities for one of academia’s most sought-after awards.

Two other SMU juniors also were selected as finalists for the Truman Scholarship: Prithvi Rudrappa, a Dedman College Scholar majoring in biochemistry in Dedman College and finance in Cox School of Business, with a minor in Spanish; and Fantine Giap, a President’s Scholar majoring in biological sciences and minoring in mathematics and psychology in Dedman College.

Faruk, of Richardson, Texas, is an SMU President’s Scholar majoring in economics, political science, public policy and religious studies, with a minor in mathematics, in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. He plans to pursue an MBA and a master’s in public policy to work in the social enterprise sector.

“It’s fitting that the Truman Scholarship Foundation honored Rahfin Faruk as a change agent,” said SMU Provost Paul Ludden. “Rahfin not only has excelled academically, but he also has applied his knowledge and research skills to important issues facing the North Texas and global community. With his record of servant leadership on campus and in the community, Rahfin is an SMU world changer with big ideas who no doubt will make a significant contribution as a Truman Scholar.”

“As someone who wants to break down sectoral boundaries, I was attracted to the societal impact I could have as a Truman Scholar,” Faruk says. “Truman Scholars are everywhere – in a wide array of sectors and functions – and they are working to serve humanity in better ways.”

In his graduate studies, Faruk intends to focus on improving financial inclusion, the financial system that gives the poor and marginalized access to credit, savings and insurance services. At SMU, Faruk founded a microfinance initiative called Green Riba, which provides zero-interest loans to low-income entrepreneurs in West Dallas. He twice was awarded grants for his organization through Big iDeas at SMU, an undergraduate research program.

“Services many take for granted — a savings account, free check cashing and ATM access — cost the poor disproportionately more money,” Faruk says. “Through my work with my microfinance organization, I came to realize that financial inclusion should have a bigger seat at the political table because it is interconnected to so many other aspects of life, such as health care, education and upward mobility.”

Written by Sarah Hanan

> Read the full story from SMU News

SMU Summer Studies offers options in Dallas, Taos and abroad

SMU Summer Studies popsicle logoSMU Summer Studies has announced a slate of more than 400 courses for the University’s 2014 summer terms. Summer courses allows students to make progress on their degrees, change or add majors or minors, and add value to their education with smaller courses that cost less than regular-term courses.

The schedule includes:

MayTerm on the Dallas campus: MayTerm offers 27 courses May 15-30, allowing students to earn three hours of credit in fewer than three weeks. The course schedule is now onlineInitial applications are due Thursday, April 17. Students may apply for MayTerm online.

Summer on the Dallas campus: The full Summer Term runs June 2-Aug. 5; Summer I courses are June 2-July 1; Summer II courses are July 7-Aug. 5. Financial aid, campus housing and meal plans are available. SMU Summer Term course schedules and other information are online.

SMU-in-Taos: Northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains provide a spectacular backdrop for classes in art, archaeology, biology, business, history, marketing and more. The May Term at SMU-in-Taos is May 14-31; the June Term is June 4-July 3; the Mini June Term is June 4-21; and the August Term is Aug. 5-22. The SMU-in-Taos summer schedule is now online.

SMU Abroad:  SMU offers a number of summer learning, service and internship opportunities in locales ranging from Paris to Bali.

Written by Sarah Hanan

> More information online at smu.edu/summer

Students can make connections at Spring 2014 Career and Internship Fair

SMU students will have the opportunity to connect with 117 companies and more than 225 employer representatives at the University’s Spring 2014 Career and Internship Fair Monday, Feb. 24. Employers attending include the U.S. Department of Labor, Neiman Marcus, Peace Corps, McAfee Inc., American Airlines, KPMG, Citi, Ernst and Young, Deliotte, JCPenney and many others.

Sponsored by SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center, the fair takes place noon to 4 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

Darin Ford, director of the Hegi Career Center, says the event can open a variety of doors for students, whether it is their first semester or their last. “For the first time, we have partnered with eight SMU graduate school departments who will be in attendance recruiting students for graduate school opportunities on the Hilltop,” he says.

“Be prepared,” he adds. “Students who do their research always stand out above the rest.”

> Watch a video of the February 2013 Career and Internship Fair by Myles Taylor of SMU News video

To prepare for the fair, Hegi Career Center counselors suggest:

  • Dress for success by wearing professional business attire;
  • Print out and bring multiple copies of your résumé for the opportunity to network with multiple companies;
  • Research the companies that will be in attendance and choose the ones that interest you most;
  • Come early to meet with “fresh and ready” recruiters.

The center offers students and alumni multiple resources in addition to the biannual fair, including:

  • One-on-one meetings with counselors, career assessments and a four-year plan;
  • Discussions with industry panels composed of employers who provide professional advice;
  • Workshops on interviewing, résumés and other career skills;
  • MustangTRAK, an online database featuring hundreds of jobs and internships, and UCAN, or University Career Action Network, a shared internship database among universities across the country.

Alumni are invited to share their career expertise and mentor SMU students. Learn more at SMU Connection.

Written by Sarah Hanan

SMU prepares for Founders’ Day 2013, Bush Center dedication

SMU President R. Gerald Turner sent the following information to students, faculty and staff regarding SMU Founders’ Day and the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center:

April 2013 will be a month for history-making at SMU, as the George W. Bush Presidential Center is dedicated.  Although the dedication will bring an unprecedented influx of special visitors to campus, the University will remain open on dedication day, Thursday, April 25, so that the core function of teaching will continue uninterrupted.

CentennialOn SMU’s Founders’ Day, Friday, April 19, students, faculty and staff are invited to a mid-day celebration on the Quad serving as official welcome to the George W. Bush Presidential Center. That afternoon the University will also welcome several hundred SMU alumni and parents to “Inside SMU,” a program of short classes with faculty, and other events.

From Wednesday, April 24, through Friday, April 26, the George W. Bush Presidential Center will be dedicated with a series of events planned by the Bush Foundation. Dedication events are by invitation only, primarily for officials who served in the Bush administration, dignitaries and partners of the Bush Center. However, students, faculty and staff are invited to watch a simulcast of the dedication in McFarlin Auditorium on Thursday, April 25, starting at 9 a.m. for check-in and ending at noon. In addition, as with the groundbreaking of the Bush Center, SMU will erect an outdoor screen for another viewing opportunity.  In the afternoon, several University libraries and the Meadows Museum will hold open houses that students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend. We hope that Bush Center visitors will stroll around the campus to enjoy our welcoming environment and special resources.

The SMU Boulevard Block Party and Lighting of Freedom Hall, April 25, for faculty, staff and students, on the intramural field, starting at 6 p.m., co-sponsored by the Bush Center and the University. This will be a festive, entertainment-filled event with special guests and surprises and will culminate with the lighting of Freedom Hall atop the Bush Center.

A special SMU Day at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. On Monday, April 29, this historic facility will be open just to SMU students, faculty and staff, in advance of the public opening May 1. In addition, while general visitors to the Library and Museum must purchase tickets, admission will remain free for faculty, staff and students with valid campus IDs. It’s just one way that the SMU community is being thanked for our partnership with the Bush Center in supporting its construction, dedication and ongoing operations. Students should watch their e-mail for more information on these opportunities.

Compiled by Sarah Hanan

Students visit legislature in support of Tuition Equalization Grants

Texas State Capitol BuilldingSeveral SMU students are meeting with state legislators at the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 27, to express their support of increasing funding to the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant program.

Funding for the TEG program, which provides financial aid to low- and middle-income students attending 39 private Texas colleges and universities, was reduced by 20 percent during the last Legislative session. The program now serves 5,000 fewer students than it did in 2009 and meets less than half of demonstrated student need for the grants.

During fiscal year 2012 the program awarded grants averaging $3,309 to 25,474 Texans, more than half of whom are minorities. Nearly 65 percent are Pell grant recipients, the state’s neediest students.

“Tuition Equalization Grants directly help students at SMU and at other private institutions of higher learning in Texas achieve their academic and professional goals,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The grants also help private institutions meet Texas’ growing need for an educated workforce in today’s competitive economy, while reducing taxpayer costs for higher education. We urge the Legislature to restore funding and increase the number of students who benefit from Tuition Equalization Grants.”

The TEG program saves taxpayers money every year by reducing the state funds appropriated for public university students to pay costs not covered by state tuition. The average grant received by a TEG student this year was less than half the subsidy provided students at state universities.

At SMU, nearly 1,500 students are TEG recipients. Those visiting Austin include Chanesia Johnson of Dallas, a junior biology and psychology major; Tyrone Davis of Dallas, a junior chemistry and biology major; and Nayelly Dominguez of Fort Worth, a sophomore majoring in economics, French and engineering management, information and systems.

“TEG has helped me attend SMU and focus on the many opportunities here,” Dominguez says. “I’m able to triple-major, have an internship and be involved on campus, including with the Hegi Family Career Development Center Ambassadors and Crain Leadership Conference. Education opens the doors to everything, and this grant is helping make education possible for me and thousands of students.”

SMU is a member of the nonprofit association Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT), which serves as a voice in government for 39 private institutions. Students attending other ICUT institutions also are visiting Austin to meet with their legislators and express support for TEG.

Written by Sarah Hanan

> Read the full story at the SMU Parents blog, smu.edu/parents