Meet Cristal Mendez, one of our graduating SMU CAPE Graduate Assistants! Cristal has assisted our office with delivering test prep (SAT and ACT) and short courses. This May, Cristal is earning a master’s degree in higher education from SMU’s Simmons School of Education. Read more about Cristal’s graduate student experience here:

What is it like to work at SMU CAPE?

Working at CAPE is very rewarding. I get to work with smart, wonderful people on really fun and fast-paced courses and programs. There’s a huge variety of things I get to work on, so there is never a dull moment!

What is something you learned/discovered at work that surprised you?

I learned the value of diversifying my skills. I have learned and picked up different skills and knowledge because we work with various systems, tools, and areas. I am always surprised at the number of steps involved in delivering one test prep course!

Tell us about the task you did at work that truly challenged you and why?

Tasks related to our curriculum management system have challenged me because it’s like learning a new language!

If you had to live by one quote, what would it be?

“Viva la Vida” (Long live life) is Frida Kahlo’s last painting, and the words are inscribed in one of the watermelons she painted. Although it is not a quote, I like to live by it because although life can be hard sometimes, it can also be beautiful.

What was your favorite class you have studied at SMU and why?

Access and Equity in Higher Education has been my favorite class because it allowed me to learn about some of the ways campus climate can contribute to student success for underrepresented students.

If you had one piece of advice to give to someone starting their graduate/undergraduate studies at SMU, what would you share and why?

Don’t be afraid to connect with other students, staff, and faculty and ask for help! I was involved with the Higher Education Student Association and got connected to CAPE because I expressed to the other graduate students in the organization that I was looking for a graduate assistantship.

What is next for you?

I will be joining Communities Foundation of Texas as an Associate with their Educate Texas team!