From California to Country

Alex HibbardLast Thursday, I went country dancing for the 5th time in my eight semesters of college. This was a special moment because not only is it my last semester at SMU, but it was the first time that I stepped foot in Billy Bob’s, one of the most famous country dancing venues in Texas. Billy Bob’s is located outside of Fort Worth and is a popular place for college students to attend on Thursday nights because students get a discounted rate with their SMU ID card.

At 9:30, about 30 of my friends gathered outside the Catholic Center on SMU’s campus and carpooled over to Billy Bob’s, arriving at around 10:15. Once I stepped out of my car, I was amazed at the size of Billy Bob’s. I walked inside and the venue appeared to be even bigger than it did from the outside. They had a large dance floor, tables and chairs everywhere, a stage with a live band, and of course, a mechanical bull.

My friends and I immediately hit the dance floor. I only know a few country dance moves, but that didn’t stop me from dancing the night away. The live band was incredible and they played a great variety of songs. The other regular attenders of Billy Bob’s were so much fun to watch. They know so many dance moves and it is very entertaining to watch them glide around the dance floor.

Our final dance was a line dance and at 12:30, we came back to SMU. Any late night outing would not be complete without stopping at Whataburger, so we stopped for a quick snack and quickly went to bed. I had an awesome time and I cannot wait to go back next Thursday!

-Alex Hibbard

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Moody Magic

SMU storms the court after SMU upset #7 Cincinnati!

SMU storms the court after SMU upset #7 Cincinnati!

Welcome to Moody Coliseum, SMU’s 7,000 seat capacity basketball arena. Moody has become one of the premier places in the nation to watch a college basketball game, as well as one of the most feared places for opposing teams to visit. Moody Coliseum was renovated in 2014 and ever since the Mustangs have returned, they have gone 30-3. This has caused national attention as SMU is consistently ranked as one of the top 25 in national rankings.

In 2014, when I was a senior and high school and deciding where I wanted to go to college, I could not help but watch every SMU basketball game that was on national television. The fans, the energy, and the excitement had me hooked. No other school in the nation has a former President of the United States consistently in attendance along with a raucous fan section called the Mob that was led by a lobster. When I came onto campus later that year, I went to enough games of SMU soccer, football, and volleyball to get guaranteed tickets to every game and be a part of the Mob.

I went to every home basketball game I was in town for, and never had I been to such a loud sports venue. When the Mustangs came from behind to beat Temple, or hosted Connecticut and absolutely crushed them on ESPN College Gameday, there was no better place in the nation to be than Moody Coliseum. The whole school was watching as SMU went onto win the American Conference Championship and go to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. It is an exciting time for sports here at SMU, so come and check us out you will not be disappointed.

-David Shirzad

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Not Such an Anomaly


The above picture describes one of the most significant experiences I have been a part of here at SMU.  It amazes me how these group of students- who sat with me in chamber every Tuesday from 3:30pm-6:00pm- could teach me so much. As a member of the SMU 102nd student senate, I have learned what it means to thoroughly know and defend my positions, build coalitions, create change, and to speak up for others. In the 2015-2016 school year, I have had the pleasure of completing my term as a transfer student senator. Along with my responsibilities as a transfer senator, I was honored to work with seven other diverse student organizations that represent various cultures on campus.

It took me at least a semester to find “my” organization: an organization that put my passion to create change and my desire to connect with others to good use. When I first came to SMU, looking at the 250+ organizations on campus, I thought it would be nearly impossible to find something that would make me feel at home. I thought I was the anomaly transfer student who had to be an outsider. That was not the case! My psychology degree sister has a theory of the feeling of being an anomaly. She calls it the theory of singularity. It is the phenomenon in which people think that they are the only one who feel a certain way, do something a specific way, etc. In reality, that is seldom the case.

In college you find people that are just as geeky about culture as you are, students that care about lighting, parking, dinning, academic issues on campus, and most importantly passionate individuals that are as serious about becoming a world changer as you are. It is with these people that you find your home away from home. It is here that you discover that you are not an anomaly.

-Keya Tollossa

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Courtney DamoreI’m currently sitting in the Innsbruck, Austria airport awaiting my flight back to Copenhagen, Denmark where I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past 4 months studying abroad. To answer the typical question, “Why Copenhagen?” I’ll be honest and say it was the one program that had course options for both my Environmental Studies and Marketing majors. It was also the city I knew the least about and that excited me!

Through my three months and counting abroad I can easily say “Cope,” as we like to call it, is one of my favorite European cities. The city is modern yet charming, exciting but safe, and most importantly filled with AMAZING restaurants! As a self-proclaimed foodie, I have made Copenhagen my palette’s playground.

My personal favorite? Paper Island. What is it? An upgraded food truck paradise. Located inside a refurbished warehouse along the harbor, Paper Island is filled with only the trendiest and tastiest eateries. From pulled pork sandwiches that melt in your mouth to double fried, duck fat French fries, this place has everything you need to satisfy your taste buds. As for my friends and I, you can find us there almost every Thursday evening trying new dishes and probably playing with a deck of cards. The atmosphere of Paper Island is warm and inviting, making it a great place to hang out and enjoy a tasty treat!

Another personal favorite of mine is Kalaset’s brunch. Situated just off the main train station, Kalaset is a quaint, little restaurant that is known for their amazing pancakes and deluxe hot chocolate. When the fall gloom gets to my head and I need a pick me up, Kalaset is the first place I go. Their fluffy blueberry pancakes have never let me down. They even home-make their own Nutella and jam!

Although Copenhagen food is top-notch, I would have to say my favorite thing about Denmark is the vibe of the city and it’s people. For the Danes, atmosphere is everything. They even came up with a special word for it, “Hygge”! Although there is no direct translation for it in English, hygge represents the feeling of coziness. Whether it means inside enjoying coffee with friends or bundled in blankets on the porch watching the rain, you find traces of hygge all throughout Denmark. As temperatures drop and winter settles in, candles and wool blankets are seen in every shop and eatery around the city. Though the weather may be cold and rainy some days, Copenhagen remains warm and inviting.

I try not to think about the fact that I leave for home in exactly one month, but I’m lucky in that my departure from Copenhagen will be bittersweet. The friendships and experiences I’ve had abroad are going to be hard to say goodbye to, but at the same time SMU spring semester is right around the corner!

-Courteney Damore


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Dancing the Days Away

madison mckay

The SMU Dance majors immediately hit the ground running this semester. On the evening following the first day of classes, we jumped into rehearsals for the Fall Hope Show, which we recently performed. The show was comprised of three pieces, the first (and the one that I had the opportunity to perform) was a contemporary piece called Wild and Precious. As the name suggests, the contemporary ballet piece was a celebration of youth and exuberance. The music was relentlessly upbeat, and featured twenty-five dancers sprinting and dancing across the stage wearing brightly-colored costumes most likely inspired by the “Jane Fonda 80s Workout Section” that was incorporated into the middle of the piece. I had the chance to work with a choreographer named Robert Dekkers, the Artistic Director of Post: Ballet in San Francisco. He worked with us for two weeks and created an original piece that featured both his choreography and the choreography of his cast! Overall, it was an incredible experience and was so thankful for the chance to work with so many talented artists!

-Madison McKay

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A Unique Experience: A Guest Lecture by President Bush

Meeting President Bush on campus was one of the things I had on my bucket list since my freshman year at SMU. However, I never thought that the way I would meet him was through a surprise guest lecture in one of my business classes.

jun-hoI am currently taking Professor Don Vandewalle’s class on Leadership and Culture in the Cox School of Business. The course is an evidence-based study on the science of leadership, and it utilizes interdisciplinary frameworks to understand what makes leaders successful.

When class started that fateful day, everything seemed normal. Professor Vandewalle began class by outlining the objectives of the day and asking us if we had any questions.

However, about five minutes into the lecture, our class began to realize that this class period would be anything but normal. We were told to put our computers and other electronic devices below our tables. Shortly after, former President George W. Bush walked into our classroom, shook Professor Vanderwalle’s hand and sat down on a chair across from our professor, ready to talk about some of his leadership experiences during his career.

Professor Vanderwalle led the beginning of the session by asking some questions tailored to the topics that our class was currently covering through case studies and in-class discussions. Near the middle of the class period, President Bush opened the floor to questions from the class. He took the time to answer each question asked and even stayed past the allotted class time to make sure that every student who wanted to ask a question had the opportunity to do so.

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that SMU provided to not only meet the former president, but also to hear about his unique experiences and lessons learned as a co-owner of the Rangers, as the governor of Texas, and as the President of the United States of America.

-Jun-Ho Koh


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Looking for a Place to Dine with Parents? : My Favorite Restaurants

Dallas is known for a lot of things, and one of those is its vibrant restaurant scene. With SMU’s location in the heart of the city I have had lots of opportunity over the past few years to indulge my “foodie” side.

To give you an idea of some of the great options available, I have highlighted four of my favorite restaurants in the city to give you some ideas about places you might want to check out on a date, with parents, or to celebrate a special occasion. They aren’t the fanciest in town, but they aren’t the cheapest either. What are they then, you ask? Delicious. So, since picking favorites is far too difficult, here are a few places I would recommend (in no particular order):

HG SPLY Co. – Situated in Lower Greenville, a rather lively part of town with a lot of quality competition, HG SPLY Co. stands out for its great ambiance, friendly service, and emphasis on natural ingredients. If that last point scares you, fret not—it doesn’t come with any flavor compromises. My recommendation would be one of the bowls, particularly one called “The Stack”, but everything I have had there has been great so you can’t go wrong. The bar is a hit as well with a number of creative cocktail options. The only big downside? It’s not a last minute sort of place. High demand is certainly better than the opposite problem though, so if you have time to plan ahead you should put this one on your list.

HG Sply Co

Meso Maya – Tex-Mex is comfort food for me, so there was bound to be something from this genre on the list. That being said, Meso Maya is on here not because it fits the mold, but because it has pulled away from it. There are any number of “cheap Tex-Mex” places I could have mentioned, most of which are fantastic. But this list is about quality, and that brings us to Meso Maya on the edge of uptown near the Perot museum. The restaurant moves a little more upscale from your typical Mexican food place while also pushing towards the more authentic end of the spectrum. I recommend the seafood enchiladas, but if your tastes differ explore the menu for yourself—I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Meso Maya

Sissy’s – Located on Henderson Ave., another popular restaurant zone, Sissy’s will take you home for some good old fashioned fried chicken. Make no mistake though… this is no KFC. The restaurant walks a tightrope between elegance and hominess, pulling it off with style. If fried chicken just isn’t your thing, they specialize in all things southern, so there is sure to be something on the menu for you. It’s not a huge place, so if you can’t find a table just take a seat at the bar—they will make you feel right at home there too. It may be finger-licking good, but be sure to save some room for milk and cookies (there is an adult version for those of age) at the end of the meal.


R+D Kitchen – Tucked away in a back corner of Preston Center, R+D Kitchen isn’t a place you might stumble upon driving around and searching for a restaurant. But believe me, it is well worth an intentional trip. With a dimly lit, intimate atmosphere and a bar running through the middle of the restaurant that almost makes it feel like an elegant diner, the décor won’t disappoint. The menu is primarily American style, but sushi and other more eclectic offerings are also available. The chef and staff clearly take great pride in their work, and it shows in the food. The Carnitas Sandwich and The Newporter salad are two of my favorites. Add in top-notch service and it quickly becomes apparent that they have a recipe for success.

R+D Kitchen


This list is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you some ideas of places to start after arriving in Dallas. If you start exploring I have no doubt you will have your own list in no time!

-Ryan Herrscher

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The Rockwall Experience

Southern Methodist University has always been a place to explore and expand your interests. The Dedman Recreation Center on SMU’s campus is no exception from this pioneering trend. From indoor soccer to sand volleyball, the Rec Center has many different activities and facilities for students to check out. One of these exiting facilities is the climbing center. The climbing center consists of two different climbing walls, the TAOS Tower and HUECO Bouldering Wall. The TAOS tower is the tall climbing wall that uses a belay system of ropes to safely support a climber up and down. The HEUCO Bouldering Wall is used for bouldering, or a form of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses but from a low height. These two walls combine to provide over 2600 square feet of climbing space. So, last week while at the gym, I decided to try my luck at the climbing center.

Ever since freshman year, I have wanted to try the rock wall but just never made the time for it. So this year, I decided it was time to give it a go. As my friend Nick and I approached the front desk, a smiling face was there to greet us. We then signed a couple forms and within minutes had a climbing belt on and were ushered to the wall. From the bottom looking up, the wall looked much bigger than I had previously thought. The lady belaying me helped me to get my initial footing and before I knew it, I was off. I climbed for the next hour or so traversing differed pathways up the wall as well as trying out the bouldering routes. I finally quit when my forearm muscles burned too continue climbing.

Since then, I have gone three more times and am looking to add rock climbing to part of my weekly routine. It’s a great activity to try with friends and has a very large range of difficulties for climbers to try out. I highly recommend checking out the rock wall next time you pass through the Dedman Recreation Center.

-Michael Keay


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Start-Ups Start Here!

Do you have the next Big Idea? Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to be an entrepreneur?

A picture from one of our club meetings.

A picture from one of our club meetings.

During high school, I started my own automotive accessories business and was fortunate enough to make a profit. Naturally, when I came to SMU, my first priority was to find the SMU Entrepreneurship Club. Upon membership, I met many other SMU students who also had entrepreneurial endeavors. I am so passionate about entrepreneurship that I am now, as a sophomore, the Vice President of the club. The SMU Entrepreneurship Club is one of SMU’s 200 student organizations and is one of the best resources available to get real world entrepreneurial experience. Whether you have the next billion-dollar idea, want help with an existing business, or simply want to hang out with cool people, the entrepreneurship club is for you!

The club prepares students for pitch competitions around the country and hosts guest speakers and pitch training events. One of my favorite events we do as a club is Shark Tank analysis. Shark Tank is a popular TV show in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of notable investors, such as Dallas local and billionaire Mark Cuban. In fact, a few SMU students have pitched their businesses on the show. The club plays the recorded pitches and collectively analyzes the pitcher’s strategy and techniques. The event is both educational and a lot of fun.

Entrepreneurial spirit on campus does not stop outside the club. SMU is one of the most entrepreneurial universities in the country. SMU is ranked #14 on Forbes’ list of “Start-up Schools: America’s Most Entrepreneurial Universities 2015.” This can be attributed to our very social, involved, and entrepreneurial student body, and also to the fact that Dallas provides the perfect incubator for starting businesses. Forbes ranked Dallas, TX #7 for the “Best Cities to Start a Business.”

If you answered “No” to all three of my initial questions, congratulations for reading this far. SMU offers 199 other student organizations; at least one will surely make you feel at home. My advice to you: get involved as soon as you step foot on campus.

Pony up!

-David Zimmer


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Research at SMU

Just chilling with some of the research equipment.

Just chilling with some of the research equipment.

Something that’s been a huge part of my year and a half at SMU has been my participation in Faculty led research. It all started the first week of my freshman year. Coming into SMU as a Psychology major, I knew that if I didn’t get some research training under my belt soon, I wouldn’t be as competitive in applying to graduate schools as I wanted to be. So, I met with my Introduction to Psychology Professor during her Office hours and talked to her about research opportunities at SMU. She advised me to go onto the Psychology Department’s website and read up on some of the professors’ research studies in hopes of finding something interesting and to email that professor to see if there was any availability to work in their lab.

Online I found a link to the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at SMU (or ARC), and was immediately interested in the researching going on there. I sent Dr. Alicia Meuret, the head of ARC, an email admitting that the extent of my experience with Psychology was two classes of Intro to Psych, but that I was eager to get involved with research and would be willing to work hard to catch up in my knowledge on the subject. She emailed me back the next day and asked if I wanted credit hours for my work or not.

Since then I’ve been working at ARC, helping on numerous research projects. I’ve interacted with participants in a study on self-harm while acting as a confederate, I’ve been trained to run participants through a rigorous protocol for a study evaluating the physiological mechanisms that might indicate the presence of psychological disorders, and I’ve even finished up my first, first-authorship publication of the Fight-or-Flight response. It’s certainly been difficult along the way, but reaching out at the beginning of my freshman year was one of the best decisions I could have made, and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in any field that does research. As a research university, SMU has countless opportunities for students of all years to get involved. All one has to do is ask!

-Stephen Chamberlain


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