To the incoming Class of 2026,

Welcome! Welcome to the place that will be your home for the next 4 years, but will stay in your heart for a lifetime. Welcome to the place that just might challenge you to your limits, but those challenges will shape you into the world-changer we know you are. Welcome to the place with the family that will champion you in your triumphs, but more importantly, lift you up and walk with you in your struggles.

As a student finishing my 3rd year and getting ready to begin my senior year, I am nostalgic as I write this and think about all the exciting things that you all, the Class of 2026, will get to experience in just a couple months. Here are just a few of the numerous memories I could tell you about from my first couple weeks:

  • A snow cone social with my entire residential commons on the night of move-in; looking back, a couple of those people I met and talked to that night are now some of my closest friends
  • The first Boulevard! Of course, you’ve heard so much about this, but what really stood out to me was, for the first time, feeling like I was truly a part of the SMU community instead of just a freshman because we were joining such a time-honored tradition with the entire student body and all the alumni.
  • A dinner picnic in one of the prettiest parts of campus, Dallas Hall lawn, with my new friends
  • A long-weekend trip to the SMU-in-Taos campus where we hiked and stargazed

Those are only a few of the things I remember most vividly from my first month or two of freshman year but don’t take my word for it. This is YOUR experience! First and foremost, remember you are at a top school to get a great education, so make your academics a priority. But then… this is your opportunity to forge your own path and take advantage of all those once-in-a-lifetime events that come your way. It’s your time to try new foods in Dallas, or go to a concert of an unknown band, or join your commons on an intramural team for a sport you’ve never played. In addition to all the fun you’ll have around campus and in Dallas, take some introspective time to get to know yourself. These 4 years of college are such a special time to discover who you are, what you believe, and what you value.

As I conclude this letter, I want you to know how excited we are to meet you next year. This campus community will be a brighter place with you in it, and you will surely leave your unique mark on it.

Pony Up,

Sophie Fernando

Class of 2023