Campus Life Meadows School of the Arts Student Organizations

Culture on Campus

SMU has some of the most entertaining cultural and artistic experiences on a college campus through our Meadows School of the Arts. Over the course of the semester, you could easily catch performances in dance, vocal performance, studio art and orchestra. A while ago, I had the opportunity to see the Cézanne String Quartet’s final recital as SMU’s Peak Fellowship Ensemble in Residence. The fellowship is Meadow’s way of bringing extraordinary artists, some from around the world, to campus. The group consists of two violins, one viola and one cello. They are currently working on recording their first album. The fall recital will be on the first album and focuses on tragedy in the human experience.

Overall, it was an incredible experience. Many people will never get the chance to see the caliber of performers that are in the Cézanne Quartet, much less for free, but at SMU, experiences like this are the norm. One of my favorite things about our University being located in Dallas is that these artistic and cultural opportunities are not limited to campus. Almost any day of the year, it’s simple to find an event in fine arts. Whether you are interested in venturing into the city or filling a few hours between classes, Dallas and Meadows ensure that there are no shortages of opportunities to learn and grow in areas that may be culturally different. As a student studying accounting and biology, two subjects that do not make much room for creative leaning, I find myself being refreshed and inspired by programs and performances that break up the monotony of my own academic agenda. Make sure to check out Meadows’ performance schedule if you are visiting us on the Hilltop – you won’t regret it!

Holt Garner

Life Around Dallas Texas Travel

Weekend Trip to Austin

For a little weekend getaway, my friends and I drove down to Austin, Texas for Austin City Limits last weekend. That’s one of the great things about Dallas, its proximity to other really cool cities. Austin is just a quick 3-hour drive and can be fun for a change of scenery.

We drove down on Friday after class just in time to see Jay-Z, Martin Garrix and Foster the People. On Saturday morning, we went to brunch at Jo’s Coffee and then went in to ACL early to explore Zilker Park. They have the most amazing ACL Eats Food Court- with everything from Shake Shack to local Austin pizza places (eating pizza in Austin is a must!). There are 8 different stages, and the Austin skyline is visible from everywhere in the park. On Saturday, we saw Ice Cube, Red Hot Chili Peppers and then went to a Silent Disco.

There is so much to do in Dallas on the weekends that you would never have to leave, but I recommend exploring other cities in Texas if you get the opportunity. Over the past four years, I have fallen in love with not only Dallas and SMU but more broadly, Texas. Everything truly is bigger and better in Texas!

Taylor Walden

Academics SMU Abroad

My Semester Abroad in Copenhagen

One of the factors that drew me to SMU was the vast amount of opportunities to study abroad. I’ve always known that I wanted to study abroad at some point, but I was never sure where I wanted to go or for how long. After my freshman year, I had met friends who had studied all over the globe for as short as three-week programs all the way to programs that lasted a whole year! The program that continuously stood out to me was DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad), in Copenhagen, Denmark. The program drew a mixture of students from universities across America, offering classes that transferred for credit in nearly every major.

The spring semester of my junior year, I flew across the world to Copenhagen, my home for the next four months. I lived in an apartment with eight other students from all different universities whom I became friends with instantly! I also become friends with several other students from SMU that I didn’t know prior to going abroad. Immersing myself in Danish culture was the best part of living abroad, I experienced so much more than I could have possibly imagined in just four short months.

Every morning I rode my bike to class, which is by far the most common way to commute in Denmark. At school, I was able to complete my European Studies minor; some of the classes I took were Terrorism & Counterterrorism From a European Perspective, Danish Politics & Society, and The Holocaust & Genocide. My counterterrorism class traveled to London for a week where we met with a counterterrorism think-tank, a renown BBC reporter and other influential people within the political sphere. The classes I took abroad were the most interesting courses I have ever taken, largely in part because DIS enables students to use Europe as their classroom.

Between classes I studied in the coziest coffee shops known to man, browsed the cobblestone streets of the inner city and people watched with friends. On the weekends I managed to check a couple cities off my bucket list… London, Hamburg, Geneva, Brussels, Amsterdam, Budapest, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Dublin, Rome, Florence, Venice, Stockholm, Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona and Munich to name a few.

While studying abroad I learned more about myself in four months, than I have my entire life. SMU is my home, but if I can give one piece of advice to a student, no matter where they go to school, it would be to abroad. Rachel Wolchin said,  “If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.” If not now, when? Just go.

Julia Traylor

General Life Around Dallas

Texas State Fair

SMU’s location in Dallas, Texas has many perks.  There is always new food, music and entertainment to enjoy in the big city.  One of the most famous events is the world-famous Texas State Fair.  At the end of September each year, the fairgrounds come alive as vendors flock towards Dallas to show and sell everything from fried Oreos to fried jello. One of my favorite parts about going to the Texas State Fair each year is listening to the live music.  Surprisingly, there’s more than just country music to enjoy! I’ve seen everything from pop singers to Irish rock bands perform.  There are endless rides, games and performances to enjoy. One of the busiest days at the fairgrounds is when more than 100,000 people travel to the State Fair for the AT&T Red River Showdown game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners.  These rivals have met at the fairgrounds each year since 1929!  

As an SMU student, it’s impossible to miss the Texas State Fair.  Some classes will have projects that involve the fair and many student groups attend together throughout the season.  One of the easiest ways to get to the Texas State Fair is through the Dallas Area Rapid Transit transportation network.  As a benefit of enrollment at SMU, students may obtain an Annual DART Local Pass for a one-time fee of $5.00.  This is one of my favorite perks as an SMU student.  The DART goes to areas downtown, the American Airlines Center, the DFW airport and many more places.  Most importantly, it goes directly to the Texas State Fair!

Caroline Gurley

Athletics Campus Life Student Organizations

Rising in Ranks from Varsity to Club Sports

Four year varsity football. Four year varsity track and field. First Team All-State athlete. And after all that in high school, NOT a collegiate varsity athlete. Why?

Near the end of high school, I was seriously considering the possibility of playing varsity football at my future college. Every time I weighed the pros and cons, no matter how I spun it, I realized that there were not enough benefits to outweigh the drawbacks. As a mechanical engineering and mathematics double major, I am very studious and prioritize my academics above all else. Coming from an intensive and structured high school experience in my hometown of Las Vegas, NV, I saw college as the time for me to experience freedom in a variety of aspects. The time commitment of varsity sport practices every day, multiple times a day, was something that I couldn’t justify to myself since it would dictate my entire schedule. While I arrived at SMU with no intentions of joining varsity sports there was still a missing piece. Health and fitness are integral to my identity so I always knew that I wanted to continue that in one way, shape or form. However, simply going to the gym did not fill the void of being a part of a team.

Each year, SMU holds a club fair the Saturday before classes start where new students can learn about the various organizations on campus. My freshman year at the club fair, a few guys yanked me aside and asked, “Did you play football in high school? Because you’re playing Rugby now.” Unsure of whether to commit or not, I signed up for the first practice. By the end of the first week of practice, I was hooked to this novel sport. On and off the field, I have made some of my best friends through Rugby.

As a Club Sport that only practices 3 times a week, Rugby allows me the flexibility to attend practices at my own decision while still being able to compete against other schools and represent SMU like a varsity sport does. This is something true about all club sports here at SMU!

If you’re someone who was a student athlete in high school, can’t see yourself doing the same in college, but want to continue with your athletic endeavors, I highly suggest club sports as an alternative. They strike a perfect balance between a hard-working team that competes for SMU and a relaxed club that fosters lifelong friendships.

Nathan DeVera

Campus Life General Residence Life and Student Housing

My Favorite Dining Hall Hacks

I have been on an SMU meal plan for the past three years and I can genuinely say there are some undeniable perks involved with eating on campus. First and foremost, there is absolutely no required cooking. SMU offers all the home cooked meals a student could want in both dining hall locations, Umphrey Lee and Arnold. Their convenient locations allow students to easily walk in and grab food to go or sit down and enjoy a meal with friends. The best part of eating in the dining halls is that you will never have to wash a single dish.

I love to eat, and over the years I have spent countless hours in the dining halls, picking up some skills and tricks that help me to make the most of SMU’s dining hall offerings, so here’s a list of my top three favorite Umph/Arnold hacks.

VEGGIE WRAP I love a good veggie wrap, and with a little initiative, you upgrade the typical sandwich station offerings to make your perfect veggie combo. Just take a bowl and grab whatever vegetables you enjoy from the salad bar. If you make your way over to the sandwich station and ask very nicely, SMU Dining staff will take the bowl of vegetables and wrap them up for you, adding whatever sandwich condiments you’d like. Bonus tip: add hummus.

SWEET POTATO BOWL Sweet potatoes are my favorite food and you can find them in the grill section at any time of the day. Grab a sweet potato and cut it open then head over to the salad and fruit stations. I like to put a little Greek yogurt and peanut butter into my sweet potatoes. Bonus tip: add granola, bananas, and cinnamon for a sweet and savory combo.

BROWNIE SUNDAE Take a brownie from the dessert section (stressed spelled backward is dessert) and pop it in the microwave. Heat it up for 45 secs. then take it straight to the frozen yogurt machine. Take as much frozen yogurt as you please and then enjoy! Bonus tip: sprinkles.

Susie Kim

Life Around Dallas

Benefits of the Dallas Arts District

Just a ten-minute drive from SMU’s campus is a hub for visual and performing arts known as the Dallas Arts District. As a lover of all things performance, this is my favorite part of downtown—whether it be theater, opera, concerts, musical theater, dance or classical music—there are so many performance experiences to take advantage of.

In May 2016, I decided to combine my love of performing arts with service and completed training as a volunteer usher for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which encompasses the Winspear Opera House, Wyly Theatre, Strauss Square, and Sammons Park. As a volunteer, I scan tickets, assisting patrons to their seat, direct people to the bathroom and concessions during intermission, and help exit traffic after the show. In between all of that, I get to watch the performances for free! In my time volunteering, I’ve gotten to see wonderful performances through Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Opera and national tours featured as part of the Broadway Series. For a college student on a budget, it’s been a great way to see some of the highest quality entertainment in town for free and also feel good by getting in volunteer hours. I love working with AT&T Performing Arts Center because I get to mesh my passions with service.

As a double major in music and biology with a minor in musical theatre, having the Arts District so close has really enhanced my learning in the classroom at SMU. For my Evolution of American Musical Theatre class sophomore year, we did an in-depth research paper on Bob Fosse and the previous summer I got to usher for Cabaret at the Center. As a result, I came in with background knowledge of his choreography style, which was incredibly helpful for the initial class discussions on the topic. This semester, I am in Seminar of Opera History, and not only will we study the score as a class, but we also get to experience a live production of Samson et Dalila at the Dallas Opera this October. Even better, SMU Chair of Voice, Clifton Forbis, is starring as Samson (more SMU connections)!

Even if you can’t volunteer like I do, most productions have discounted “student rush” tickets available with a valid student ID if you show up an hour before show time. I encourage you to check out a performance and explore my favorite part of the city—there’s always something happening in the Arts District!

Jackie Malish

Academics Campus Life Lyle School of Engineering

An English Major among Engineers

I can remember the first time I heard the job title “Maker.” It was from a friend who referenced a man he knew who would make custom objects for a living.

“What!?” I asked, “you can make a living off of just making random things for people?”

To say I’m a handy person is an exaggeration of my actual skill, but most of my childhood was spent playing with Legos and building popsicle stick castles with hot glue cobwebs. My inner child squirmed at the idea of taking these little projects to the next level, so I bought a sketchbook and began to doodle every idea that popped into my head. Fueled by a Pinterest inspired mania of design ideas – I know, I’m shaking my head, too – the pages quickly filled up. With more than a little disappointment, I began to realize the limitations of my ability to create; equipment and materials aren’t cheap, especially for a college student.

Fortunately, I had the Deason Innovation Gym, SMU’s proud maker space. Located in the Caruth building of the Lyle School of Engineering, the innovation gym is a place for ALL students at SMU to design and create, regardless of major. The only thing between me and a wood shop, laser cutter, multiple 3D printers, a vinyl cutter and a Carvey – Google it if you don’t know what it is; it’s really cool – was a 45-minute safety course supplemented by orientations for each piece of equipment.

My first project was for a friend who found that the peephole in his apartment was a bit too high for him to reasonably reach.

“One of my friend’s joked that he could build me a periscope,” He laughed.

“I can build you a periscope!”

It wasn’t a simple project by any means, but the trained staff at the Deason Innovation Gym was there to help. After sketching my plans on paper, I was able to use Adobe Illustrator – conveniently available to me through Fondren Library computers – to create the design for the Innovation Gym’s laser cutter. After that, a little paint, wood glue and a few mirrors were all that it took to make my design a reality, all thanks to the materials and equipment provided to my by SMU.

With such a repertoire of tools and materials at my disposal, my only problem is finding the time to bring my designs into three dimensions. Good thing the Innovation Gym is open 24/7!

Stephen Chamberlain