Academics Ambassadors Campus Life General Spirit and Traditions

A Letter to the Class of 2026

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

Academics Ambassadors Careers

Why I Decided to Study Management Science

When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to study engineering in college, and after some basic research, I decided on civil engineering. As I visited colleges, I was sure to ask lots of questions about the engineering school and more specifically, civil engineering. Because of this, I didn’t actively seek out other major options that I hadn’t considered.

Flash forward to the beginning of freshman year: I was bright-eyed and excited to dive into what I thought to be civil engineering. I wanted to be sure I knew about the other types of engineering, though, so I enrolled in ENGR 1101: Engineering and Beyond to learn more about all the engineering disciplines offered by SMU. After several weeks of classes, hearing stories from people who had jobs in different fields, and learning from professors in each engineering field, I had the realization that what I had previously been set on studying was probably not actually the best fit for me.

Now enter management science. When I tell people I’m a management science major, most people either immediately ask me what it is, or assume it is the same as management, both of which are fair responses. In fact, when I first heard about it, I didn’t know what it was either! I first learned what it was in the very same class where I discovered why civil engineering wasn’t for me. Management science is in the engineering school, and it has a lot of similarities to industrial engineering, operations research, or other related fields. The management science curriculum combines many different types of classes. In my two and a half years as a management science major, I’ve taken a couple computer science classes, business classes such as accounting and marketing, and traditional engineering classes. The goal of a management science major is to make things more efficient, whether it be processes, networks, or teams of people. Essentially, we make things better, cheaper, and faster. In one of my classes, we looked at a problem related to a supply chain network of monitor manufacturing. This network consisted of multiple parts coming from multiple sources traveling to 2 different factories where the parts were used to make the monitors. The goal of the problem was to identify how many parts should go to each of the factories to minimize the cost or maximize output. This is just one example of something you could be finding solutions for!

One big perk of majoring in management science is that there is a broad assortment of job types or industries you could go into. Last summer, I interned in the engineering department of one of the top transportation companies. The engineers on my team worked with some of the company’s largest clients to see how their trucking network could be made more efficient. Sometimes this was solved by adjusting the drivers’ weekly schedules or rerouting trucks to other distribution centers, among various other creative solutions. One of the projects I worked on was aimed at saving engineers’ work time by automating a process that previously took a few hours of manual work.

After several semesters in management science and a related internship, I’m so glad I found the major that is right for me. There will always be something new to work on, learn about, and optimize, and I think that’s part of what makes this field so exciting. Remember that it is okay to change your major, or to come to college not knowing exactly what you want your career path to be. Just like me, though, I hope you find your perfect fit.

Academics Ambassadors Campus Life General Residence Life and Student Housing Spirit and Traditions Student Organizations

Finding Community in Your Commons

Move-in day can be scary. While the air is filled with the excitement of new opportunities and experiences, moving to a new location at such a pivotal point in our lives can feel like walking on a high-beam without a safety net below. On move-in day, most college students are moving away from their friends, their family, and their home. But here at SMU, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

A “dorm” is a place where students live away from home. At SMU, we don’t have dorms. Instead, we have Residential Commons Communities (each called a “Commons”), which are designed to become your new home.

In my experience, this works like magic. With one faculty member living with their family in a built-in apartment on the ground floor of each Commons, every student has access to a set of incredibly supportive parents-away-from-home. When I walked into my Commons for the first time, my Faculty in Residence (FiR) immediately knew my name and invited me to a home-cooked dinner. Through successes, failures, breakups, and job offers, I never stopped leaning on my FiR family for support and encouragement.

But even with a built-in family, making friends represents so much of what the college experience is about. Luckily, the Commons system has some fantastic ways to build lifelong friendships with your neighbors. I found community through Commons intramural sports teams, Commons Council, and even just hanging out in the building’s lounge spaces. Every Commons puts on dozens of fun events each semester to encourage their residents to spend time with one another. With so many opportunities to meet new people, the commons experience basically comes with automatic friendships.

Throughout my time as a first-year, orientation leader, stampede guide, and RA, I have seen hundreds of students enter this university and find their home. The commons system provides us students with community in an ingenious way: by recognizing that home is never a place, but instead a person.


I found my home on the Hilltop, and I hope you will too.

Jack Lucas

Academics Ambassadors General

Advice for High School Seniors from an Student Ambassador

My name is Austin Foster, and I am a sophomore majoring in Finance with a concentration in Alternative Asset Management, Political Science, and Public Policy. I am originally from Arlington, Texas—about a 30-minute drive from campus. I am writing today to share two pieces of advice as you work on deciding what the next four years of your life will look like and where those years will transpire.

Going through the college search process can be very stressful. Not only are you choosing what you believe to be your future career path (don’t worry—you’ll change your mind at least two or three times before making a final decision), but you’re also choosing where you will live for the next four years. While the former is certainly important in the decision-making process, the latter is, in my opinion, a much bigger deal.

Personally, I entered the college search process knowing two things—That I wanted to study business and that I wanted to go to school outside of Texas. As such, I applied to school all across the United States—East Coast, West Coast, and everything in between. At SMU, I got one of these two things, but wouldn’t trade the other for the world. While academics are important to consider when selecting a university, choosing the place that feels like home is far more important than any ranking, program, or course offering.

For me, SMU was the perfect choice because it hit so many of my wishes and needs as a student. We have small classes (An average of 22 students), which makes me a name rather than a number for my professors. We have a student body that is just the right size—enough students that there is always someone new to meet, but you’ll also always see a friend whether you’re walking down the boulevard, studying in Fondren library, or headed into Dedman Rec.

My second piece of advice is very simple. Nobody Cares.

This is something that I was told before I came to SMU and I wish it was something I had truly taken to heart at the time. Looking back, I realize how true it is. The beautiful thing about college is that nobody cares where you grew up, who your parents are, what you’re wearing, or what classes you decide to take. All that truly matters is that you are HERE and that you do the things that make you, YOU. By being brave enough to be yourself rather than trying to fit a mold of what you think everyone else wants to see, you will find your lifelong friends and enjoy your college experience.


Pony Up!


Austin Foster, SMU ‘23

Academics Ambassadors

Internships at SMU

Internships. The word itself sounds daunting and scary, but don’t worry SMU has your back! Even given the unprecedented times of living in a pandemic, SMU has everything to prepare you for success: the Hegi Career Center, easy-to-access resources like free Linkedin Learning courses, amazing professors, Peer Academic Leaders in each commons, Hegi Career Leaders Program, SMU Board Fellows Program, and more. This might sound overwhelming; how could you know what you want to do? Don’t panic! The Hegi Career center also has an in-depth assessment to understand your behavioral and analytical skills to advise what you are best suited for. Additionally, you can consult with mentors (i.e. professors, counselors, other friends) to understand what exactly you’re looking for. But what does the actual recruitment process look like? Let’s break it down bit by bit:

The First Step: Networking and Getting your Foot in the Door!

SMU recognizes that the hardest part of getting an internship – and a full-time job – is getting noticed! In order to combat this, the SMU Hegi Career Centers facilitates a career fair once per each semester. During this career fairs, dozens of companies from all over the Dallas, Fort Worth Metroplex will come to SMU to want to meet YOU. Before Covid-19 times, each company will have their own stall (think food market style!), and students were able to freely walk up to whichever company to learn more information from each. Additionally, certain schools like Lyle School of Engineering and Cox School of Business will have their very own tailored career fairs. However, during the pandemic, you might think that career fairs are dead. But it’s exactly the opposite! At SMU, career fairs are still thriving, and companies are always looking for SMU talent. Instead of in-person stalls for each company, all events are catered online. Students are allowed to express interest to each company ahead of time and register for a time slot (of many) during the career fair days – this allows for efficiency and easiness for both you and the company. Additionally, a great way to stand out is to have a strong resume. Lucky for you, the Hegi Career Center hosts a semesterly event called “Resumania.” In this event, the career counselors at the Hegi Center will invite executives from companies throughout Dallas to edit and look over student’s resumes in a nonjudgmental, constructive environment; this is so students will know that their resume is amazing because a real company executive will have approved and looked at it. Keep in mind, although it might seem scary to talk to recruiters from companies, all the SMU resources listed above are here for you and ready to help you along the way!

The Second Step: The Interview

The key to a successful interview is to be confident and be curious. Oftentimes we get caught up in the idea of students being the one that’s interviewed, but you have to remember, you are also interviewing the company! Remember to ask intentional and thoughtful questions to ensure that you can thoroughly visualize yourself as a happy and healthy employee at the company you are interviewing for. To prepare for the interview process, we have so many resources on campus to help you practice. The Hegi Career center has set up online appointments with career counselors to practice any type of interviews ranging from behavioral to technical; all you have to do is register and book your appointment online! Additionally, in each residential commons, there are Peer Academic Leaders, Honors Mentors, Residential Community Directors to help you with those areas of professional development – so many resources at your fingertips! Remember, practice makes perfect and that includes interviewing. Don’t be afraid to ask multiple different people of varying personalities to sit down and practice! From my experience, the more I practiced my interviewing skills, the less nervous I was for the real deal; I knew that I could ace the interview because of the encouragement from previous practices and people.

The Final Step: What happens after the Interview

So, you’ve applied, you’ve interviewed, what’s next? After your interviews, always remember to send a follow-up thank you email; you won’t believe how impactful this can be! This allows for the recruiters and interviewers to continue to have you in mind, even after the interview. Additionally, don’t be afraid to reach out to the recruiters and ask follow-up questions – everyone loves an eager and diligent learner. This is also the point where you finally get to relax. You’ve worked hard during the process and you deserve a break. Wind down, send those emails, and wait for the acceptance letter that I know is coming your way!

Thus, at SMU, we have a million and one resources for you to be successful and find the career that genuinely puts a smile on your face. Even during Covid-19 times, SMU has adapted seamlessly. So, when we see you on the Hilltop, Our Focus: Your Success.

Best Wishes and Pony Up!

Jessica Wang

Class of 2021

Management Science B.S. | Lyle School of Engineering

Academics Ambassadors Campus Life

To my Freshman Self…

This one is for the students out there who believe they have it all figured out. This one is also for the students out there who don’t believe they have it all figured out. I know how it feels to be in both of these positions. As a graduating senior *wipes tears,* I have experienced so much that has shaped me into the person I am today. My little freshman self had her life planned out. She knew the classes she was going to pursue, the clubs she was going to join, and the friends she was going to have before making it to campus. Spoiler alert: I pursued different classes, joined an array of organizations, befriended so many extraordinary people, and did so much more. It took some time to realize, but college taught me that some of the best things grow outside of comfort zones. By stepping out of mine, I learned more about myself and enjoyed my college experience more than I could have imagined. Of course, it was a learning process, so if could go back in time and advise myself as a freshman, I would say this:

  1. Introduce yourself to your professor. Class sizes are so small at SMU, so your professor will likely know who you are before the end of the first week. Make yourself stand out by actually telling your professor who you are, why you are taking their class, and what you hope to gain out of taking it. Professors are more inclined to help students they actually know.
  2. Do not be afraid of challenging courses and professors. This does not mean you should not be prepared for them, it just means you should not be afraid to pursue them! For me, they often served as the greatest learning experience. Rigorous coursework improved my study habits, challenged my way of thinking, and sometimes introduced me to areas of study I never knew I was interested in.
  3. If you are confused about something, it’s likely that another person in your class is too. Two minds work better than one, so get to know a few people in each of your classes and exchange numbers with them. Also, utilize SMU resources to improve your performance in class. Familiarize yourself with the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center. Their tutoring services and academic success programs saved my life at one point.
  4. If there is an on-campus event occurring and you are free, attend it! If it means you have to go alone, that’s okay too. You will meet new people, familiarize yourself with an organization you may want to join, and have a good time.
  5. SMU has over 200 student organizations. It is so important to find the ones you are drawn to, join them, and acquire leadership positions within them. At the top of every semester, SMU hosts an event where students can learn more about all of the student organizations on campus. Attend this event. Student organizations enhance the student experience and give you lifelong friends along the way.
  6. Lastly, sunshine all the time makes a desert. Take it easy and let go of perfectionism. Set aside some time for yourself every day to decompress. Treat this time like it is your homework, and don’t end the day without completing it.

I overcame a lot in the last four years, so I hope this survival guide prepares you to better embrace your college experience. There is so much in store for you!

Best of luck, and Pony Up!
Leena Kamal
SMU Class of 2021

Academics Ambassadors Cox Business School

My Favorite Class at SMU

My name is Austin Foster, and I am a Sophomore Majoring in Finance and Political Science here at Southern Methodist University. One of the things I really love about the SMU campus is our small class sizes (average of 22 Students) and the unique personalities of each of our professors. The combination of these two truly sets apart SMU from other universities. Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about my favorite class I’ve taken on campus—ACCT 2301: Intro to Financial Accounting.

For starters, this class was great because of the amazing professor that teaches it: Liliana Hickman-Riggs. Professor Hickman-Riggs, or “LHR” as she is affectionately referred to on campus, is an eclectic woman known for her high-top sneakers, designer handbags, and chihuahuas! SMU is known for having professors who are extremely dedicated to their students and LHR is certainly no exception to this rule.

Specifically, the course has taught me to think in a new form and how to communicate using the “Language of business.” Rather than adding and subtracting, Accounting is a language of Debits and Credits. As the course progressed, we continued to build on these skills and were given the opportunity to apply them to real-world scenarios through case studies and innovative homework problems.

One of the most beneficial parts of the class for me was the asynchronous videos that the professor incorporates. These. Videos served as “guided readings” that walked us through the chapter reading, highlighting key terms and examples before we begin the lecture for the week. I found this to be extremely beneficial for me as it allowed me to master the material much easier and alleviated stress before exams.

One week of the course gave us the opportunity to meet with a partner from Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, which is one of the “Big Four” Accounting Firms. This experience was very intriguing to me as it opened my eyes to the world of accounting careers during my first accounting course. After meeting with the partner, we were divided into groups and asked to complete an analysis of Apple Inc.’s three financial statements, The Balance Sheet, The Income Statement, and The Statement of Cash Flows for “Jill,” who was considering an investment in the corporation.  This application of the skills learned in the class was extremely beneficial as it showcased the practical uses of the skills we had just learned in Financial Accounting.

Academics Ambassadors Campus Life

Back to Campus…During a Pandemic!

My first day of the Spring Semester!

As the first week of school is upon us, I was asked (ok I volunteered) to share my back to school tips that I have learned in my last 3 and a half years at SMU. The most important thing you can do is to get organized, in all areas of your world. Organize your academic space, your digital space, and your physical space.


Academic Organization

Even if I don’t have all my syllabi and classes on canvas yet, there are several ways that I prep my academic space for the start of school. The first thing that I will do is set up my calendar for the semester. I prefer to use Apple Calendar because I can color code my different activities and have the same information between my phone and laptop. I make sure to add the location of the class so when the first day of class rolls around I don’t have to pull up my.smu on my phone. I also add the professor’s name and the course number so I can use my calendar as a quick reference in case I forget. This is when I’ll also add my work schedule and any other recurring events I know I’ll have during the semester. I also use a physical planner throughout the semester to keep track of assignments. In the time before I have all my syllabi I will color code each class and write in major dates that I do know.


Digital Organization

The next thing I do is get digitally organized. That’s right, clean up your computer files and desktop. First I will delete all the junk and random files off of my desktop, making sure to empty my trash after. Next I’ll create new folders for each of my classes, and move the old classes into a Fall 2020 folder. You may find this task very intimidating, especially if your desktop looks anything like mine. But having a clean computer and even a super basic file organization system will make it so much easier for you to find important documents throughout the semester.


Physical Organization


The last piece of advice I have for you is an oldie but a goodie. Clean up your room. After living in a space for at least a semester, it can be super helpful to rethink how you organize your room. Did you actually use your storage, desk, and sitting areas as you intended? How may you better adapt the space to how you actually use it? For example I personally struggle to use my desk as a workspace. I think through why I don’t use it and come up with some possible solutions.. If my desk chair is uncomfortable, then maybeI should find a cushion or pillow for it. If I clutter my desk with junk, then I should find a different area I can use for just junk. This is a time to be realistic not idealistic. I can tell myself that I will not clutter up my desk anymore, but I know that won’t happen. It’s going to be much more productive to adapt your space to your behavior than to hope the behavior you’ve learned over the past 6 months will magically change.


The beginning of the semester can be stressful and confusing. I hope some of these tips can help you adjust to a new schedule as easily as possible!


Daniel Heard

Class of 2021

Academics Ambassadors

Isolated but not Alone

Hello everyone! My name is Anna Musich, and I am a rising sophomore at SMU. Currently, I am pursuing a marketing and Spanish major with minors in music, advertising and economics. With the end of the year cut short, keeping in touch with friends has been at the top of my priority list. Many events and plans were cancelled for the end of the year, but thankfully with the help of technology, not all was lost. Here are some of the things my friends and I do to stay in touch!

CHAS, or College Hispanic American Students, had a movie night over zoom where we watched the comedy “How to be a Latin Lover”. I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard during a movie, plus the additional commentaries in our group chat had all of us cracking up. We were able to say goodbye to our seniors and catch up with member who we hadn’t seen in a while. Knowing our community is still there for us, was reassuring and definitely was one of the highlights of quarantine.

The game “Skribbl” has quickly become a staple of my friend group.

Our Ultimate Frisbee team was supposed to have sectionals, regionals and nationals, in April and May. All three tournaments, which we have been building up to this whole year, were cancelled. Quarantine has eliminated the ability to meet as a team, but online we still root each other on and keep the idea of team alive. We share playlists to dance to, memes, and even congratulated our seniors on their graduation within our group chat. The executive team has been planning out our next season, and we are currently working on a quarantined frisbee video, so we can “play” together without being together. By next season, we hope to maintain our existing team bonds and grow our frisbee family!

Lastly, outside student organizations, my friends and I have been meeting over zoom to play games, chat, and grab lunch together. Those conversations are always delightful whether it be about painting, baking or hula hooping. A couple of us are fans of the K POP band BTS, and while we were disappointed we could no longer attend their concert, so we decided to have a small dance party over zoom while listening to their music. It was nothing elaborate and it even though it was very out of sync, dancing with other people was super entertaining and made the day just a little better. Spending time with friends virtually has made all the difference in the world during the quarantine. Hopefully this article inspires you to reach out and plan a little get together online!

Remember to stay happy and healthy, and Pony up!

Anna Musich

Class of 2023

Academics Ambassadors Campus Life

Zoom University

Hey everyone! My name is Samantha Pozo, and I am a rising junior studying Biology on the pre-health track with minors in Neuroscience and Psychology. I was born and raised in Dallas, and although I only live fifteen minutes away from SMU, I do live on campus.

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, everything in our lives has seemingly changed. I have returned home, and my new morning routine consists of waking up, making my bed, changing out of my pajamas (occasionally keeping them on all day) and hopping online to join my class zoom calls. The way we go grocery shopping, the way we interact with others, and even the way we go to school have all changed; however, one thing has remained constant through this difficult and uncertain time and that is the continuous dedication and support of SMU professors. COVID-19 has affected many people in different ways, and the switch to online classes was challenging for many, including myself.

In all of my classes, my professors never failed to take the first ten minutes of class to check in with us and personally ask us how we were feeling, what we were up to, and if there was anything they could do to help us. Some professors even started the class by sharing funny memes to lighten the spirit. Both teachers and students have had to get creative in order to adapt to a new teaching and learning environment. Instead of a final exam, my Organic Chemistry class had a truly interesting project in which we applied the mechanisms and reactions that we had learned all year long to synthesizing a small molecule drug that could potentially be used to treat COVID-19. This was an amazing opportunity to research more about the pandemic and to see our knowledge come to life in a real-world application –SMU does indeed shape world changers!

Throughout this entire shift to online learning, all of the professors were very understanding and were willing to work with each student based on individual circumstances. All of their hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed. Whether it is in the classroom or on a zoom call, SMU professors are always there to help their students succeed despite all obstacles, including COVID-19.

I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. I cannot wait to see you all on the Hilltop soon.

Pony Up!

Samantha Pozo

SMU Class of 2022

Academics SMU Abroad Travel

Studying Abroad at SMU

Hey, y’all! My name is Jake Greene and I am a sophomore studying Finance and Markets & Culture. I am originally from Austin, Texas, but I am currently living in Richmond, Virginia with my family.

SMU is lucky to have a great Study Abroad office that encourages students to expand their horizons and take classes outside of Dallas. Students can pick from summer or semester-long programs to take classes for their majors/minors or fulfill UC requirements. There are programs across the world – from yoga courses in Bali to language immersion programs in Spain. Pick a place, and SMU can help you make it reality.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to study at University College (the oldest of the 39 colleges in the University of Oxford) for five weeks through the SMU-in-Oxford program. It was one of the highlights of my SMU experience, and I can’t help but think about a few things that I miss about England and the program.

The Classes

I took two classes on the University College campus – one class about European Diplomacy, and another about 18th Century England that was taught by a real Oxford professor. The classes were always interesting, as we took day trips to learn about history in the places where it actually happened (English landmarks like Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Westminster Abbey). Because of this unique class structure, I was able to develop closer bonds with my professors and better understand the material.

The Culture

Whether it be for a few weeks or a full semester, studying abroad allows you to become immersed in a new culture. By the end of the five weeks, I realized that I wasn’t just an American tourist in Europe – I was a real Oxford student. I knew the best study spots, I had a favorite grocery store, and the guy at the kebab shop even knew my order (shoutout to Ahmed). I still miss the English culture, and my experiences have inspired me to move abroad at some point in the future.

The Friends

Lastly, the incredible friendships that I made throughout the five weeks was one of the best parts about my time in England. We studied together, made memories in the Univ pub, and traveled on the weekends. Living together and studying abroad is a great bonding experience, and I am so glad that I was able to become friends with people that I still see at SMU.

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity. SMU students are World Changers, and studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to expand horizons and make unforgettable memories.

Pony up!


Research at SMU

Hi! My name is Eliana Abraham and I am a sophomore from Plano, TX double majoring in biology and health & society and minoring in psychology on the pre-health track.

The professors at SMU, in addition to teaching classes, conduct research in their respective fields. Opportunities for research exist outside of the hard sciences. Two examples from my own friends are projects for history and economics. My research experience began after my freshman year during which I discovered a new interest.

Before attending SMU, I had never taken a psychology class. After enrolling in PSYC 1300 with Dr. Susan Hornstein during my first semester, my fascination with the subject led me to decide to add a psychology minor to my academic career. When considering the research opportunities at SMU, I decided to send emails to biology and psychology labs. This method of reaching out to any lab that interested me was suggested by professors and student mentors.

Ultimately, I became an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Anxiety and Depression Research Center (ARDC) at SMU. This center tackles anxiety and depression from clinical intervention and biological perspectives. I personally help with Natalie Tunnell’s project studying the effects of a particular therapy for pregnant women. When I became a Research Assistant, this study was still being approved by the Institutional Review Board. Since joining the ARDC, my tasks have included extensive literature reviews, creating the online versions for the surveys, and recruiting participants. It has been an incredible experience to be a part of this project from its beginning. Moving forward, I plan to continue my work at the ARDC. This time next year, I hope to pursue my own project under the guidance of Natalie, the other PhD students, and the directors of the center.

Once realizing my passion for psychology and finding the ARDC, I was able to so easily envision how this research opportunity would greatly enhance my academic life at SMU. Regarding academics, my two recommendations to incoming students would be to let yourself be pleasantly surprised by a class and to connect yourself to the opportunities on campus, even if that’s by sending emails expressing your interest. SMU is the place to explore your newfound passions, and to have those passions be shaped into an incredible experience, with the help of your mentors.

Academics Ambassadors Campus Life Careers

Why I Chose SMU!

SMU has given me…

an outstanding education.

inspiring friends who will make a difference in the world.

the opportunity to push myself to higher achievement.

experiences with a variety of accomplished people in the world.

travel to gain education in various locations.

connection with the local Dallas community.

internships with top companies, such as Amazon.

leadership capabilities.

the best memories.

an experience of a lifetime.


As an SMU Senior finishing my last semester from home, I am grateful for the time I was able to spend on campus, although I for sure took my time there for granted. I have had the opportunity to reflect on truly what SMU has meant to me over the past 4 years during this global pandemic. I have come to realize that SMU provided me a community that went way beyond the classroom.

Originally, I chose SMU because of the medium-sized student population, the city of Dallas, wide range of alumni community, and the individuals I met while touring campus prior to attending were inspiring and challenged me to choose a school that would help me achieve my dreams. Little did I know when I made the decision to attend SMU the benefits have totally gone beyond my initial expectations. SMU has really pushed me to define my values and understand what I want in life. This has enabled me to seek employment in areas that really matter for a long-term career. As a whole, the SMU student body is a community of leaders and future world changers. SMU students don’t just sit back and watch as the world changes them… they seek out opportunities to change the world. Dallas is truly a launching point to achieving dreams and making large impacts globally.

As I sit in my living room at home as an out of state student, I long for the missed days on the SMU campus with my friends. However, at SMU, college isn’t just 4 years… it is truly a lifetime. A lifetime of an education, connections, and leadership abilities that will make great dreams become platforms to greatly impact the world. While my time at SMU is coming to an end, I am truly grateful for the SMU community that will continue no matter where life takes me. Four years ago, I was a lost Freshman searching for a community that would aid in the shaping of my future. As I will soon gain my SMU diploma, I will leave this campus as a strong, independent world changer leaving with a firm foundation of an education and a community that will support me no matter the unforeseen future. SMU has ignited my passions and a drive to achieve my dreams. 4 years fly by so soak up every moment of it!!

Once a Mustang, always a Mustang!

Laura Catherine Harrell

Class of 2020


Academics Transferring to SMU

Transferring to SMU

Applying and deciding on a college is already a tough and tedious process. Now, imagine already being in college and deciding to go through it again. I was attending a highly recognized, four-year university that had been my dream school for as long as I can remember. At the end of my freshman year, I could not stop crying on my flight back to Mexico for the summer. I was so confused as to why I was crying when I had just finished what I thought to be a great first year of college. The summer gave me plenty of time to reflect on my past year and helped me realize that what I had thought was my dream college was not the place for me. It was time to talk to my parents about the idea of transferring. As I looked into universities, I already knew what I was looking for. I wanted a university that offered the idea of community, but at the same time allowed me to develop globally. I wanted a university that offered world-renowned academics, but also allowed me to have close relationships with my professors and fellow classmates. SMU was the best option and the only school I applied to transfer to.

Transferring can be a very scary process. I was coming into a new university without knowing anyone and as an international student. I met many of my best friends the first week of classes. People were extremely accepting and meeting people was not as hard as I thought it would be. Adjusting to classes was not hard either; teachers were helpful and I soon realized that I was not the only one in my situation. Orientation and other events allowed me to meet other transfers that were going through the same adjustment. Even when I wasn’t completely settled in, I already knew I had made the right choice by transferring. I felt more at home and happier at SMU then at my previous university. Classes were more enjoyable and I soon realized the amazing things Dallas has to offer. To this day, I can easily say that transferring has been one of the hardest decisions I have made, but it has a rewarded me with amazing friendships and a much more satisfying college education and overall experience. SMU has become my second home and I know that the day I leave I will cry, because of how much I will miss this University.  

Ivonne Juraidini

Academics Life Around Dallas Lyle School of Engineering

Beating the Heat and Learning About the World

Coming from California, I’ve been asked countless times by family and friends, “How’s the weather in Texas?” More often than not my response is, “Hot!” And yes, it is hot for the majority of the year, but you adapt quickly so the heat is nothing to fear. Lucky for SMU students, Dallas is home to many impressive museums and entertaining indoor activities for us to enjoy while beating the heat. When I have family or friends visiting and I know it’s going to be a warm day, I love to take them to the Dallas World Aquarium and the Perot Museum.

During Family Weekend of my sophomore year, I took my parents to the Dallas World Aquarium. We all expected a fairly typical aquarium experience with all the familiar aquatic life. You can imagine our surprised looks when we entered the aquarium to see two sloths dangling from a tree, a shoebill stork splashing in the water and an anteater running about its enclosure. The DWA has a collection of the six main classes of animals: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. Expect to see crocodiles, river otters, a manatee, spiders, bats, penguins and a jaguar just to name a few of the incredible animals you can find in the aquarium. Being the nerd I am, I try to go to all the info sessions the DWA offers to educate visitors on the dozens of exhibits they host. That’s probably why I’ve been there three times and one of the reasons I love having friends and family visit: it gives me an excuse to go back to learn about these amazing animals.

Another great museum for students to visit is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, perfect for those interested in biology, engineering, physics, geology and paleontology. When my girlfriend visited last spring, we decided it would be a good spot to visit and we’d be able to explore a different side of Dallas. Studying biology, she was extremely excited when we arrived at the “Discovering Life” and “Being Human” Halls. I still laugh when I think about how she’d tell me something she’d learned in class, and within thirty seconds we’d find that same fact displayed in the museum. I was just as excited when we arrived at the “Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation” Hall. As a computer science major, the engineering hall was my playground. What I love most about the Perot, is its hands-on learning experience, where guests are encouraged to interact with a majority of the displays. My favorite activity was being able to program a robot to navigate an obstacle course. And while I struggled to no end with making it to the end of that course, I had a blast learning about my field of interest.

So yes, Dallas is a hot spot. Not just in temperature, but in entertaining and educational exhibits for all to enjoy. I still plan on exploring the Dallas Museum of Art and the Dallas Zoo when I get the chance. I can’t wait to share my experience!

Christopher Lanoie