Academics Campus Life Life Around Dallas

Getting Coffee with a Professor?!?

One of my favorite times at SMU is the fall. The leaves are changing colors, the boulevards, and the pumpkins are out. However, my fall has been spent with the Strategy Brand Management track of Advertising. So far, I have loved getting to know the 15 people that I will be spending the rest of my college experience with! It is refreshing to be in classes that allow me to view concepts more openly and be surrounded by people who are equally as passionate.

Additionally, with new classes come new professors. My professors this fall have been some of the most engaging people I have ever met. Not only do they have a passion for the field of advertising, but also a passion for student development.

Picture from:
Picture from:

Last week I went to Union coffee, which is an SMU crowd favorite.  There is truly nothing better than Union coffee as the days get cooler! Besides the coffee, I was there to meet a professor. Professor Baldwin teaches Strategic Management. She thought it would be a cool place to meet outside of the classroom. She asked me the progress on my project, but further, Professor Baldwin asked me about what I was passionate about. She asked my what I see myself doing and what I ponder about.  Our conversation went far beyond the classroom. I left feeling encouraged about my future and affirmed in my studies.  It was very encouraging to hear about what she does besides teaching, and how she found her love for the industry. She explained the importance of contentment in this life stage. She challenged me to be more focused on the blessings that I have, than the fleeting stresses of everyday life.  This is one of those conversations that you truly feel that you could concur the world.  It was truly refreshing.

-Anna Scott Phillips



This year I started the Masters of Science in Accounting program at SMU after I graduated in May with a bachelor degree in accounting from the Hilltop. I knew a few things before starting graduate school. I love Dallas and SMU’s presence in the city, so I knew I didn’t want to leave just yet. I knew that this year would be very different from my undergraduate years, but was hoping that some of the great things about SMU would carry over into my graduate studies. After a few weeks into the program, I am pleased to say that ALL of the great things about SMU have carried over.

The majority of my friends studying accounting in my undergrad years followed suit and joined the masters program with me; there is definitely the Mustang Spirit still in the graduate school. Thanks to attending SMU for my undergraduate studies, I have seen or have had most of my professors. I believe that this has fostered a better learning environment since that relationship is already in place. As a student in the MSA program, I still have all the access to SMU facilities and campus perks, am able to cheer on the Mustangs at Boulevards every home game and still have all the opportunities for networking and career help that SMU provides all students. The Cox School of Business has made what would feel like a year in limbo feel like a year as part of a community.

In conclusion, I am so happy I am attending SMU again for my graduate studies. I now understand how truly great SMU is; it makes every student whether they are undergraduate, transfer or graduate, feel a part of the SMU community.

-Liz Crowell


Academics SMU Abroad

August Term in Taos

Niki CarenzaThis past August I got to study Business Law and Outdoor Adventures at SMU’s second campus in Taos, New Mexico and it was absolutely one of my favorite SMU experiences so far! Our campus is about 20 minutes outside the town of Taos and is entirely SMU students and faculty living and learning on campus. Courses offered range from business to anthropology to biology. Every day, students are in class from 9 am until noon. Afternoons free to explore all Taos has to offer! We have hiking trails right on campus and tons of other trails just minutes away that can take you up the neighboring mountains and show you absolutely breathtaking views. Living in the beautiful mountains of Taos provided the perfect opportunity for going on a hike and getting lost in nature! In my  outdoor adventure sports class, we got to go hiking during the week and on the weekends we got to go rock climbing, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, and horseback riding.

Another awesome part of studying in Taos was experiencing the local community. Every teacher made sure to take field trips to expose us to the local culture through visits to the local Native American pueblo, a sustainable living community called Earthships, and the Taos Ski Valley. Taos is a fun and funky little town with lots of art and music shops to explore, as well as some incredible restaurants that impressed us – even coming from all the delicious restaurants in Dallas! Taos locals rely on chile peppers in their cooking and it didn’t take us long at all to embrace their style of southwest cooking (even if Dallas Tex Mex will always hold #1 in our hearts!). Overall, the best and most memorable part of Taos was the instant community we all formed being on the smaller campus together and all the days and nights spent exploring Taos and enjoying everything it had to offer!

-Niki Carenza

Academics Campus Life Life Around Dallas

Approaching the Semester’s End

As the spring semester winds to an end, one obstacle lies in the way of students returning home, starting internships, and even graduating: final exam week. During this week, students will spend time visiting with their professors and studying in the various libraries on campus in order to prepare for the semester’s end. After the semester, many students will begin internships set up through SMU’s MustangTrak, which allows them to experience a new job setting and build up one’s credentials for after graduation. For those who are graduating, this is a bittersweet time; the senior class will close a chapter in their lives and finally enter the real world!

Enjoying a Mavericks game!
Enjoying a Mavericks game!

Getting through finals isn’t an awful time at SMU because of the amenities that SMU provides for its students. There’s still fun activities going on. Every night at SMU’s Fondren Library, a “midnight breakfast” is catered for the students who are studying away during the night. The library staff makes us pancakes and waffles with all the toppings and, most importantly, hot coffee! SMU also provides puppies to play with during finals week to relieve stress and provide a break for students who are focusing on exams. Students even find time to explore Dallas during this busy season. Just the other day, we attended a Mavs game at American Airlines Center after having a great dinner at Victory Tavern.

Although exam week is a burden for most college students, SMU goes out of their way in order to help us succeed. And we just have to remember that summer is just a few weeks away!

By Adam Melson

Academics SMU Abroad

SMU in Brussels

When I started my first semester at SMU, there were two things that topped my list of “Things I Must Accomplish In College.” Yes, I wanted to discover my career path and have the best four years of my life; but without exception, I was determined to study abroad and learn another language. Thanks to the French Department here at SMU, I’m currently spending a semester in Brussels, Belgium and having the best experience of my life.

Here in Brussels, I’m a student with a program called Internships in Francophone Europe (IFE). Available in Brussels, Paris, and Strasbourg, IFE is a fairly small program that focuses on cultural integration, and fortunately for me, it also has a great relationship with the French Department here at SMU. This semester-long program consists of 5 weeks of courses that are all taught in French, one week of vacation time to travel, and then an interest-specific internship that continues until the end of the semester. Each student is also required to write a 30 page research paper in French which, contrary to my initial belief, is actually much more fun (did I just say “fun” with “research paper?”) than it might sound. I’m currently half-way finished with my internship with the Brussels branch of the International Federation for Human Rights where I work with communications between human rights organizations and the European Union.

Outside of the Belgian Federal Parliament (I'm second row, on the right)
Outside of Parliament (I’m second row, on the right)

Throughout the 3 months that I’ve spent in Europe, I’ve visited 7 countries, immensely improved my second language of French only to begin to learn another (Dutch), and eaten more Belgian waffles and fries than I care to admit. Aside from the numbers, however, I’ve learned more about myself and the world than I ever thought possible. I’ve always known that studying abroad would be an incredible experience, but I never expected it to change me as much as it has.

Even though I often find myself missing Dallas Hall Lawn and the incredible people that I left at SMU, I’m always grateful for this opportunity that SMU has provided for me. Aside from receiving academic credits from the other side of the world, I’m receiving an experience of a lifetime that I know will help me change the world.

By Katie Maiers


Throwback Thursday: G.W. Bush Visits Class

By Austin Brown

Last semester SMU was lucky enough to have President George Bush on campus to speak about his new book 41: A Portrait Of My Father. It always strikes me how lucky we are as a student body to consistently have opportunities to attend speeches by the former president. Reflecting on this reminded me of my own experience with President Bush that I will share for you in my “Throwback Thursday” blog post. (This post was originally written in the fall of my sophomore year).

Untitled4Even though I am only a sophomore here at SMU I feel like I have already had the chance to do some pretty incredible things. This past Monday started off like all of my Mondays this semester until I got to my first class, Evolution of American Capitalism taught by Albert Niemi, Dean of the Cox School of Business. I first noticed that something was different about this class when a random photographer walked in to our class and took a few pictures. It was strange, but since it is such a cool class I thought maybe it was a picture for the school newspaper or something like that. Five seconds later my friend sitting next to me draws my attention to the door by blurting out “Dude look! It’s George Bush!” in a very excited tone.   To my surprise I see former President George W. Bush casually stroll down the stairs with a huge grin on his face.

After being greeted by a huge round of applause Bush proceeded to answer questions and talk to my class about: how much he loves the SMU student body, capitalism and the thought process behind his decisions during the 2008 Financial Crisis, current events, life lessons, and even his newfound hobby as a painter. I was also lucky enough to ask him a question. How many sophomores in college get to do that?

What really struck me about the whole experience was how George W. Bush was such a down to earth guy. He told us not to shy away from taking a few risks in your life and also not to be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Regardless of your political beliefs, the opportunity to listen to a former President of the United States in person, and even the chance to ask him a question, is something that I will never forget.


Declaring a Major: It’s No Minor Decision

blog post imageBy Blake Ann Seeker

Declaring your college major is a big step in your academic life. Many students, myself among them, remain “undecided” for some time. It’s a good idea to take a variety of classes, weigh options with the help of advisors and professors, or even reach out to the Hegi Family Career Development Center before making the big decision. I was in this position of uncertainty for my first two years at SMU. Not to worry though, as pre-med student I had plenty of medical school prerequisite courses to keep me busy. When SMU’s Anthropology Department announced the creation of new Health and Society Major this past summer, I knew my search was over. The Health and Society Major uniquely takes an interdisciplinary approach to the practice and study of health in global and cultural contexts. It also offers two tracks—one physiological and the other social and cultural. Through this curriculum, I have enjoyed classes from genetics to bioethics to medical anthropology.

My favorite class of the semester was the capstone of the course, Health in Cross Cultural Perspectives taught by Dr. Nia Parson. I was one only of six students in this round-table style class and can honestly and emphatically say that I loved attending this class each week. After all that deliberation, I am truly very happy with my major decision. I am also now following the trend of most SMU students by adding another major and minor! I am thankful to attend a university where such a flexible and personalized degree plan is possible. Pony Up!




Academic Spotlight: Wellness at SMU

By Whit Rasmussen

For the UC curriculum, every student is required to complete a physical wellness course. Walking, fencing, ping-pong, triathlon and basketball are just a few of the many classes to choose from. For my wellness credit, I decided to check off a bucket list item and signed up for marathon training. I couldn’t hide the sense of accomplishment when I added the class to my upcoming semester list. That is, until I actually realized signing up for the class meant running 26.2 miles. For any cross country or track runners out there, 26.2 miles might not seem too daunting. For a mildly in-shape College sophomore just looking to check off a bucket list item, every long weekend run felt like finals week all over again.

1391806_222872844556486_2011383281_nTo this day, almost a year after my marathon training, I attribute all of our class’s success to our professor, David Bertrand. Professor Bertrand educated, trained and inspired us through the grueling 3-month training program. Even though the class only met two times a week, we obviously had to train much more. Professor Bertrand often sacrificed a great deal of his time every week to schedule outside training runs, provide nutrition and training advice, or just hang out and have a good time.

As the weeks flew by and the marathon date moved closer and closer, what once seemed like a distant, unrealizable goal – to run 26.2 continuous miles – now seemed entirely possible. The sore legs, blistered feet and mental exhaustion became more and more bearable – our small class of 11 runners could feel the excitement looming. We were about to become marathoners! The final days leading up to the race seemed to take an eternity. Could we actually finish? In the end, the marathon was canceled due to the “icepocalypse” ice storm in December 2013. We were all clearly upset, we couldn’t achieve our final goal, 26.2 miles now seemed farther away than ever. Less than an hour after receiving the fateful email from the race directors, informing us of the cancelation, Professor Bertrand sent a follow up. It is hard to sum up an experience like training for a marathon in college with 11 other students, but Professor Bertrand’s email did just that. He reminded us of the amazing feat we had all accomplished.

Every runner in the class was prepared for that race and I have no doubt we all would have finished the race. Professor Bertrand reminded us that the race is not what mattered. The class was all about the experience of training for a marathon and succeeding. We all completed the training; all grew extremely close as friends and would never forget the lessons learning during that 3-month span. To this day, I remain in contact with everyone in my class and Professor Bertrand. The 11 runners in my class embody what is true of so many SMU students – we are ambitious, dedicated and committed to helping each other succeed. Marathon training wellness class is just one of an endless amount of examples. When you come to visit campus, ask other students to share their stories and I’m sure you will hear something very similar. If you choose to make SMU your home for the next four years, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Pony Up!


Put On Your Creative Hat

By Katie Maiers

As an advertising student, I often forget that research papers, minimum word requirements, and the typical academic fears that loom over many college students continue to exist. Don’t get me wrong: I still write an occasional paper now and then, but for the most part, my assigned work tends to feel more like assigned freedom.IMG_3810

My recent assignment in my Introduction to Creativity course was to make a “creative hat.” The only instruction was to make a hat, and the grade would depend on the creativity and execution of the idea. Yes, that’s it, and yes, that was my homework. Although it seems simple, it truly was a challenge. I went through countless ideas and totally failed, and the deadline was coming closer and closer each day.

I ended up making a hat out of a shoebox lid, real grass, and my own shoe. My inspiration came from one of my favorite things to do when I’m in need of inspiration: take a walk. I glued real grass from the nearby park where I usually walk onto the hat chunk by chunk, and I topped it all off with my own personal shoe.

Like many of the classes that I’ve been able to take at SMU, this course has taught me that when you’re having fun and enjoying yourself, work doesn’t even feel like work. I’ve been given a multitude of opportunities to take risks in the classroom and stretch my brain in ways that I would’ve never imagined, and all that I had to do was put on my creative hat!



Class Spotlight: Honors Marketing Practicum

By Lauren Lyngstad

This semester, I have had the opportunity to be a student in the Cox School of Business Honors Marketing Practicum. This course takes place every fall for a select group of graduating Marketing majors, and it has easily been one of my favorite courses that I have taken during my time at SMU. Essentially, at the beginning of the year we start off with 25 students in the class. From there, we divide into five teams consisting of five students. The teams are chosen draft-style–the class designates five leaders and each leader chooses their team members with a goal of creating the best, most well-rounded team. After that, the fun begins!

For the past four years, this course, and SMU, has partnered with FOX. Every year, FOX Sports kicks off the course by visiting the classroom and proposing a semester-long project to the class. From there, the five teams of student compete to develop the best solution to the project that FOX has presented. This year, we have been tasked with developing a national campaign for FOX Sports 1 soccer programming. At first, I must admit that I was a little bit intimidated by the gravity of the project. After all, this was a NATIONAL campaign! After the intimidation period passed, our group got down to business. We started off the semester by conducting extensive secondary and primary research. From there, we began to develop ad campaign ideas to present to FOX.

Earlier in March, executives and employees from FS1 flew out from Los Angeles and also joined us via Skype. Our group was given a 30-minute meeting to present our research, campaign ideas and receive employee feedback. It was such a phenomenal opportunity to be sitting in a conference with some of FS1’s most influential employees. We walked away from the meeting with praise, criticism and a renewed passion for the rest of the semester. Currently, we are working on finalizing our final campaign that will be presented to FOX Sports later this month. It has been an absolutely crazy ride, but we have had so much fun dreaming up advertising ideas for social media campaigns, print ads, commercials and more. I cannot wait to see our final product, and I am crossing my fingers that FS1 chooses our project!


Class Spotlight: Negotiations

By Laura Spitler

One of my favorite classes I am taking this semester is Negotiations, taught by Steve Denson.  For me, it counts as a business elective to round out my marketing degree.  I initially signed up for the course, because I know that being good at negotiating is a very important skill to have in the business world.  I was also aware that a portion of the pay disparity between men and women comes from the fact that women are less likely to negotiate their starting salary and subsequent raises.  I especially like that the class format allows us to put into practice what we are learning without needing to fear for our grade if we don’t get it right the first time.  The majority of our grade comes from participating in our class negotiations, not quizzes and tests that you cram for and then forget a few months later.

We do negotiations in pairs, small groups, and as a whole class (we have a whopping class size of 17) as we learn how to negotiate everything from starting salary to real estate.  Professor Denson even brought in the people who sold the most expensive house in Dallas this year ($16.5M!) to teach our lesson on real estate.  Did I mention they are SMU graduates? –how cool is that!

Many people are scared to negotiate, but by doing so once or twice a week for this class, I am getting much more comfortable with it.  Two weeks ago, I was in Houston for a ballroom competition and when checking my team into the hotel, I put my negotiation skills to work.  That hotel charges $9 per car for parking and we had 9 cars; a negotiating novice would assume this charge is non-negotiable, but by befriending the young hotel desk staffers and appealing that we are college students on a budget who could potentially stay at their hotel again next year for this same competition, I was able to talk them down to only charging us for 2 cars, saving over $60.


Dancing in the Fall

a1By Shauna Davis

I think I speak for the whole student body when I say that we are excited to have passed the halfway mark in the semester.  Sure, late nights of cramming for midterms are over, but for Meadows Dance majors, our biggest production is right around the corner.   This semester’s Fall Dance Concert opens next week and we are excited about the four new works (two of them world premiers) that we will have the chance to perform.

What I love about SMU is the all the opportunities it provides.  I was lucky enough to have been selected for Antony Tudor’s 1937 ballet, Dark Elegies. Because performance is live and subject to change at any moment, much of dance is passed down through an oral tradition.  So, in order to restage Dark Elegies, 80 year-old Donald Mahler, the senior stager of Tudor’s works traveled from New York to be with us here at SMU.  To be able to learn from someone who worked closely a2with an icon in the world of dance, even though his moves aren’t as spiffy as they were fifty years ago, is really extraordinary.  I get chills thinking about it!  He stayed with us for two weeks teaching us the choreography, learning our names(both wrong and right), and showing us his love of dance and it’s ability to send universal messages that touch us all.  He will be back to make the final touches on the piece this week and I am very excited.

Academics General

A Weekend in Taos

By Katelyn Hall

The typical weekend at SMU in the fall involves going to the football game, chatting by the tanning pool, and some time in the library. But this weekend, I swapped out the heat of Texas for the mountains and cool air of New Mexico.

khall pic

SMU has a campus in Taos, New Mexico, where students can go for summer terms or J-term in the winter. This weekend I went to Taos for a scholarship retreat.

While we were only there for three days, we managed to do all sorts of things. After a morning rafting on the Rio Grande River, we went hiking in the Sangre de Christo Mountains. We also explored the vast campus and sung together at a campfire. On our last day, we took a charter bus into Santa Fe. We walked around the plaza and ate pesole and sopapillas at the Plaza Café.

It was my third time at SMU-in-Taos, and it never gets old. I want to go to SMU-in-Taos this summer and take some classes at such a gorgeous campus.



Chemistry, Biology, and… Scuba Diving?

By Faith Michael

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 2.47.18 PMOne of the greatest opportunities college offers is the ability to take a class that allows the student to expand their horizons about the world. Called an adventurous spirit, I love exploring the world in ways that most people are unable to. For that reason, when SMU offered a beginning scuba diving course, I signed up for it immediately. For several weeks, my class, consisting of sixteen students, learned the fundamentals of scuba diving by literally getting our feet wet in the diving pool on campus. I met students from a wide variety of majors who had a passion to experience nature in the same way I did and we became more than a class, we became a mini-family. After hours of in-class lectures, diving exercises, learning different skills, and finally completing the online exam, I was awarded with my scuba diving certification card and college credit. In my opinion, it was a classic win-win situation for a college student.

As a biology and chemistry major, I have taken classes where we learn about the world and the various organisms that live in it, but taking this scuba diving course allowed me to jump straight into their environment and experience nature in its own habitat, something I wouldn’t have been able to do before. During the summer, I continued diving at a scuba park an hour from SMU and found a hobby where I could join academics and my passion together. I believe that this is one of the greatest gifts SMU provides for its students-the opportunity to take the lessons from the classroom and see their applications in the real world.  I, for one, am very grateful for this present that I know will last me a lifetime!


Spring Break 2013: Italia

By Mehdi Hami

While my friends were under the sun or on a boat during Spring Break, I was learning. It may seem weird to “learn” during Spring Break, but it was the best Spring Break I’ve ever had.

I’m in a class this semester that covers the Italian Renaissance in Florence and Venice. To complement the in-class portion of learning about the Renaissance, we got to go to Florence and Venice over Spring Break! With ten other students in the class, we flew to Italy and stayed there for the whole week.

Liz Blumberg, Liz O’Neill, and Brie Strickland, three other Ambassadors, went on the trip and made it that much better! We visited the most historic sites of the Renaissance and learned about a period in history that was filled with art, intellect, and innovation.

 From going to museums and old palaces to eating pizza like it was the last thing left on Earth, I honestly think I only slept a total of 35 hours the whole trip.  Seeing the cities late at night after all the tourists had gone to sleep was definitely the best part of the trip. It’s crazy how different everything looks and feels in silence and with only a few people there where thousands were just hours before. Sleep is overrated, especially in Italy.

Who has time to sleep in Venice and Florence? I’m never going to look back on my Spring Break in Italy and tell myself, “Man, I really wish I slept; I was so sleepy that night.”

Thanks to SMU for the greatest Spring Break ever.

Pony Up!