Mustang Corral 2014: Who Will Win the Commons Cup?

mustang corralBy Carlyle Reid

This year I got to re-live my experience at Mustang Corral as a leader. Mustang Corral is a summer orientation camp for all incoming First-Years to SMU. I was a leader for incoming students to my Residential Commons, Loyd Commons. The entire three days were spent competing for points towards the Commons Cup, a “Harry Potter”-like competition between all of the eleven Residential Commons, where at the end of the semester, one commons will reign supreme and receive the Cup rights for the year.

(Picture taken at “Club Corral”, a dance party on the last night of Mustang Corral)

All of SMU was divided into three different camps. The Commons attending my camp were Armstrong, Crum, Virginia-Synder, and Loyd. We played games ranging from Commons Trivia (trivia about SMU), Capture-the-Commons (Capture the Flag), to the Rotunda Games (a fun field day). In addition to games for points towards the Commons-Cup, students are also put into small groups of about 12-16 students led by a leader from their Commons, where they do a variety of activities and get any questions about SMU answered. Unfortunately, Loyd did not win the weekend’s points, but we did come up with some awesome cheers and songs that we will continue to sing forever. We also developed a top secret hand-sign (make an L with your Pointer and Middle Finger sticking together for the L).

I loved being a leader at Mustang Corral because I got to know many students who are living with me in my Residential Commons this year. It was also fun to see incoming first years getting to know each other. Over 90% of incoming first-years attend Mustang Corral, so it is a great way for First-Years to make friends! In spite of the rivalries with other commons, we also got to know people in other Commons.

The picture attached shows my favorite event at Mustang Corral, to me, really shows SMU’s community. The last night at camp, we have “Club Corral,” where we play music and dance. The whole camp had glow sticks, and we were having so much fun dancing, that we had to cut off the dancing at 1 AM (sadly, we had to get up to leave the next day at 8 AM). I had so much fun and hope to go to Mustang Corral again next year, because you can never get too much of SMU!


An Open Letter: My SMU Experience

By Michael Saunders

Hey guys my name is Michael Saunders and I am a senior double majoring in Philosophy and Spanish!  I am a Resident Assistant in the Hilltop Scholars Community and an active member on the Cheer team and Hip Hop Club.  This semester has absolutely flown by, partly because every semester seems to, and partly because the job hunt, along with the rigorous training the Cheer team goes through as they prepare for College Nationals, are making it a little challenging to look up and watch the weeks pass by rather than race through each day with no concept of time!  I am having an incredible time, though, and am so grateful for all of the opportunities that this University has made available to me.  Whenever I have time to catch my breath in between classes and extracurriculars, I have a tendency to reflect on some of the many things I have been able to do since enrolling at SMU in the fall of 2010: Open for B.o.B, Study abroad in Madrid, the Hawaii Bowl, being introduced to President Bush, being there for as students stormed the court after our basketball team beat #7 Cincinnati in Moody.  These are only a few of the MANY stories and I can’t help but recognize that it has been an incredible ride and I know it is still far from over!  What happens next? Who knows!  I know that I certainly do not, but I can assure you that I am looking forward to the future and will do everything in my power to make a positive impact on this world.


Approaching the Semester’s End

p2By Adam Melson

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 hours visiting with their professors and studying in SMU’s various libraries 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!

Getting through finals isn’t an awful time at SMU because of the amenities that SMU provides for its students. Every night at SMU’s Fondren library, a “midnight breakfast” is catered for the students who are studying away during the night. SMU also provides free massages in the residence halls to relieve stress and provide a break for students who are focusing on exams.

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


May 1: Decision Day

smuBy Ryan Herrscher

Today is the day! If you were recently accepted into SMU, we hope that by now you have made the decision to join us here on our beautiful campus in Dallas, Texas. SMU is a wonderful school with abundant opportunities, and we think you are going to love it. You have a lot to look forward to this summer with AARO, Mustang Corral, and the beginning of the next chapter of your life! If, on the other hand, you made your decision and plan to go somewhere other than SMU, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Regardless of your choice, I think I speak for all of the SMU Ambassadors when I say congratulations on completing the process. For those of you headed towards the hilltop, we look forward to welcoming you to campus in the fall! Pony up!


Spring Break en Panamá

IMG_6094.1By Shauna Davis

This past Spring Break I had the opportunity to travel internationally with several SMU dance majors (and one engineer!).  The location was Panama and what brought us there was dance.  We worked with a group called Movement Exchange that has developed partnerships with orphanages in Panama, Brazil and the States.  Over the course of a week, we taught dance classes to underserved kids in orphanages, providing them an avenue for expression, building self-confidence, developing community, and having fun.  While there we taught other dancers at the University of Panama, tried some of the local food, and fumbled our way through the Spanish language.  Luckily we picked up the words baño, numbers 1-10 and bailar right away. Among the things I learned in Panama, here are some of my highlights.

5 of the many things I learned in Panama:

1- People are always willing and able to help

2- Children are energetic balls of fun, talent, patience and stamina

3- Zanahoria means carrot… and nananja (orange) zanahoria juice is very interesting

4- Panamanian people are extremely passionate and spiritual.  On October 21, Catholics thousands make a pilgrimage to Iglesia de San Felipe in Portobelo to witness Christo Negro (the Black Christ)

5- Power in numbers is very, VERY real people- with 9 students and a combined total of 8 years of high school Spanish (and about 17 years of French) the Movement Exchange students from SMU and FSU have combined forces and made a great curriculum for the kids.


A Day in the Life…

By Laura Spitler

A question we get fairly often as SMU Ambassadors is “what does a typical day look like for you?”  So I thought it might be fun to spell that out on here since it incorporates info about classes, homework, holding a job, and being involved on campus…

My alarm goes off at 8:30am.  Luckily for me, it’s a Tuesday and my first class doesn’t start until 11am.  But rather than sleep even later, I get up and use that time productively.  Today that means writing my portion of a business case assignment due on Thursday.  It’s a marketing case about Frito Lay’s introduction of SunChips and I’ve got a group of 4 to help get all the questions answered.  Since I live off campus, I try to leave my apartment by 10:40 to give me time to drive to campus, park, and get to my class in plenty of time.

Now I’ve have three back to back classes that are each 80 minutes long. First is the Sociology of Culture, then Consumer Behavior, then Product and Brand Management (the course I was just doing homework for).  So this means I’m in class from 11am until 3:20pm, with 10 minute passing periods to change buildings when need be (my last two classes are actually in the same room!).  Unfortunately this line up of classes is effective for knocking out the classes, but it means I don’t really get a lunch…that’s my bad, I planned it this way.  I just bring a granola bar to eat in class and then get to eat a substantial “snack” when classes release.

The next thing on my schedule is meeting with one of the advertising professors at 4pm.  I’m hoping to get into a Mayterm class she is teaching in New York City, and she wants to meet with all the interested students since she can only pick 12 to attend.  This sounds like such an amazing opportunity because it would mean getting to network with successful SMU alums that now work for places like Nike and, plus we could learn more about different sides of advertising and marketing in a very hands-on way.

Now I get to head home, throw in a load of laundry, and start making a study guide for my upcoming sociology exam.  Before I know it, it is 6pm and I need to think about making dinner and heading back to campus for a meeting of a Christian Woman’s group that I am currently secretary of.  We meet in the Hughes Trigg Student Center to sing songs, pray, and talk about the upcoming events we having coming up, like Relay for Life.  When the meeting wraps up an hour later it’s off to the Dedman Rec Center for me.  I’m a part of the SMU Ballroom Dance team and we practice here two hours every Tuesday night.  Right now we are prepping for our big spring competition held in Austin (road trip!).  It’s about 10:45pm before I finally make it home for the night.  I’m worn out, but it’s been a productive, fun day.


A Look Back on Spring Break

By Elishah Ramos

For this past Spring Break I was fortunate enough to serve the Memphis community by working on the Mississippi River in river cleanup. Here at SMU, we have the option to participate in an Alternative Breaks program for our fall, winter, and spring breaks. Last year, picI participated in a spring break trip to Indianapolis, Indiana to work on urban gardening and this past winter break I was in Quito, Ecuador working with low-income children who work in their street markets. After participating in two amazing trips, I decided to be a site leader for the Memphis, Tennessee trip.

While in Memphis, we worked with Chad Pregracke and his non-profit, Living Lands and Waters. They work cleaning up the Mississippi River and several other rivers in multiple states. He was even featured as a CNN hero of the year! It was a very humbling experience and it really helped the group understand a concept that was vaguely familiar to all of us in a more personal level. While we were there, one of the participants in our group was even interviewed for a Memphis news channel. Working with over 15 other schools for a great cause led to a very rewarding spring break.


SMU Pom Squad: Bringing the Spirit

p3By Blake Ann Seeker

It has been an honor and privilege to support SMU athletics this past year, as a member of the SMU Pom Squad.  What began with tryouts last May has lead the ‘pommies’ to march in parades, boulevard with fellow mustangs, cheer on our teams to victory, watch the Larry Brown Era take off with the opening of the new Moody, and so much more. p2As other sports seasons wind down, the SMU Pom squad will now put down the pom poms and do some competing of our own. On April 9th, both spirit squads, Pom and Cheer, will head to Daytona, Florida for the national competition. This is the first time the Pom squad will return to the competition since the current seniors were but first year students at SMU. The team, led by Coach Lori Todd, has worked hard to prepare and hopes to “shine bright” (a recurring theme in the song’s lyrics) in our performance.  We would love for any and all members of SMU community, including prospective students in the area, to come to our routine showoff this Friday, April 4th at 6pm. Hope to see everyone then, in the Dedman Rec Center!


The Artsy Side of Life at SMU

1607112_10202451461061709_233284073_n[1]By Shannon Conboy

My favorite part about being at SMU as a Vocal Performance major is the balance I am able to maintain between focusing wholeheartedly on my training and being social and involved on campus. I’ve heard people speak of Meadows School of the Arts as being a conservatory-style school as far as training and this is something with which I fully agree. I love that I get that intensive training but am still on a University campus and am able to take advantage of all the opportunities outside of my Major. This February; however, I was given the chance to fully submerge myself in my opera major.

As a Meadows student, I have many unique opportunities to participate in shows for the rest of SMU’s campus. The largest production I’ve been a part of thus far recently finished, but it was such an incredible experience!1510763_10151933320642286_1293171742_n[1] I was cast in the opera this year as a sophomore, and spent my winter break and the first half of this semester completely consumed in the production. This year, Meadows produced Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera. I think my favorite part about the production was getting to experience the life-style and rehearsal setting that I’ll hopefully someday be experiencing as a professional. I loved working alongside the graduate students and soaking up all I could from them as well. Probably the most exciting time for me was putting the production together with the orchestra. Singing with a live orchestra is something not a whole lot of undergraduate students can claim to have experienced, and I definitely didn’t take the experience lightly!

The opera was great for me as well as all my friends who decided to attend! I think it’s awesome when I have a friend who is a Business or English major, someone who never would have previously been interested in watching an opera, and they come to appreciate the Meadows shows. It would be silly not to take advantage of all of the (cheap or free) shows that the school offers its students! It’s all right at our fingertips and I certainly love that all-encompassing aspect of SMU as well as when I get to share my major with everyone through these Meadows shows.


Let’s Go To Taos!

taosBy Taylor Corrigan

With all of the endless opportunities SMU has to offer during the school year, the possibilities don’t end with the arrival of summer – the adventures are just beginning! For me, they are in Taos, New Mexico, where I will take a business course and a physical fitness class for the month of May (which are just two among a long list of courses offered). As soon as finals are over, I will head to Fort Burgwin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to take a business elective course and hike the amazing forest. I have been listening to my friends rave about the Taos program ever since I became a Mustang, and now the opportunity is finally here!

I am looking forward to the adventure of a lifetime as I, along with six of my closest friends, make our way to New Mexico to learn and explore among the beautiful scenery. I am not really sure what to expect, but from what I’ve heard, I will become quite the hiker and do my best to stay afloat as I make my way down the rapids – all while learning the ins and outs of business law. Wish me luck!


Barney Was Created by a Pony!

By Billy Hightower

One of the many things that drew my eye about coming to SMU was the number of notable people that have attended SMU. There are accomplished former SMU in all types of different industries. In regards to politics SMU has had ten Congressmen, seven U.S. Ambassadors and two Senators. Laura Bush is one of our most connected alumni. We even have the Laura Bush Promenade, a gift given to our campus by George W. Bush as a tribute to his wife’s contribution to literacy and libraries. These close ties between the Bush Family and our campus have been immortalized through the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on campus last spring.

Over in the Business School there are CEOs and former CEOS from companies all over the world including Tom Thumb, Virgin America, Kroger, Texas Instruments and State Farm Insurance. SMU alumni have had very large impacts on science from, Willis Adcock, a chemist who helped develop the silicon transistor and James Cronin, a Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist. Mary Ellen Weber, a NASA Astronaut, did her M.B.A. at SMU.

In the performing arts there have been a plethora of former SMU students in popular culture. To all The Office fans out there Kathy Bates and Brian Baumgartner were both SMU students. The voice of Patrick on SpongeBob and Marshall Eriksen’s Father on How I Met Your Mother, Bill Fagerbakke, attended graduate school here. Barney was even created by a mustang. William Joyce, the creator of Rolie Polie Olie and creator of the conceptual characters for Toy Story, was also a SMUdent. In regards to big TV sitcoms Belita Moreno, otherwise known as Benny on the George Lopez show and Patricia Richardson, who portrayed Jill Taylor on Home Improvement, were both Mustangs.

Being a huge sports fan, the revere of SMU athletic alumni is in my opinion the coolest part about our alumni base. Jim Irsay, Owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts is a Mustang. Not only are there 5 SMU alumni in the Pro Football Hall of  Fame, the NFL record for rushing yards in a season is held by our own Eric Dickerson.

Now that you know SMU has had so many impactful students in the past, come be a part of the future. There are big shoes to feel but if anyone can do it a Mustang can!


Hunt Scholars Give Graffiti the Brush

By Carissa Laughlin

I have had the amazing privilege to be a part of the Hunt Leadership Scholarship program here at SMU. Ever since my first week of school freshman year, this program has provided me with amazing opportunities to grow and develop as a leader at SMU as well as in the greater Dallas community. Saturday November 9th, the Hunt Scholars participated in a community service day together. We all took a bus and spent the day painting over graffiti in Dallas for the City of Dallas’ “Give Graffiti the Brush” program. It was awesome to get to spend time with the other Hunt Scholars while at the same time giving back to the community!

pic(Pictured: SMU Tour Guides and Admission Ambassadors who are also Hunt Scholars)

The awesome thing is, community service projects are going on all of the time at SMU. Currently, the Relay for Life team is diligently planning the school wide event to fight cancer on Saturday April 5, 2014. There are organizations such as Mustang Heroes that pursue service projects to give back to the Dallas community every semester. And if you want to reach further than Dallas, there is a group on campus that plans Alternative Breaks to travel over Spring Break to different countries to create a global impact with other SMU students. When they say “World Changers Shaped Here,” they aren’t kidding. I’ve been enjoying my junior year thus far, and feel lucky every day to attend such a motivated, well-rounded, and forward-thinking university. Pony up!



There’s a lot of Heart in Hartshorne

By Liz Crowell

How I spent fall break of my junior year is not what people would typically imagine a college student doing.  This year I was privileged enough to travel to Hartshorne, Oklahoma with SMU Alternative Breaks and work to rebuild a home that the organization Rebuilding Together had sponsored.

Before I delve into my attempt of a lofty and deserving reflection of this trip I suppose I should first provide some background of Hartshorne and Rebuilding Together.  Hartshorne is a small town located just outside of McAlester, Oklahoma and 1,800 people call it home.  Around 26% of the population lives below the poverty line and is subject to the cyclical effects of such living conditions.  You can find vacant buildings lining downtown and four head start centers within the town limits.  Due to the poverty that Hartshorne faces, Rebuilding Together has become active in helping those living in unsound housing throughout the community.  Rebuilding Together is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the country that “provides critical repairs and renovations to low-income homeowners across the United States.”  In comparison to Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together works to repair homes that are in a dilapidated state rather than building homes from the beginning foundations.  In this small Oklahoman town, poverty knows no gender, race, or demographic.  It has plagued the town for years and yet, there is hope.  There is hope from the neighboring community of McAlester, hope in the eyes of Alan and Phillip of Rebuilding Together and while our group was there, hope that we made some kind of difference for at least a few people.  This trip may have only been four days, but oh what a 4-day alternative break it was.

After dropping off our bags at First United Methodist Church, our group immediately head off for the build site.  While we rocked down to Electric Ave. (thank you Hartshorne for that freeway exit and Eddy Grant for that classic) I began to wonder what exactly we would be doing to help these Hartshorne residents.  But once we unloaded the van and met Alan, who worked for Rebuilding Together I immediately realized we would be doing absolutely nothing that I expected.  Collectively we only had the construction experience of hanging a chandelier, and that experience was from our trip advisor Annie Bures.  However, Rebuilding Together did not hold that against us, and immediately entrusted us with the level of responsibility of a somewhat experienced person in construction.  While we were there we repaired two rooms that were in drastic need of some TLC.  To see a ‘room’ with no ceiling, no walls and a floor riddled with holes and be told that we were going to repair it, is incomparable.  The first order of business was to remove the rotten particle flooring and patch up the gaping holes.  Not as easy as it sounds, but with a little help from a crowbar and a circle saw we were able to finish the flooring in one day.  I could explain every detail of what we did and how we did it but I believe a list would suffice.  With 11 people and 209 labor hours we were able to drywall, joint tape, and mud two rooms; we also built a floor and ceiling, insulated, and wired and installed sockets. All in all, we created a master bedroom and front room for an ever-deserving couple.

By the time Tuesday afternoon rolled around, 15 people were able to stand in a room that had previously been a challenge to navigate safely.  I cannot put into words the feeling of not only accomplishment but of gratitude and appreciation I had as we circled up to say our goodbyes to the homeowners and Rebuilding Together.  That insurmountable feeling of knowing that where you stood four days before was a hole leading to the ground will be ingrained in my memory forever.  After this break, I come back knowing more about what man is capable of doing than ever before.  To witness the emotional, physical and spiritual strength of the homeowners as well as the alternative break program gives me hope in the future.  This notion particularly resonated with me as I watched Vicki and Rick display a resilient attitude and high-spirited outlook on life, especially in the face of their situation.  I have come back from this trip with new knowledge about home repair, life and the humanity in helping one another.  As John Wooden said, “you can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you”; and this year, I had four perfect days of fall break thanks to SMU Alternative Breaks.


InterSECTIONS Diversity Retreat

By Ashley Garner

Fall break is the best time of year. SMU students have the option to go on an alternative break trip, visit with family, take a road trip with some buddies, or simply relax and enjoy their vacation.

I decided to go on SMU’s first ever InterSECTIONS Diversity Retreat. I along with nearly 40 other students chose to spend half of our break learning about how diversity impacts our SMU community.

We spent our time in large and small group discussion talking about the way our diverse campus population impacts our students and our world. We each learned about the of value each person’s experiences and how different backgrounds create a richer SMU culture.

The retreat lasted 3 days and 2 nights and my favorite activity was the “Line of Privilege” activity. Our facilitator had us spread out along the edge of the building and read out a series of statements. If the statement applied to us, we would walk forward. There were some difficult questions that played in to gender, ethnic, and racial stereotypes. Yet, at the end of the activity we debriefed over how we all experience levels of privilege in our daily lives.

It was truly a great retreat and I would recommend to anyone who wishes to attend in the future. Pony Up!


Reflections of a ‘Senior’ Citizen

By Bri Strickland

It seems like just yesterday I was a wide-eyed first-year Mustang strolling the Boulevard, unsure of what the next four years had in store for me. I came to SMU without knowing a single person so my first few months were marked by awkward first encounters and countless handshakes. I remember wondering if I’d outgrown the campus or if I had even made the right decision to come over 1300 miles away from home.

Fast forward three years – home is no longer just in sunny South Florida. Half way across the country I’ve made a whole other life with friends that feel more like family. There’s something to be said about one day waking up as a college senior and relishing in the people you’ve surrounded yourself with. In retrospect some of my greatest college nights aren’t reminiscent of a scene from Animal House, but are late nights spent sitting in the halls talking for hours or going home with a local friend for Sunday night dinners with their family. The college experience is stereotyped and marked by an accumulation of social and academic expectations but the interpersonal connections made in these four years are often overlooked and underappreciated. I can honestly say that the people I’ve met at SMU are the kinds of people I want to continue to influence me and help to grow to as a person.

I can’t believe I ever thought I could outgrown the SMU campus or the city of Dallas itself. The ‘bucket-list’ I scribbled down in my dorm freshmen year, is only 25% complete. As a senior, I feel qualified in saying that I’ve never felt like I’ve outgrown my university or its city. Naturally, my first few years at SMU were characterized and filled with on campus happenings like movies on the lawn, sporting events and more. As I became an upperclassman, a whole new world outside of the campus walls opened up. I suddenly myself engaged and exploring Dallas itself more. Whether it was a new restaurant opening, an art gallery walk in Deep Ellum or catching up with recent SMU alums, I felt a reinvigorated surge of curisoity for the city around me.

Even after over three years at SMU, I find myself still experiencing new things and meeting new people. When it comes time to graduate in May, I don’t know if I can bring myself to leave because I feel as if the best is yet to be in this capitivating city and on this enchanting campus.

So I guess it’s time to consider graduate school then?