The Other Wes Moore

picBy Julius Henderson

Now in my 3rd year at SMU, I’ve had a chance to experience the college atmosphere and deal with many of the responsibilities that come with going to a school like SMU. One thing is for sure: college is about choices. As a matter of fact, life is about choices, and a recent experience that I had at here on campus really brought that to light for me.

During the first week of school, I had a chance to sit in on a lecture by Wes Moore, the author of The Other Wes Moore, the common reading book for the 2013-2014 school year. This story is geared around the lives of two individuals that were eerily similar, yet their journeys ended up in very different places. The story itself was very unique, as Wes touches on his childhood and takes us through the lives of himself as well as the other Wes, exploring the moments where their paths went in separate directions. Wes ended up as a Rhodes Scholar, studying at Oxford College as well as becoming a distinguished army veteran. The other Wes was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for a robbery that resulted in the death of a police officer.  The lecture proved to be such a valuable experience, as students across campus all came out to listen to Wes Moore talk about his experiences and how he’s used his own life and the life of the other Wes to demonstrate just how quickly one’s life can be changed with just one decision.

My biggest takeaway from going to see him speak was the simplicity of a message that has such significant implications. His message was clear: At all times, be conscious of your actions and the repercussions of those actions. As I continue through my college years, this awareness will continue to be strengthened, and I can only hope to make the type of impact that Wes Moore has had in some inner city communities through the example he has set. Ultimately, no one is perfect, but we must take advantage of what we can control, and that means making good choices, and knowing that those decisions will shape the future as we know it.

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.



Retreating to Taos

taosBy Mehdi Hami

Over Labor Day weekend, I took a trip to Taos, New Mexico, home to one of SMU’s three campuses. When people think of Taos, they think of the art and culture that defines the town. Of course, it is all that, but also so much more.

First of all, the Taos campus is huge. It’s bigger than the campus in Dallas! That means tons of room to jog, mountain bike, and build campfires. With its cool weather, I ended up taking long walks with my friends and sitting around several campfires. From playing games to singing songs, the best times in Taos were the ones spent outdoors.

Even though the campus is rather large, the buildings are all close to each other. The casitas (small dorms), cafeteria, auditorium, and tennis/basketball courts are all centrally located close to each other. There’s even a library and computer lab filled with Mac desktops. The Taos campus is really a college campus! Students have spent a whole semester there before and lots of SMU students take advantage of summer semesters in Taos.

One thing I always get excited about when I go to the Taos campus is the food. They have the best food there. There’s a small, wonderful staff of ladies working to keep us fed with amazing food at all times. In all honesty, even with all the hiking and biking, I gained about 5 pounds in the three days I spent in Taos. But believe me, it was all worth it.

Taos is a beautiful place that every SMU student should make room for in their four years at school. I’ve been there three times already, and I’m planning on going one last time as a senior.


My Summer at the Office of George W. Bush

By Courtney Quinn

Have lunch with a United States President? Check! This summer I was an administrative intern for the personal office of George W. Bush. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. I learned so much about the life of our 43rd President and what goes on post-presidency. The interns were very involved with Mr. Bush’s correspondence, including appreciation letters for military retirement and congratulatory acknowledgements for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. I was even in charge of maintaining the office’s main email account. Everything we worked on, whether big or small, was all significant because it represented Mr. Bush!

SMU has a great relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Bush. They have provided so many opportunities to students, especially with the addition of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on campus. I interned with other SMU students and my supervisor was even an SMU grad. There are ten staff members in the office and they were all so nice and ready to help with any of our questions. I loved getting to work with them! Mr. Bush is a very friendly and personable boss. He always stops into his staff’s offices and catches up and he even introduced himself to the interns on our first day at work! At the end of the summer, all the interns were invited to have lunch with Mr. Bush. It was very cool getting to personally talk with a former U.S. President and ask him anything we wanted to. He answered every question we had ranging from politics to his family to his hobbies; he had the whole room laughing the entire time. I gained so much knowledge this summer that will be very beneficial to my future career path. Throughout my past three years, SMU has provided so many amazing opportunities and I can’t wait to see what my last year has in store!


The Story of a Mustang Summer

By Michael Saunders

What have I been doing this summer?…….. Oh man, where to begin?  On May 22nd I flew to Heathrow Airport in London, England…. I brought with me a dufflebag, a backpack, and a whole lot of inexperience in European travels.  I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to see or do, I just knew that i wanted to experience Europe in a way I never would get to experience again, and eventually end up in Madrid, Spain where I would begin my Study Abroad Adventures on June 16th.  Jet lagged beyond belief, I spent the first few days in an endless cycle of going to bed at 4pm (because I lacked the mental fortitude to push until 4:20 or later) and waking up at 2 in the morning.  Eventually, with perseverance, 4 P.M. became 4:30 and 2 AM became 3 and I was able to conquer my mis timed sleep intervals.  Finally, after like 2 days, the adventures could begin!

I spent the next week traipsing through all of London, hopping on and off buses and the metro, trying to learn how to navigate through the city “like a boss”.  I carried my duffle bag and backpack with me everywhere I went, reason being, I was not sleeping in hostals…. or hotels… or inns…. or …. actually any form of fully closed and covered location.  I was sleeping on the streets or in train stations or on the tops of abandoned buildings…. why you ask?  Well, I don´t really know… It could be because I didn´t want to be a fully fledged tourist, or because I happened to be in London at the same time as the Champion´s Cup and every Dortmundt and Bayern Munich fan on the planet was occupying every available bed in the city, or lastly and probably most likely, because I wanted to have an adventure.  Touring Europe alone, with no working phone number or easily accessible wi-fi, on the streets, really learning what it means to survive/ be independent/ see what you are really capable of, with a language barrier in your face?  What college age guy doesn´t want to do that?  (I´m sure a surprisingly large number is raising their hand right now).

For those of you thinking it right now…. true, I didn´t technically have a language barrier to overcome.  I was in London and they technically speak English. Then I went to France….  I took a bus there because I found a good deal when I happened upon some wi-fi in the street.  What was France like? Well….. Legitimate of course.  The country is beautiful and I was able to see quite a large portion of the city through my Couch Surfing host.  Yes, I went couchsurfing.. . .  How is it?  To be completely honest, I thought I was going to die when I walked into my hosts suburban flat.  I´m not kidding, in my adult life I have never been so scared in my life…. Come find me in person.  I´ll tell you why.  Anyway, I survived! and headed to Rome approximately 5 days later. . . Upon arriving, my backpack with my laptop, camera, retainer, books, clothes, and whatever else important inside, was stolen from right underneath my nose… I was a little bummed but shook it off.  I spent the next few days exploring Rome on foot, running into long lost friends in front of epic monuments and sleeping under the pines of Rome on rainy nights.  It was incredible.

After that came Barcelona.  I have always been a Real Madrid fan, but I have to say that Barcelona is probably the most beautiful city I have ever encountered, in its own sort of special magical way.  I can´t explain it, but I can definitely say there is a genuine excitement and tangible energy in the air.  This time I stayed in “IN OUT” Hostel way up in the Mountains, and I must admit it was nice to sleep in a bed after so much time.  It was June 4th when I arrived in Barcelona but on June 7th, at long last, I arrived in Madrid…. my future home.  I spent the week before the program started, making friends, exploring the city, and discovering what it really meant to rule the night.  I can confidently say, the night life in Madrid/ Spain is unlike anything you will ever experience… anywhere else….. ever…. It just doesn´t make sense.  Even now, as I sit here at this computer in my current place of residence, in Madrid…. I am blown away.  Maybe I will be able to grasp it when I arrive stateside.

Classes began on the 16th and I was finally reunited with Americans that I knew!  Oh what a glorious feeling!  I kind of felt like the Prodigal Son upon return…… when he…….or….. actually I have no clue where I was going with that….  Please forgive my horrible analogy.  Then, *snaps fingers* just like that, the program was over.  Everyone left me and headed back to the states, aside from a few stragglers who traversed through other European cities.  It hit me, when everyone left, that I didn´t…. really… have friends anymore.  I mean yeah a couple of them that I had made before the program began, but…. not the multitudes that I had grown accustomed too at SMU.  I naturally decided I should go to SOL (the main plaza in Madrid) and read my Spanish English dictionary while soaking up the culture…. I had been there for maybe 20 minutes when I happened to see some Break-dancers getting ready to put on a show.  I just recently got into dance and recognized many of the moves they were warming up, so naturally decided to go over to them and try to start a conversation…. 4 hours later we were buen amigos, and they told me where they would be practicing the following day.  I headed there at about 6pm the following day and to my surprise found them and around 30-60 other breakers just dancing away in front of the Corte Ingles (a huge store that sells literally everything).  I had thought that “Vinotinto” – the crew from Venezuela that I had met the previous day, was having a private practice, but I found out the next day that those dancers dance there EVERY day.  I had, without knowing it, stumbled upon this huge group of underground dancers that was comprised of breakers, poppers and lockers, and even ballerinas.  They were extremely welcoming and accepted me into the group like family.

Every day I head over to El Corte Ingles, meet my talented new friends and dance the day away.  They are all so much more advanced than I, but never fail to reach down and give me a helping hand.  I now have a huge, loving family overseas that I get to grow with as a dancer, and practice my rapidly improving Spanish.  They usually break (dance) until at least 1 in the morning, but I leave at about 10 pm to go meet my closest friends Stuart, Justin and bboy Geeroh at Sol to help them put on the daily performances.  My summer has been absolutely incredible and it is STILL not over.  Each day is filled with more and more excitement, and I think today will be my first day street performing with the crew.  I can´t wait!

I honestly could not love life any more than I do right now.  This has easily been the most engaging, impactful and productive summer of my life, and I could not be more grateful to the Hunt Family and SMU Abroad/ SMU for making it possible.  I have always known that I have been blessed, but this summer has really showed me to what extent.  I was blessed to have been born in America, blessed to have parents that love me (at least I think they do) and above many many other things, blessed to have been given the opportunity to study, learn, and be my adventurous self at SMU.  Now, I´m not saying that SMU is right for everybody, but if you read this far, you should either go fill out that application to SMU or start jumping for joy because you were just reminded how incredible it is to be a part of the MUSTANG NATION.


Reflections at the Halfway Point

By Laura Spitler

As my junior year is gearing up to start in the next few weeks, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that I’m already half-way through with college (or less if I graduate early!).  It wasn’t too long ago that I was in y’alls shoes- combing over college rankings, admissions websites, and trying to figure out where I would both be happy and receive a wonderful education.  Yet a whole two years at SMU have already flown by, and it’s a bit scary to think that in the blink of an eye I will be a working adult in the “real world.”

Here are some highlights of my first two years:

  • Working two different internships to gain marketing experience.
  • Getting to sit in the front row at the SMU Founder’s Day celebration this year and hear special guest, George W. Bush speak.
  • Convincing Student Senate to fund flights to Boston allowing the Ballroom Dance team (of which I’m captain) to compete at one of the largest collegiate competitions in the U.S., The Harvard Invitational. It was our first out-of-state competition ever!
  • *Spending two months studying abroad in London and getting to visit Paris, Milan, Zurich, Stonehenge, Bath, and more while I was over there…I missed the royal baby’s birth by a week!
  • Becoming super close with all the new friends I’ve made here whether from my residence hall, classes, or extra-curricular activities.
  • And of course, getting to serve as an SMU Ambassador!  I remember hesitantly visiting campus my senior year and my tour guide played a huge part in my decision to come to SMU.  She was so sweet and down-to-earth, and her personal stories she shared made me feel like I could be really happy here.  That experience really made me want to give back to the school by being that pivotal person in other student’s college decisions.

My time at SMU was been wonderful so far, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


Road Trip to Austin

By John Morrow

Texas summers provide plenty of opportunities for students to travel throughout the state. This past weekend, a group of friends and I took a road trip down to Austin. We kicked off Saturday morning with breakfast at Texas Honey Ham (I highly recommend the breakfast tacos). After stuffing our faces, we hopped into our cars and made our way Morrowto San Marcos, TX; a popular starting point for floating the river. With plenty of sunscreen (or so we thought) and water, we grabbed our inner tubes and began our “three” hour float of the San Marcos river.

There were so many people on the river that it seemed liked all of Texas decided to float with us! Needless to say, our three hour float quickly became a five hour affair. A combination of college students, locals, and an eccentric group of Yo-Pros sporting suits (on a river!) presented some of the best people watching Texas can provide. Halfway through the float, we noticed a Mustang hat down the river! After a few minutes of frantic paddling, we caught up and introduced ourselves. Turns out they were fellow students and we even have a class together in the fall.

You never know where the Mustang family is going to find you!


Intern Life at AT&T

imageBy Liz Dubret

This summer I had the best job interning at AT&T. I got the best of both worlds, because I got to work at the headquarters in Downtown Dallas and at the innovation center, the Foundry, in Plano. The two different environments were really cool to experience. One is your typical corporate America business center that is comprised of four buildings and an entire plaza. But the other is not your typical work space. We ride scooters around the office, take phone calls on couches, and stay physically fit by walking while working at the treadmill desk. I got to work on two really interesting projects and even participated in a product launch. The program also planned fun activities for us to do as an intern class: movie night, Rangers games, sand volleyball, etc. It was a great way to bond with the people I spent every day working with. All in all, it was a great summer working and having fun.



Dining with Decision Makers

By Will Slack

SMU is a unique university. Our university’s administration welcomes suggestions and ideas from students regarding university improvement and policy change. One venue in which students are able to voice concerns and ideas is through the Dining with Decision Makers event. Held annually, this event is coordinated by the University’s Board of Trustees and allows students the opportunity to meet and speak with current board members. The Board of Trustees exists to guide and direct the university to further our mission statement, budget for future growth/capital improvement, and improve the student experience. During this event students are treated to a formal dinner with trustees. This dinner allows students to speak candidly with board members, thank them for their contributions to the university, and discuss student needs. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Dining with Decision Makers 2013. Undoubtedly, this has been one of my favorite SMU memories; I had the opportunity to speak with engaging board members and glimpse the future of our university. While SMU is focused on the past and present, we place a heavy emphasis on where the university can be in the future. I can truthfully say SMU is heading in an exciting direction and incoming student leaders (future Mustangs) have the opportunity to work with the university’s administration and board members to shape this future.

Academics General

Shaq Attack

By Brie Strickland

I still remember the day the Miami Heat signed Shaquille O’Neal. It was one of the greatest days because my parents jumped at the opportunity to get season tickets. Fast forward eight years and I’m get a late afternoon phone call from a friend asking if I’d like to go to lecture with Dr. O’Neal. Yes you read that right- the NBA powerhouse also has a PhD from Barry University in Miami.

As I settled in my seat in the intimate O’Donnell Auditorium on SMU’s campus, the crowd suddenly went silent. Ducking to fit through the doorway was Shaq himself, escorted by a five foot tall female cop. Couldn’t Shaq serve as him own bodyguard?  Nonetheless, he sat down and as he did his presence immediately consumed the room. I’ll be honest, I was not expecting much. I figured his PhD was on free throw physics, even though it didn’t seem to help him during his career. Instead, I discovered that his research was in humor and organizational leadership. An interesting combination coming from the man that brought us the 90s cinematic classic, KAZAAM.

At the end up the lecture of humor communications, the floor was opened to the students for Q&A. I was called on and when I mentioned I was an Anthropology major, Shaq used his famous wit to make an Indiana Jones remark. At the end of the program, Shaq made his way to his car surrounded by security and his small entourage. Luckily, my car was parked in the same direction and I got to snag a picture with one of my basketball heroes. The picture really sums it all up because, at a little over five feet tall, I barely reach his elbow. What an amazing way to spend a Friday night at SMU!


I’m From Manhattan. Manhattan, Kansas That is…#TBT

By Andrew Galloway

On this #ThrowBackThursday, I reflect back on the days at SMU way before Twitter and even (gasp) “The” Facebook.  Coming to SMU from Manhattan, Kansas in 2004 was, let’s say, a change of pace.  Apparently, and I still don’t believe this, jean shorts and calf-high socks with sandals were not “in style.” 

Despite my supposed fashion no-no’s I still found a place at SMU.  Living in the Virginia-Snider honors residence hall was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  Not only did I get to tell my football teammates that I was living in the Honors dorm and thus cooler than all of them, but I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people that are some of my best friends today.  Whether it’s Varun from Plano, Texas (groomsman in his wedding), Thomas from Pearland, TX (groomsman in his wedding) or Hunter from Rutledge, Georgia (best man in his wedding), these friendships were all built at SMU and are life-lasting.

Some pretty amazing things happened to me during my time at SMU.  Former President George W. Bush held a political rally on campus, I met Tony Blair, I had four internships for top-notch marketing firms, we beat TCU in football, and my mother and I were flown to the White House in recognition of SMU getting named the site for the Bush Presidential Library and Political Institute.  All of these opportunities may happen at other schools, but it is so rare that all of them would happen at a school the size of SMU and to person like me that didn’t know anyone prior to coming to SMU.  Whether it’s a big-time internship that you seek or an intimate conversation with a world leader, SMU gives you the chance to actually experience these things first-hand.  I can honestly say that I would have been happy at a lot of different schools, but the opportunities for me to have incredibly rare experiences at SMU were unmatched.

As an incredibly proud Co-Chair of the Class of 2008 5-Year Reunion (I’m officially old), I can’t help but marvel at what lies in store for future Mustangs.  With the opening of the Bush Presidential Center, 5 brand-new residence halls to accomodate sophomores, and the move to the Big East with a brand new Moody Coliseum, SMU is just an unbelievable place to be a part of right now.  These massive construction projects are just the tip of the iceberg.   Who knows what phenomenal speakers SMU will bring to campus during your years at SMU or what exciting changes Dallas holds for the future. 

All I do know is this. It is an incredible time to be a Mustang at SMU and I couldn’t be more proud of my alma mater or of being a life-long member of the Mustang family.  Pony Up!


Make your Destination SMU

By Brie Strickland

The scariest time frame for any high school senior is the one in between submitting an application and the fateful day when a specially marked envelope is delivered. For those accepted there is a great sigh of relief until they realize they are not 100% sure on a school yet. Luckily, for accepted SMU students there is Destination SMU, better known as #DSMU in the social media realm. Destination SMU is two-day, overnight program that gives accepted students a greater look into the life of a SMU student. Special events includes “Taste of Dallas”, a lunch time event catered by some of my personal favorites- all of which are located within walking distance of SMU. Students are even given the option to stay overnight in one of the residence halls. The first event this year ended with ice cream sandwiches and a photo booth outside of Dallas Hall!

[Pictured: SMU Student Ambassadors Devin, Brie, Ramon and Phillip with newly committed Mustang, Joey Caruso]

Destination SMU is always one of my very favorite events of the spring because so many students commit to SMU right on the spot after this final visit. It reminds me of just three short years ago when I was a wide-eyed and enthusiastic high school senior. It’s funny to think that I’ve come so far since that time and how my love for SMU has only grown. I can’t wait for the next Destination SMU when hopefully even more accepted students will realize that SMU could be their new home!

Pony up!



By Ramon Trespalacios

What is being a hipster? I’ve always wondered, is it just not being mainstream? Going against the flow? Is it having a meager lifestyle?  Or just living life and acting without fear of judgment? In my opinion, hipsters don’t want to be categorized into social groups or norms; nonetheless there is a name for them (or us). One thing is for sure, hipsters exist and we all live together in harmony.

When I got to the states, two years ago I was starting a new era in my life. I was entering a world with different habits, customs, and culture. I became friends with people from different backgrounds (the Northeast, the West Coast, Asia, Europe). I basically encountered a clash of cultures.  I was immediately intrigued by the hipster philosophy.

A friend once told me, “Hey Ramon, let’s go study to this hipster coffee shop I know in uptown.” I agreed on his suggestion. I’m always willing to get to know new places and explore Dallas. We arrived to the location, and from the outside it just appeared to be an old house in the neighborhood with white walls. When we walked into the place, I noticed that the front steps were crooked and the door did not have a lock. My friend pushed it and we crossed the threshold into a new ambiance. Alternative music was playing and the fashion of the frequenters was totally novel to my eyes. I would say that there was a feeling of independence in the air.    It felt good, the room was unaffected by judgment. I got my iced coffee, sat in a wobbly stool, and studied with my friend for three hours. Time went by so fast, and I was able to get so much done. I was hipsterized.

Going to college is going to be a change in your life, and I strongly encourage you to explore and embrace your randomness (obviously making safe decisions). I believe that we need to take advantage of the opportunities that arise when the clash of cultures occur. At SMU, I have found people from all walks of life, and honestly it has helped me become the person I am today.


Making Memories with George W. Bush

By Kevin Hess

One of the groups that I’m involved in on campus recently had the opportunity to hear a “VIP Guest Speaker” before we all went to go see Sanjay Gupta give a Lecture as part of SMU’s Tate Lecture Series. We all showed up anxious to see who this mystery person would be. We were then surprised as a member of SMU’s Board of Trustees introduced President George W. Bush to our small group of 60-70 students. We were then treated to about 45 minutes of simply question-answer conversation with the former president. After this, we headed to a banquet hall where I shook Dr. Gupta’s hand before dinner and hearing his lecture. It was the night of a lifetime and an incredible opportunity that SMU made possible for me. These kind of nights truly show how much SMU cares about their students and making us better—Pony Up!


Senior Moment: Top 5 Favorites

By Anne Parker

As a senior, I have accumulated many amazing memories at SMU! I have loved every single second I have spent here. It is hard to pick what my favorite things are, but I have five that definitely top the list.

1. Boulevarding. This is what our version of tailgating is before our football games. It is SO much fun and the one time when everyone in the SMU community is all together for one purpose: to support our Mustangs!!

2. Homecoming week. I love everything about homecoming and especially the week spent building up to it. All of the different organizations come together to support their candidate. I made so many new friends and created so many memories during this time.

3. My major. Although I sometimes feel like I never leave the journalism department, or the J school as we like to call it, it has been the best experience of my life. I have friends I will keep in touch with for a lifetime and professors that have continued to push me to be the best I can be. I am leaving with as much knowledge about my career field as I feel I could have possibly learned as a student and I am prepared to face the real world.

4. Being involved. If I have one piece of advice to anyone that is a freshman it is to get as involved as SOON as possible. I have friends all over campus and I have had experiences I would not have been able to have if I had not jumped in full force to all that SMU has to offer!

5. Being an SMU ambassador. I get to talk about SMU all day everyday to prospective students! What better job could you ask for?