General Student Organizations

Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Kencell NixonAh, Spring Break. A time to kick back with your best friends on an exotic beach! Well usually. However this year I decided to spend my time in a more meaningful manner. I looked at potentially participating in a variety of service trips, and was almost all set to spend a week volunteering in New Orleans until I was contacted about an annual SMU trip called the “Civil Rights Pilgrimage!” The pilgrimage sounded like exactly what I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone and learn more about American history.

The trip was eight days in length, visiting different cities throughout the Deep South and fully immersing ourselves in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. We chartered a bus for the journey, and on March 4th we left the comfort of Dallas and traveled 7 hours to Little Rock, Arkansas to begin learning about “The Little Rock 9,” a group of 9 high school students who integrated Central High School in 1957, causing a national controversy. From Little Rock, we traveled to Selma, Alabama, home of the famous Voting Rights marches in 1965 led by Martin Luther King Jr. We ended up visiting a plethora of sights, museums, and exhibits in Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee throughout the pilgrimage.

We visited a variety of museums and historical sites on the pilgrimage, but the most incredible part of the journey was definitely getting to interact with people who were actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Considering the events occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, many participants in the movement are still alive today and those we met were more than willing to share their stories with us. One incomparable woman we encountered in Selma was Joanne Bland, who marched with Dr. King and was beaten and jailed for seeking the right to vote when she was 11 years old! Another incredible man we met was 87 year old Robert Graetz, the only white minister to participate in the Montgomery Bus Boycott! Learning from people that were instrumental in creating positive social change was an absolutely invaluable experience!

My Spring Break was filled with 8 days of happiness, tears, education, passion, and a call to create a world of equality and love for all of Earth’s inhabitants. I may have missed out on the beach sun, but I certainly believe my decision was the right one!

-Kencell Nixon

Student Organizations

A Breakdown of SMU Sports: Division I to Intramural

Lauren ZabaletaIf you’re someone that has been super involved in sports in high school, it may be difficult to decide whether or not to pursue them on the Hilltop. As someone who was in a similar spot as you just three years ago, I can give you an inside scoop on all the incredible options available to you here at SMU.

Division 1 Teams: When I first came to SMU, I became a member of the Women’s Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams. If you are someone that is considering participating in Division 1 athletics even a little bit, I would highly recommend giving it a shot. Being a member of these teams remains one of the highlights of my college career, and it certainly helped to define the person that I am today. I had a blast, was challenged daily, and had the opportunity to become best friends with an incredibly driven and talented group of teammates from all over the world.

Club Teams: If you’re looking for something a little less intense than Division 1, club teams are perfect for you. While still competitive, the time commitment is significantly less. I joined the SMU Women’s Club Soccer team this fall and I loved getting an opportunity to play a sport I love again on a competitive stage.

Intramural Sports: If you have played sports somewhat in your life or are interested in playing a sport that you have never played before, intramural sports are the way to go. Intramural sports are a great way to bond with people from throughout the SMU community. It doesn’t matter if you are a veteran flag football player or have never held a basketball in your life- intramurals has a place for everyone! From sand volleyball to ping pong, there are so many ways to get involved and have fun.

As you can see, opportunities in sports are plentiful at SMU, and it’s just one way that I have chosen to get involved. Pony up!

-Lauren Zabaleta

Student Organizations

A Night at Reunion Tower

03.16 Nadine KakishThere are a lot of cool things that come out of being involved in one of SMU’s a cappella groups, the SMU Belle Tones. Whether that’s singing the national anthem at SMU Men’s Basketball games, or performing in the presence of President Bush at Dining with Decision Makers, there’s always something to look forward to. Earlier this month, the Belle Tones had the opportunity to sing at an event in one of Dallas’ most iconic buildings: Reunion Tower. Being a Dallas native, I’m embarrassed to say that I had never gone up to the tower before this event, so needless to say I was incredibly excited to knock that off my bucket list.

The event consisted of groups of people from the Dallas area getting a reduced price at coming up to the top of the tower to check out the view! The event was fairly low key, but we absolutely had the best time singing some of our favorite songs for these groups of people. The event was (hopefully) not only enjoyable for the guests, but also enjoyable for us as students. I loved my experience so much because we got to see Dallas from one of the skyline’s standout features.

Reunion Tower has a series of interactive computer screens in which you can see and learn about the different historical landmarks in the city. I had so much fun messing around on the screens because it gave me the opportunity to learn a little bit more about my city in such a fun setting. I was all too thrilled to have the chance to do what I love in Reunion Tower through my campus involvement. This experience singing with the Belle Tones at Reunion Tower reminded me of all of the incredible opportunities that Dallas has to offer and made me so thankful to attend a school that offers me these experiences on a regular basis!

-Nadine Kakish

Student Organizations

Not Such an Anomaly


The above picture describes one of the most significant experiences I have been a part of here at SMU.  It amazes me how these group of students- who sat with me in chamber every Tuesday from 3:30pm-6:00pm- could teach me so much. As a member of the SMU 102nd student senate, I have learned what it means to thoroughly know and defend my positions, build coalitions, create change, and to speak up for others. In the 2015-2016 school year, I have had the pleasure of completing my term as a transfer student senator. Along with my responsibilities as a transfer senator, I was honored to work with seven other diverse student organizations that represent various cultures on campus.

It took me at least a semester to find “my” organization: an organization that put my passion to create change and my desire to connect with others to good use. When I first came to SMU, looking at the 250+ organizations on campus, I thought it would be nearly impossible to find something that would make me feel at home. I thought I was the anomaly transfer student who had to be an outsider. That was not the case! My psychology degree sister has a theory of the feeling of being an anomaly. She calls it the theory of singularity. It is the phenomenon in which people think that they are the only one who feel a certain way, do something a specific way, etc. In reality, that is seldom the case.

In college you find people that are just as geeky about culture as you are, students that care about lighting, parking, dinning, academic issues on campus, and most importantly passionate individuals that are as serious about becoming a world changer as you are. It is with these people that you find your home away from home. It is here that you discover that you are not an anomaly.

-Keya Tollossa

Campus Life Careers Cox Business School Life Around Dallas Student Organizations

Start-Ups Start Here!

Do you have the next Big Idea? Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to be an entrepreneur?

A picture from one of our club meetings.
A picture from one of our club meetings.

During high school, I started my own automotive accessories business and was fortunate enough to make a profit. Naturally, when I came to SMU, my first priority was to find the SMU Entrepreneurship Club. Upon membership, I met many other SMU students who also had entrepreneurial endeavors. I am so passionate about entrepreneurship that I am now, as a sophomore, the Vice President of the club. The SMU Entrepreneurship Club is one of SMU’s 200 student organizations and is one of the best resources available to get real world entrepreneurial experience. Whether you have the next billion-dollar idea, want help with an existing business, or simply want to hang out with cool people, the entrepreneurship club is for you!

The club prepares students for pitch competitions around the country and hosts guest speakers and pitch training events. One of my favorite events we do as a club is Shark Tank analysis. Shark Tank is a popular TV show in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of notable investors, such as Dallas local and billionaire Mark Cuban. In fact, a few SMU students have pitched their businesses on the show. The club plays the recorded pitches and collectively analyzes the pitcher’s strategy and techniques. The event is both educational and a lot of fun.

Entrepreneurial spirit on campus does not stop outside the club. SMU is one of the most entrepreneurial universities in the country. SMU is ranked #14 on Forbes’ list of “Start-up Schools: America’s Most Entrepreneurial Universities 2015.” This can be attributed to our very social, involved, and entrepreneurial student body, and also to the fact that Dallas provides the perfect incubator for starting businesses. Forbes ranked Dallas, TX #7 for the “Best Cities to Start a Business.”

If you answered “No” to all three of my initial questions, congratulations for reading this far. SMU offers 199 other student organizations; at least one will surely make you feel at home. My advice to you: get involved as soon as you step foot on campus.

Pony up!

-David Zimmer


Student Organizations

Objection: SMU Mock Trial is WAYY Too Cool!

Mock trial

I compete on the SMU Mock Trial team, a group that travels all over the nation simulating law proceedings and gaining both legal and theatrical experience. As a drama and speech enthusiast in high school, I pounced on the chance to join this nationally ranked team the second that I stepped foot on SMU’s campus as a sophomore. Why? Because it is just way too fun to pass up.

SMU Mock Trial competes with hundreds of universities across the nation. A team of witnesses and  attorneys (all students) are given a legal case, with all relevant  case law, rules of evidence, evidentiary exhibits, and witness affidavits. This year, our criminal case involves two men, a politician and a businessman, each being tried for bribery.

My team travels across the nation—this semester we’ve competed at the College of William and Mary and the University of Pennsylvania. In past semesters, we’ve traveled to Berkeley, Tucson, St. Louis, Tallahassee, Des Moines, Chicago, and New York. Annually, our Open Round Championships take place in Memphis, where we compete in the Shelby County Courthouse (which, interestingly enough is featured in Silence of the Lambs). Our weekends are full of both hard work and great fun— between sweeping the court room in our trial rounds, the Mock Trial team has toured Alcatraz, the United States Capitol, and the St. Louis Arch.

No matter what your interests are, getting involved with an incredible group like the SMU Mock Trial team is one of the key components to having a successful university experience.

Getting involved will help you find your home away from home: I can readily attest that the other Mockers on my team formed my first family here on campus.

-Blair Betik

Campus Life Life Around Dallas Student Organizations

J-Ice and Alternative Breaks

One of my favorite organizations at SMU is Alternative Breaks, which send students on community service trips over Fall, Winter and Spring breaks. It has provided me with not only eye-opening and perspective-expanding opportunities in Austin, New Orleans, and Quito, but also with extremely valuable leadership experience, planning, budgeting for, and leading trips. Hopefully it’s easy to see why I am passionate about this organization.Will O'Connor

While I have been able to use my time and leadership skills to support the organization, last night Jayce “J-Ice” Miller did the organization an incredibly fun service. The current president of the organization, riding momentum that the organization has with members having returned from their Fall Break trips a couple of weeks ago, took advantage an open mic night at Poor David’s Pub in South Dallas to put on quite a rap show. Not only was the show a blast for everyone who attended, but all of the proceeds went directly to Alternative Breaks to make the trips that much more affordable for students. The crowd was comprised of a mix of Jayce’s friends and supportive members of Alternative Breaks, in addition to those who just happened to be there at the time.

The show was a great success! Of the four shows that we saw (two before, one after J-Ice), Jayce had the largest number of supporters, and really got the crowd moving. He got a shout out in the show immediately following his for having such great fans. The show provided excellent entertainment and supported a worthy cause, two things that I and many other SMU students are all about. SMU students support their community, at SMU and otherwise, in a number of ways, and the J-Ice show on Thursday is just one example of the extraordinary ways that we put our abilities to great use.

-Will O’Connor

Campus Life Spirit and Traditions Student Organizations Uncategorized

Homecoming’s Top Perks

Alex HibbardHomecoming is an exciting time at SMU, and this year was no exception. Southern Methodist University was founded in 1911 and opened for 1915. This Homecoming was the 100th birthday of SMU and the faculty and students filled the entire week with fun activities to celebrate 100 years.

Every Homecoming, organizations pair together and participate in different activities. The Homecoming theme this year was based on previous years themes and organizations stuck to their designated theme the entire week. From Field Day to Rock the Vote, members from the organizations participated in all Homecoming events to try and earn points for his/her organization. Throughout the week, individuals painted Mustangs (Peruna Painting), decorated banners, built masterpieces using cans of food, shared images on social media, and built a float.

The celebration expanded way beyond the events listed above. Because this was the 100th birthday celebration of SMU, the school threw many events for students, faculty, and alumni. One of the first big events was the concert in Moody Coliseum. SMU brought in the Eli Young Band and students were able to attend the concert with just the swipe of their ID card. The band was incredible and it was a great way to celebrate SMU’s 100th year. On September 24th, SMU’s actual birthday, students, faculty, alumni, and other notable individuals were all on the north side of campus, celebrating with food, music, and carnival games.

The 100th year celebration ended Saturday Night after the football game with an incredible fireworks show. Fans went down to the field and looked up into the sky as fireworks were shot from all around the stadium. It was one of the most incredible firework shows I had ever been to and it was a great way to end a memorable week.

-Alex Hibbard


Campus Life Spirit and Traditions Student Organizations

SMU’s Centennial Homecoming

Caroline Gurley
I got to visit with President Turner after handing out prizes to Homecoming Queen and King winners!

This year’s Homecoming Celebrations are going to be remembered for a long time to come. SMU had its one hundredth birthday on Thursday, September 24th-the Thursday of Homecoming week! Because of this momentous achievement, SMU celebrated the achievements of the past century and the goals of the next all throughout the week. Students filled their free time by participating in the Homecoming activities and competitions held by SMU’s Student Foundation. I got to participate this year in Homecoming by leading it; I had the honor of being this year’s Student Foundation Homecoming Chair. This means that I got to work with an amazing group of students to plan the whole week. I’ll take some time now to describe what we did.

The week began on Friday, September 18th with candidate interviews. The candidates quickly showed the judges how involved they are at SMU and how much SMU means to them. Float building began the next day. Each year, student organizations build floats that are seen in the Homecoming parade. It is a large part of the competition for Homecoming spirit points, so teams give their best effort to make their float the best!

Sunday was a day full of fun. While float building continued, members from each organization participated in Field Day. Field Day is a race around campus. Each team must figure out a clue to find their next location and perform a task at that location. Each location was a blast!

Each day during the school week had a ton of activities planned as well! On Monday, each organization cheered loud at Rock The Vote, a pep rally celebrating the Homecoming candidates. Coach Chad Morris made an appearance and spoke to everyone about the game coming up. It was awesome! Tuesday was CANstruction. CANstruction is the philanthropic event of Homecoming. Organizations build structures out of cans that are then donated to the North Texas Food Bank. Wednesday was the Centennial Concert Celebration hosted by Program Council. They brought Cam and the Eli Young Band to campus to celebrate the University’s birthday at midnight. Thursday was the university’s 100th birthday. The day was full of celebrations and ceremonies; one that was particularly special was the Centennial Celebration. Thursday was also the night for late night float building that lasted until 2am. The organizations were working hard to finish their floats!

Finally, the weekend arrived! Saturday was a big day for everyone. The parade kicked off the celebrations for that day. Following the parade was the boulevard and then the football game against the James Madison Dukes. Following the game, SMU ended the birthday celebration with the best fireworks show Dallas has ever seen. SMU and the surrounding community came together to celebrate this momentous event. It really was a week that will be remembered for a long time to come!

-Caroline Gurley

Life Around Dallas Student Organizations

A Perfect Saturday

Katie Maiers White Rock Lake
A picture of the lake before I began paddle boarding.

Is summer truly over in Dallas? Nope. I refuse to admit it. As excited as I am for fall, I hate saying goodbye to the warm days of summer, and I especially hate saying goodbye to endless hours in/on the water. But let’s face it: Dallas weather will keep us warm for a bit longer, and even though it’s the middle of September, lake days haven’t disappeared just yet.

This past Saturday, I spent the day paddle boarding at White Rock Lake with SMU Outdoor Adventures. Outdoor Adventures (OA) is a program within the Department of Recreational Sports here at SMU. They sponsor a variety of trips and workshops for students to essentially get outdoors and explore all that nature has to offer. Whether you want to go skydiving, backpacking, or anything in between, the OA supplies equipment, an opportunity to meet other students, and a guaranteed good time.

On Saturday morning, our group of nine participants and two trip leaders headed out to the lake with a trailer of kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and materials to cookout what would be one of the most well-deserved lunches of my life. Although I’m not an ultra athletic person, I had paddle boarded a few times before in my hometown of Austin, Texas, but my previous experiences were nothing like this.

This trip was different. Yes, the current was stronger than we anticipated and I ended up paddling on my knees rather than standing up (I wanted to actually propel myself forward more than I wanted to stand; doing both was not possible), but this trip was so much better than anything I had done before. I was totally at peace, and I continuously thought about how happy I was to be on the water (Hoku’s “Perfect Day” might have been referenced a few times; I hummed it proudly). I had an opportunity to simply enjoy the day, and the best part was that I got to bond with many students whom I had never met before. We encouraged each other, we ate more chips and burgers than we care to admit together, and when we got back to Dallas and watched our football team grab a win against UNT, we somehow managed to make the day even better.

I’m sure that fall will bring more incredible Saturdays to come, but this one will be tough to beat!

-Katie Maiers