As I reflected on my first years out of graduate school with an M.M. in Piano Pedagogy and Performance from SMU, I wanted to leave some of the tidbits of wisdom I wish were given more importance in my academic career. Thriving as an artist is possible if you have the right mindset, expectations and goals. A degree is simply a piece of paper. It’s the experience, the challenges of the journey and the people you meet along the way that really lead you to your success.
Some of my most meaningful relationships came out of SMU and I am forever thankful for my time as a Mustang.
For some busy students, finding time for meaningful community engagement is hard.
But for others, it’s second nature – par for the course in getting the best education possible before venturing into the professional world. And it’s just the beginning for Angie Reisch, who knows the importance of community involvement – it’s obvious in her work outside of the classroom. The studio art major and Dallas native graduates this spring, but not before turning her attention to some of the most important and timely cultural events taking place in the city.
2017’s Homecoming began with the Distinguished Alumni Awards, a prelude to a weekend packed with activities. SMU Mustangs chose from among a range of concerts and performances, as well as special exhibitions at SMU’s museums and libraries. We also celebrated 100 years of Mustang spirit and Mustang jazz with the Mustang Band at the Pigskin Revue. The Meadows parade began a couple of hours before kickoff, where Dean Sam Holland led the parade down Boulevard–and we eat copious barbecued meats from Sonny Bryan’s–all leading up to the Mustang football team’s game against the UCF Knights.
Photographer Kim Leeson was on the scene to capture photos.
Brittany Merrill Underwood’s life changed – completely, thoroughly, astonishingly–the summer she was 19, an age that now seems head-shakingly young. “I was the most selfish, spoiled SMU sorority girl,” she says on a recent March afternoon, sitting outside Akola, the store in Snider Plaza that fulfills a dream she didn’t know she had. “I was going to parties and trying to show up in class. My heart was empty; now it’s full.”
A dozen years later, she’s long ago lost count of the times she’s crisscrossed the globe. And how could she possibly number the lives of women she’s touched and changed for the better? Yahoo named her “Person of the Year” in 2014; during those same 12 months, she was asked to join the elite mentoring class for the Laura Bush Women’s Initiative. Clothing manufacturer Levi Strausshonored her as one of 50 women internationally who have changed the political, cultural and spiritual shape of the future. She’s made appearances on Katie Couric’s show as well as on CNN’s Young People Who Rock. She received SMU’s Emerging Leader Award, the Dallas Women’s Foundation Young Leader Award and was a finalist for the 2016 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award from the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. Most recently, she received a $75,000 United Way award in Dallas.