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Academic Center for Excellence Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Honors and Scholars Office of General Education Offices & Programs Rotunda Scholars SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention

Student Senate Awards First-Generation Scholarship

The First-Generation Initiative is excited to announce that on March 26th, Student Senate passed legislation, which appropriates $50,000 per year exclusively to Pell Grant, first-generation students. This first-gen scholarship will begin in Fall 2024 and last for the next nine years (Spring 2033).

A huge thanks to all of Student Senate for the unanimous vote, but a special thanks to: Alex Alarcón, Clayton Meyer, Michael Castle, and Wyatt Harms! We also want to thank the First-Generation Initiative’s former graduate/student assistants, Briana Morales and Guadalupe Roman, for their determination in continuing to push for more first-gen support.

 

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Honors and Scholars Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research President’s Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success University Honors Program

Research & Innovation Week, April 1-5

Research & Innovation Week is happening next week! As part of RIW, The Office of Engaged Learning is excited to showcase the outstanding research and projects being done by SMU undergraduates across campus.

The Undergraduate Poster Session will take place Tuesday, April 2, 2-5 p.m. in the Moody Hall Atrium.  Prizes are awarded for the Top 3 posters overall, and the best poster in each school will be recognized. You can also vote for your favorite poster during the session for the Fan Favorite award. We hope you will come by to check out their posters, hear their presentations, and support these exceptional Mustangs!

The week is filled with panels, workshops and more. Visit the Research & Innovation Week website for event details and registration links.

  • Monday, April 1: Kick-off Event and Centers & Institutes Panel, 8am-12 PM
  • Tuesday, April 2: Undergraduate Poster Session, 2-5 PM
  • Wednesday, April 3: Graduate Poster Sessions, Dedman College graduate programs at 9 AM-12 PM, All other graduate programs and postdoctoral scholars at 2-5 PM
  • Thursday, April 4: Lunch & Learn: Navigating through the Research Labyrinth, 11:30AM-12:30PM
  • Thursday, April 4: Keynote Talk: Keivan Stassun, Director of the Frist Center for Autism & Innovation and Stevenson Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Vanderbilt University, 5 PM
  • Friday, April 5: SMU Faculty Innovation Day, 8 AM – 3:45 PM
  • Friday, April 5: MFA Qualifying Exhibition: “To Feel, To Mend, To Be”, 2-5PM in the Pollock Gallery

 

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Honors and Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Testing Center

New room numbers at the University Testing Center

As part of the renovation of the Scholars’ Den in Clements Hall, room numbers for the University Testing Center (UTC) have changed.

Visitors will still access the UTC at the west end of the Clements Hall basement in suite G15, most directly using the side entrance facing Dallas Hall. Students and professors are to check in at the testing office (now renumbered to room G28) for test administrations and completed test pickup. Students will continue to be assigned to testing labs identified as “Peruna,” “Hilltop,” and “Varsity.”

Room number identification will be updated on the UTC website, the UTC portal for test registration, and in information handouts for both students and professors.

Please contact the UTC at 214-768-6064 or universitytestingcenter@smu.edu with any questions you may have.

 

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Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success University Honors Program

Interview with Paige Edwards, Engaged Learning Fellow

One year ago, Paige Edwards, a student studying Film and Human Rights, was able to travel to Hawai’i because of a scholarship awarded by the Human Rights and Honors Program where students learned about social justice issues. Paige connected to one of the bus drivers, Leina Fisher on this trip. Fisher is a Native Hawaiian woman working in the hospitality industry but who dreamed of starting her own business. Paige and her fellow students decided to help her out to make Makali’i – Fisher’s educational tour business catering to people interested in Hawaiians culture and history. This experience inspired her project Re-Imagine Paradise: The Impacts of the Illegal Annexation of Hawai’i and Tourism on Native Hawaiians. The project focuses on “how tourism is a consequence and a complicity of colonial and illegal annexation of Hawai’i.” 

A significant aspect of this project was that Paige had to collaborate with other students and professors. Last summer, Paige was in McNair Scholars Program SRI course which provided her with a good foundation to write research papers. Paige also leaned on other research students by running ideas by them to help improve her paper and she often contacted her faculty mentor Brad Klein when needing help. 

This project is not only a passion for Paige now but impacts her long-term goals of going to law school where she wants to focus on serving underrepresented communities. Her “interests in human rights and law have not only shaped [her] research, but also the kind of work [she] likes to produce.” For right now though, Paige is producing a documentary film called Kanaka Driven Tours which “focuses on the impacts of tourism on Native Hawaiians and will educate viewers on ethical traveling.” Make sure to keep an eye out for it to learn more about the tourism industry in Hawai’i and how there is so much more to it than what meets the eye! 

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Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Rotunda Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

First-Gen Feature: Caroline Madrid

First-generation college students must overcome unique obstacles to be successful in college. Every obstacle comes with a story worth hearing. First-Gen Feature is a chance for first-generation college students to showcase their stories. Caroline Madrid, a first-year student shares what being first-gen means to her.

Q: What was your motivation for pursuing college?

A: My motivation for pursuing college was simply just to make my grandpa proud, he was a very smart man and he always inspired me to pursue my dreams. My parents were also another motivation, my parents worked really hard my entire childhood to provide for me and my siblings, and being able to return the favor was really important for me.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: My career goal is to make it as a lawyer and ultimately raise a happy family. As a first-gen, I’ve watched my parents work tirelessly every day to provide for me and my family and even today, they continue to work hard so I can be here. I want to not only release this burden off their shoulders but work hard for my future family.

Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved In and how do you manage course load and other aspects of life?

A: I have two jobs and Rotunda scholars where I have monthly and weekly requirements. The best way I have found to manage my courseload is to maintain my priorities and remember what I came to SMU for. Every day here at SMU is a reminder of the life I want to provide for myself and my family, and that gives me the strength to focus on my studies.

Q: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: Considering I am in my first year, I am proud of myself of staying persistent on my academics and maintaining good discipline while managing my two jobs and social relationships.

Q: Advice for first-gen students?

A: Don’t fight your battles alone, for so long I always thought I had nobody to help me through my hardships but after coming to SMU I realized so many of the faculty care about you and your success and truly want to see you succeed.

 

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Honors and Scholars Mustang Scholars President’s Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success

Maria Izaguirre, Program Specialist for Scholars Programs

Maria Izaguirre joined the Honors and Scholars team as the Program Specialist for Scholars Programs on October 13th.

As a Program Specialist, Maria will be supporting the President’s Scholars Program and the Mustang Scholars Program.

Maria Izaguirre, a Dallas Native, earned bachelor’s degrees in Human Rights, Psychology, and Sociology from SMU. Before joining the team as a Program Specialist for Scholars Programs, Maria was the Postbaccalaureate Fellow for the SMU Human Rights Program. Maria is currently a candidate for a Master of Science in Counseling at SMU.

When not working or studying, Maria enjoys taking long walks at White Rock Lake with her dogs, spending time with her cat, attending concerts, and trying new coffee shops.

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Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Honors and Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success University Testing Center

University Testing Center closed for Fall Break

The University Testing Center will be closed on Monday, October 9th, and Tuesday, October 10th for Fall Break.

Testing will resume on Thursday, October 12th.   

Good luck on midterms, and enjoy the break!

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Honors and Scholars Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research President’s Scholars Rotunda Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success

Interview with Engaged Learning Fellow Brianna Freshwater

The education system today is quite complex, with so many different options of Advancement Placement (AP) classes, International Baccalaureate (IB), honors programs, etc. Not only are there many options but different districts around the country offer different things and some do not offer any advanced courses at all. This can be incredibly stressful to students applying to college who might be wondering if their class load is impressive enough for their top university choices. Brianna Freshwater, a junior studying sociology and anthropology with a minor in religious studies, is tackling this issue and more in her research project: In the Schools but Not the Classrooms: Advanced Placement Test-Taking in Schools Serving Predominately Students of Color.  

Brianna began her journey with Rotunda Scholars, an SMU program for first year students from underrepresented communities and the Honor Sophomore Seminar. She chose this topic because of her own experiences growing up in a rural, predominantly white school district that did not have a single AP course. Brianna wanted to know how that experience impacted her and her fellow classmates since AP classes “felt like a big deal everywhere else.”  

Through her research, Brianna discovered that it does not matter what is offered at your school, rather it matters how much students take advantage of the opportunities that are available in their schools because “schools look at you in context.” Her research goes into this further seeing how AP course taking matters and how they vary across race and socioeconomic status in urban schools. Brianna is looking specifically at DISD campuses and seeing what courses are offered, how many seats are offered, etc. She wants to understand what campuses are “performing at expected rates” by looking at PSAT scores to determine if students are prepared to take AP courses. She is also talking to faculty members about policies and how they approach the topic of higher education with their students.  

This project is doubling as Brianna’s Engaged Learning Fellowship as well as her distinction project for her sociology major. She has had research experience in the past as well with the Cooper-McElvaney Fellowship as well as McNair Scholars. All these experiences have helped her with thinking about the world in different ways. They have also helped her long-term goal of wanting to go into a PhD program and have pushed her to be unafraid to pursue research.  

Most importantly, Brianna wants this project to be able to give schools specific information about how they can make AP programs at their respective campuses more equitable. She hopes to be able to literally hand information to schools to make plans for the better. Brianna does not want research to feel like it is “stuck in universities” with little to no real-world application. By bridging the gap between academic literature and real-world application, Brianna believes in the ability to make change. 

 

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Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Rotunda Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success

Interview with 2023 Engaged Learning Starter Award Winners

Please join me to congratulate the 2023 Engaged Learning Starter Award (ELSA) Winners: Alina, Alexis, and Ryenne! The award is given to first year students who had come up with their own research projects to explore throughout the year. These three winners will be presenting their findings at the Fall Research Symposium on November 1st! Until then, let’s get to know more about each of the awardees and their projects. 

Alexis Schroeder

Alexis Schroeder is a second-year transfer student majoring in Psychology and Health and Society with a minor in Sociology. Alexis knew that she wanted to gain experience in research and through the help of SMU professor Dr. Nia Parson, she was connected to Engaged Learning to pursue her passion project: Medical Ableism: Neoliberal Stigmatization of Holistic Medicine in the Biomedical System. 

Photo of Alexis Schroder, Engaged Learning Starter Award Winner
Alexis Schroder

Alexis’s research discusses the “intersection between neoliberalism and the biomedical healthcare system and how that perpetuates systematic medical ableism.” This topic is incredibly close to Alexis’s heart as she is disabled and is very active in the disabled community on SMU’s campus. Alexis wants to advocate for “representation by the represented” and promote the voices of disabled people in academic literature. Additionally, Alexis discusses how to balance ancient medical practices with biomedicine to create a more integrative approach to healthcare. This research project also plays a larger role in Alexis’s long-term goals because she wants to go into therapy and to manage her practice in an integrative way. 

Alina Munoz

Alina Munoz is a second-year student majoring in Health and Society and minoring in Neuroscience and Spanish. Alina was introduced to the fellowship through Rotunda Scholars, an SMU program for first year students from underrepresented communities, that introduced her to the Office of Engaged Learning. Alina’s project is called Saludstria: Opening the Gates to Healthcare. 

Photo of Alina Munoz, Engaged Learning Starter Award Winner
Alina Munoz

Saludstria is an important key word for this project as it is a combination of the Spanish word for health, Salud, and Alina’s grandmother’s name Salustria. Her grandmother deals with diabetes and high cholesterol and Alina would accompany her grandmother to the doctor’s office to help translate information. It was there she saw firsthand all “the barriers that individuals have with healthcare,” especially minorities. Alina works directly with her local community at the Agape Clinic and is planning on using the data she collected from surveys from the clinic in her research on how “minorities are blocked from receiving the proper care they need.” At the Fall Symposium you can learn more about this research project and see the real impact Alina has made on her community in Dallas! 

Ryenne Reiter

Finally, we have Ryenne Reiter, a sophomore double majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with minors inNeuroscience and Law and Legal Reasoning. Her journey began with Rotunda Scholars as well. 

Photo of Ryenne Reiter, Engaged Learning Starter Award Winner
Ryenne Reiter

In October, Ryenne will be presenting her project: The Role of Gender Expectations and Stereotypes in Eating Disorders. This will be a literature review along with her own qualitative study of comments found on TikTok videos by famous fitness influencers. She chose this topic because of how social media can “teach young women and young girls to think about femininity, beauty, what it means to look feminine, and how that develops into eating disorders later on.” Her passion for this research project comes from a combination of her own experiences during high school and classes she has taken here at SMU like psychopathology with Dr. Alicia Meuret. The knowledge she gained through her classes has helped her understand her own experiences better. This inspired Ryenne to create this project because she “knew that people don’t like to talk about the hard things, but [she] feels like they need to be addressed.”   

All three of the ELSA winners have worked incredibly hard this past year to create high quality projects inspired by their own stories and passions. Keep an eye out for them and the symposium to learn more! 

 

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Hilltop Scholars Honors and Scholars

Hilltop Scholars’ “Service Showcase” creates over 1000 finished products for Community Partners

 

Students sit around a table making paracord bracelets for Operation Gratitude
Students creating Paracord Bracelets for Project Gratitude

The Hilltop Scholars Program (HSP), an honors community at SMU for students interested in service and leadership, hosted their annual Service Showcase on Monday, August 28th at 6 PM.  This year, 185 Hilltop Scholars made 500 sandwiches for Austin Street Center, 500 coloring books for Dallas Children’s Health, 100 menstrual packs for the SMU Period Project, 100 meal kits for Vogel Alcove, 50 dog toys for Operation Kindness, 50 paracord bracelets for Operation Gratitude, 40 meal bags for Meals on Wheels, 40 book recordings for Readers to Leaders, and 100 self-care kits for Genesis Women’s Shelter.

8 students can be seen standing around a table filled with boxes of food like fruit snacks, goldfish packets, crackers, and water bottles. One students facing the camera is placing goldfish in a brown lunch bag with white dots on it.
Students creating meal kits for Vogel Alcove and Meals on Wheels

While building community, students learned about the HSP culture of service and made a considerable impact on local nonprofit organizations.  Special thanks to HSP Student Workers Lilly Chapman, Gracie Doyle, and Paul Rowe, as well as all the HSP mentors and faculty, for their support in planning and implementing this important event.