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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Briana Morales joins the Honors and Scholars team as the new Rotunda Scholars Success Counselor. A Texas Native, first-generation college graduate, and SMU alum, Briana earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in the SMU Counseling program. Since her time as an undergraduate, Briana worked with SMU’s First-Generation Initiative and First-Generation Association as a fierce advocate for many students whose struggles she knows too well.
Briana’s experience mentoring students, coordinating student centered events, and building relationships across campus will be a welcome addition to the Rotunda family. Briana is excited to join the Rotunda support system and community as it grows in number and expands services. Her favorite part of serving students is the relief and joy on students’ faces when they see how much you care. To her, there is no greater feeling than showing someone you care about their well-being and success. We are excited for Briana to join our team and begin working June 19th.
As part of the brand migration, the SAES Marketing, Communication, and Digital Technology committee worked with unit webmasters to assist with a site content refresh (e.g., text, pictures, layouts). The committee recommended reorganizing navigation and pages based on Google Analytics data of high-traffic pages. As part of the process, broken links, spelling, SEO optimization, SMU web governance, and site navigation are also being addressed. Finally, professional headshots and employee biographies will be added over the summer.
Scheduled to migrate on or around the dates listed below will be:
University Testing Center
University Advising Center
Academic Development of Student-Athletes
Office of Student Success and Retention
Student Academic Success Programs
Office of Undergraduate National Fellowships
University Honors Program
Please pardon our dust during this transition. If you discover broken links or issues, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org to be routed appropriately. The next communication on the webpage migration will be once all SAES units have been completed.
The “M” Award is the highest recognition bestowed upon students, faculty, staff, and administrators on the SMU Campus. The recipients’ efforts have been continuous during their years at the University and are not limited to a narrow vested interest. The “M” Award honorees inspire others, giving unselfishly of their time and talents to make the University, and indeed the world, a better place.
Please join us in congratulating our stellar SEAS and SMU colleagues!