Student Academic Engagement & Success

Headshots session for SAES staff

Greetings SAES staff,
The Marketing, Communications and Digital Technology Committee is excited to offer a session for professional headshots for all SAES full-time staff!
Last year, to create consistency on SAES staff bio pages, we began taking new headshots. Our division’s style are outdoor photos on SMU campus.
Headshots will be offered next Wednesday, May 29 from 9-11 a.m. with photographer Hillsman Jackson. Staff who started fall 2023 or later should sign up for a spot. Continuing staff who would like a new photo may also sign up.
Hillsman will meet us on the Fondren Library side of Dallas Hall lawn. Please remember to wear business casual attire, with SMU colors preferred. If you have specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Adam Neal (
In the case of inclement weather, headshots will be moved to an indoor location, and you will be notified of the change 24 hours in advance.
Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies Student Academic Engagement & Success University Advising Center University Testing Center

Expanded CLEP Testing now available at the University Testing Center

The University Testing Center is pleased to offer expanded CLEP (College Level Examination Program) testing beginning June 2024.

Testing is available by appointment to any SMU student or community member seeking academic credit. At SMU, course credit is awarded when a score of 60 points or above out of 80 possible points is achieved. Community members may also test at SMU and send scores to other colleges and universities for credit.

SMU gives credit for CLEP subject examinations based on the specified minimum scores below*.  American Government, Financial Accounting and History of the U.S. I and II are only available to incoming students under the 2024-2025 Undergraduate Catalog and are not available to continuing students.


Score (out of 80)

Credit Hours

Course(s) Credited

Common Curriculum Requirements Satisfied

American Government



Generic Credit – TBD Social & Behavioral Science (SBS)
American Literature



ENGL 20XX None
English Literature



ENGL 20YY None
Financial Accounting



Generic Credit – TBD Quantitative Applications (QA)
History of the US I



Generic Credit – TBD Historical Contexts (HC)
History of the US II



Generic Credit – TBD Historical Contexts (HC)



ECO 1312 Quantitative Applications (QA)



ECO 1311 Quantitative Applications (QA)

*The above credit table is subject to change and applies to the 2024 Undergraduate Catalog.


  • All tests are administered on campus, in person.  Remote CLEP administrations are not conducted at the UTC.
  • Students must register and pay for a CLEP test on the College Board website, indicating SMU as the testing site and score recipient.
  • Testing seats are reserved using the UTC Portal.  The CLEP test administration fee charged by the testing center is waived for current SMU students, with a modest charge for community members.
  • Students must bring their College Board CLEP Registration Form and SMU ID card to their testing appointment at the UTC.

After Testing

When testing is complete, students will receive a preliminary score report from UTC staff.  Scores will also be available in the My CLEP Student Account portal on the CLEP website.  Final, official CLEP score reports will be sent directly from the College Board to the SMU Registrar, where course credit will be awarded with a qualifying score.

For more information, visit the University Testing Center or the College Board FAQs for CLEP.

Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Thank you ADSA Tutors!

The Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA) wants to take a moment to express our sincere gratitude to the incredible team of ADSA tutors, this academic year (2023-2024). These dedicated individuals go above and beyond, offering their free time to help SMU student-athletes succeed, and their hard work and passion to help truly make a difference. 

Supportive and Knowledgeable 

Our ADSA tutors aren’t just there to explain concepts. They take the time to understand each student’s unique individual needs and learning styles. They provide a supportive and encouraging environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes. Their deep understanding of the subjects they tutor, allows them to break down complex topics into manageable pieces, making learning more accessible and engaging for our athletes. 

Dedication that Shines Through 

The dedication of ADSA tutors is truly inspiring. They devote countless hours to helping students, on top of their own personal responsibilities, like classes, work, or clubs. They are always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that students grasp the material and feel confident in their abilities. This dedication is evident in the positive feedback student-athletes consistently share about their tutoring experiences. 

Making a Lasting Impact 

The impact of ADSA tutors extends far beyond grades and test scores. They help students develop important study skills, critical thinking abilities, and a love of learning. These skills will benefit students not only in their academic careers but also throughout their lives, and the competition field. Our Tutors enforce SMU ‘s mission of becoming “World Changers Shaped Here”.  

Endless Thanks

To all the ADSA tutors, we extend our appreciation to you, especially our seniors that are graduating this semester! Your hard work, dedication, and passion for helping students succeed are truly appreciated. You are an invaluable asset to our SMU community, and you make a real difference in the lives of our athletes!  

Graduating ADSA Tutors- Congratulations to you and this accomplishment that you’ve worked hard for! We wish you the best in all your future endeavors!  

  • David Helsley– B.A. in Philosophy 
  • Erica Yurvati – BBA in Accounting  
  • Isis Kazadi – B.A. in Human Rights, with Public Policy Track & Political Science 
  • Sarah Mende – B.A. in Anthropology & History 
  • Tia Taylor – B.S. in Biological Sciences and Health & Society, Minor in Spanish 
  • Victoria Romanczyk—B.S. in Educational Studies with a focus on 7-12 

#ADSATutors #ThankYou #MakingADifference #ShapingWorldChangersHere 

Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Student Academic Engagement & Success

4 New Mustang Champions Announced for April

April brings another round of Mustang Champions to celebrate! Let’s learn more about our Champions this month: Preston Stone, Nyah Rose, Prather Anne Hargrove, and Jack Hoagland.

Preston Stone (FB)

Preston’s leadership extends beyond the football field. He’s emerged as a powerful voice on the SAAC executive committee, proactively tackling challenges and streamlining processes to lighten the load for fellow executives. His influence doesn’t stop there – he fosters a culture of engagement, actively motivating his teammates to become more involved with campus life and connect with the student-athlete community.

Nyah Rose (WSOC)

Nyah is in her second semester of her Freshman year and has demonstrated significant progress in her organizational skills and time management. She has really taken this semester to develop good study habits, and it is evident in the classroom. You can see the joy Nyah has in becoming a better student and athlete! Kelsey Smith (her academic counselor) had this to add; “I have loved every moment of getting to know Nyah and watching her excel in the classroom and on the field. She is a joy to work with and always bring positive energy when I see her!”

Prather Anne Hargrove (WSW)

Prather has been a consistent presence within SAAC; always looking for ways in which she can help or get involved in SMU or the community. A recent receipt of the Extra Yard for Teachers Dr. Pepper Go Teach Award; in which she earned 12,500 in scholarship money. Prather Anne is studying Educational Studies and Psychology and will graduate in Spring 2024. “I am so blessed to have received this award and scholarship,” Hargrove said. “I look forward to serving children with special needs and their families upon my graduation.”

Jack Hoagland (MSW)

Jack is striving to make efforts in the community service space. His desire to serve and encourage others to serve is commendable. His interests in SAAC and being a leader in this area has been great to see this semester. Katie Evans, Jack’s Senior Academic Counselor had this to say about Jack “He is a shining example of what it means to be a student-athlete! He excels athletically and academically at the highest level. He is a true leader and role model for his teammates and all student-athletes.”

These SMU student-athletes are shining examples of how dedication, passion, and a drive to excel can extend far beyond the playing field or pool. They are leaving their mark on the world by inspiring us all to dream big, pursue our goals with purpose, and strive to make a positive impact in our own communities. Let’s celebrate these young world-shapers, and stay tuned to see what incredible things they accomplish next!

Office of General Education Peer Academic Leaders Student Academic Engagement & Success

Peer Academic Leaders wrap up their first year of General Education programming

This year, the Office of General Education relaunched the Peer Academic Leaders (PALs) program during the 2024 Academic Year.

The PALs are a diverse group of undergraduate students who aim to help their peers better understand the Common Curriculum, utilize academic resources, and navigate academic challenges. They are also inserted into the Residential Commons (RCs) and facilitate monthly programming meant to build a sense of community in the RC.

The PALs had a very successful first year with many highlights, such as:

The Office of General Education is proud of the PALs’ success this year and looks forward to seeing their continued impact in the 24-25 academic year.

Students, staff, and faculty can stay up to date with the PALs events and programming on SMU 360 and the PALs website.


Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Student Academic Engagement & Success

Prather Anne Hargrove wins Extra Yard for Teachers Dr. Pepper Go Teach Award

Prather Anne Hargrove, a senior member of the SMU Women’s Swimming and Diving team, received the prestigious award for the Extra Yard for Teachers Tuition Giveaway given by the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Prather Anne is the first recipient of SMU to receive this award. She brought in the grand prize of a scholarship worth $12,500.  The first $2,500 was earned from SMU’s nomination and the additional $10,000 comes as a as a result of being chosen as the AAC’s overall winner. 

The College Football Playoff Foundation and Dr. Pepper Award Tuition Assistance is given to deserving education majors. Over 260 student-athletes across the country have received tuition support through the program since its founding in 2020.  

Prather Anne is studying Educational Studies and Psychology at SMU and will graduate in Spring 2024. “I am so blessed to have received this award and scholarship,” Hargrove said. “I look forward to serving children with special needs and their families upon my graduation.”

Dr. Emily Cobb, one of Prather Anne’s nominees for this award, had this to say, ““(Prather’s) tenacity and eagerness to learn, and teach others, is why she would make a natural educator”. 

Katie Evans, her academic counselor, at the Academic Development of Student-Athletes (ADSA) stated, “Prather Anne is an inspiration! Her dedication to academics and her passion for education make her a true role model for young students and athletes everywhere.” 

To learn more about the Dr. Pepper Scholarship and how to apply; please visit their site:

Academic Skill Development Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Becca Umobong, Director of Academic Skill Development, Receives “M” Award

Student Academic Success Programs would like to send a huge “congratulations” to Becca Umobong, our Director of Academic Skill Development, for receiving the “M” Award this year at the Hilltop Excellence Awards ceremony on Friday, April 19.

“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 are an inspiration to others, giving unselfishly of their time and talents in order to make the University, and indeed the world, a better place.”

We know this to be true. Anyone who works with Becca can see her heart for serving students, and we are so proud of Becca for the work she’s accomplished (and we are thrilled to see her recognized for it).

Thank you for all you do, Becca, for students and us.


Everyone, please join us in congratulating Becca!



Academic Devleopment of Student-Athletes (ADSA) Student Academic Engagement & Success

8 Student-Athletes Honored During SMU Honors Convocation

On Friday, April 19, 2024, SMU honored their undergraduate students in the annual Honors Convocation Ceremony. This year’s ceremony marked the 27th celebration of SMU’s outstanding students whose intelligence, dedication, and hard work contribute greatly to the life of the University. Out of 538 SMU Students honored at this event, 8 student-athletes were selected for various awards this year. To view the full list of Award Recipients, click here .

Soderquist Macie Soderquist is a Senior on the Equestrian team and received the University Honors Program Award. Macie is majoring in General Business and has a GPA of 3.861. Learn more about the UHP here.


Abigail (Abby) Dermott of the SMU Women’s Soccer Team, earned the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Biochemistry award. As a senior, she participated in the University Honors Program and is studying in the Natural Sciences Program. She is majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Ethics and Neuroscience with a cumulative GPA of 3.991.  

Isabella Dickinson is a Senior on our Women’s Swim & Dive team. Originally from California, she was recognized for her work in the University Honors Program for her business courses. Isabella is majoring in Finance with a specialization in Real Estate. Additionally, she has a minor in History with an impressive overall GPA of 3.94. 

Maddy Lewis, also a senior on our Women’s Swim and Dive team, obtained this accolade from the University Honors Program. She is majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Art with a 3.571 GPA. 

Maxine Parkinson, of SMU’S Women’s Swim & Dive team, earned two various awards from the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. First, she was acknowledged for Outstanding Senior Student, and also awarded the Hamilton Undergraduate Research Scholar. Learn more about the requirements of these candidates here. She is majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Computer Science and Neuroscience. She has a cumulative GPA of 3.931 

J.Crowley Jessamine Crowley is a Senior distance runner on the Track & Field, Cross Country team.  She is triple majoring in Economics, Philosophy and Statistical Sciences with an overall 3.839 GPA. She received the Phi Beta Kappa award from Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.  

Kailyn Gearin, a senior from Oregon, who is on the SMU Track & Field, Cross Country team (TFCC) brought home two awards last Friday. The first award, Applied Physiology and Health Management Departmental Distinction Award from the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and the second from the University Honors Program. Gearin is majoring in Applied Physiology and Sport Management (Health Management) and minoring in Biological Sciences with a GPA of 3.639.

Mia Olsen, a Track & Field, Cross Country senior, who is double majoring in Biochemistry and Health and Society; with a minor in Biomedical Anthropology and Psychology. Her cumulative GPA is 4.0 and she was recognized for 2 separate awards: Phi Beta Kappa and the Outstanding Senior Student in Health and Society from the Anthropology Department. 

Congratulations to these 8 student-athletes who are well on their way to becoming World Changers!

Watch the full ceremony video here: 


Academic Center for Excellence Academic Skill Development Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

Assistive technology helps all students – Part 2

Assistive technology can enhance the academic life of neurodivergent and neurotypical students alike. In part 1, we touched on text-to-speech software and browser extensions that make Canvas easier to use. If you missed it, check it out! Here in part 2, we’ll take a look at mindfulness software and AI.

Recent, long-term scientific studies suggest that mindfulness leads to academic success not just for students with ADHD, but all students. Just 20 minutes of daily meditation or meditative prayer can decrease rumination, emotional volatility, and anxiety, and increase memory, focus, and cognitive flexibility. For more information, check out apps like Headspace, Smiling Mind, and the Apple Mindfulness App.

Researchers are also identifying how ChatGPT and other AI tools can assist students with disabilities, such as exploring research topics, brainstorming self-advocacy conversation starters, and providing activity ideas for self-care. Some uses of AI are not useful for learning, however: having AI write even part an assignment is plagiarism; overreliance on AI leads to decreased comprehension due to a lack of engagement with course material; and information provided by AI may not be factually based or able to be sourced. Regardless, students should always consult with their instructors before using AI in a class.

Assistive technology helps to create an inclusive environment where students of all kinds, not just those with disabilities, can participate and engage. For more information, contact Disability Accommodations and Success Strategies (DASS) at or 214-768-1470.

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

NCUR 2024: Let’s Hear from the Participants!

Congrats to (L-R in group picture) Anish Senthilkumar, Karen Lin, Elisabeth Hood, Anna Su, Sadikshya Sitaula, Kevin Nguyen, Jonathan Thomas, Vivian Thai on presenting at NCUR 2024!

These eight SMU students had the incredible opportunity to present their research and creative work at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research 2024. They traveled to California State University, where they were able to interact with students and faculty from universities across the country for an exciting conference.

Here is more from a few of the students about their thoughts on the experience:

Preparing for the Conference:

Ellie Hood ’24: The best way I found to prepare for the conference was to attend the Undergraduate Poster Session! Being able to practice poster presentations on a smaller scale gave me confidence in myself and my research going into a much bigger poster session like NCUR!

Kevin Nguyen ’24: I prepared for the conference by making my poster. I made it early because I had the American Chemical Society conference a few weeks before. Thus, I had enough practice presenting my poster after that initial conference.

Vivian Thai ’25: I have been working on my project for almost 2 years prior to the conference, but to prepare specifically for NCUR, I scheduled a meeting with my PI and went over the data that I wanted to present. After that, I submitted an abstract and continued collecting leftover data until I was ready to make my poster. I had several meetings with my professor to draft my poster and I also presented at SMU’s Research & Innovation Week to prepare.

The NCUR Experience:

Ellie: To put it simply, NCUR was an intellectual feast. Not only was it fun and encouraging to share my own research, I also had the best time hearing about everyone else’s research! Every single poster and presentation that I came across was so interesting, and it’s so inspiring to me that so many undergraduates are dedicated to academia.

Kevin: My experience with the conference was incredibly rewarding. I only presented on one day, but for the other days, I went to see other SMU students’ presentations. Even then, I visited fellow chemistry undergraduates and saw their work. When I had time, I enjoyed the beach, hung out with friends, and relaxed in the hotel.

Vivian: My experience at the conference was amazing! I had the opportunity to do a poster presentation, but attendees were also able to watch other poster presentations and oral presentations. One of my favorite things about NCUR is that it’s a huge conference, so there is a large variety of topics. I listened to presentations with focuses ranging from Formula One to programming robots in agriculture. In addition, there was plenty of free time to explore the city. NCUR 2024 was hosted in Long Beach, CA and it was so much fun exploring the area and going to the beach.

Advice for Future NCUR Presenters:

Ellie: For future NCUR presenters, I say have fun with it! Don’t get in your head about whether or not your research is good enough to be at NCUR. If you’re at NCUR, you have something great to offer! Take time to see as many posters and presentations as you can, spend time with the other SMU presenters, and really soak it all in. Also, there are lots of grad schools tabling at NCUR. If you’re unsure about your post-grad plans but know that you want to pursue graduate education, definitely take the time to talk to the schools!

Kevin: For future presenters of NCUR, I recommend “selling” your presentations well. For poster presentations specifically, eye-catching titles and enthusiastic demeanors help to grab people’s attention and allow you to network with them. Also, please take some time to see other people’s work, as they could enlighten you on where you might go next in your research!

Vivian: Try to start your presentation in advance in case anything comes up. If you’re doing a poster, practice your spiel in the days leading up so you feel confident on the day of your presentation. Also, NCUR is a great opportunity for students who have never presented their research before. The environment is very welcoming and everyone is eager to hear about your research, so don’t stress too much about it!