Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship Student Academic Engagement & Success

Big iDeas Spotlight: Ryder McNeal

The invitation for Ryder McNeal ‘24, to dream big was prompted four years ago by a simple yard sign on Dallas Lawn for the Big iDeas Pitch Competition. This moment clearly made an impression, too, because McNeal, stayed intrigued about Big iDeas throughout his journey at SMU.  However, it wasn’t until the fall of his senior year that McNeal decided to pitch an idea at the intersection of film, marketing, business and entrepreneurship.  And a good idea it was, for his company, PREVO, was the top winner of the Big iDeas Business Plan Competition this past February!   

PREVO, McNeal’s exciting new company, is a streaming platform dedicated to showing a curated catalogue of independent or student-made films, from film-makers across the country. After Big iDeas awarded prize money to McNeal, he dove deeper into his business through the Big iDeas E-Launch.  

E-Launch is a robust training series powered by the Office of Engaged Learning that offers workshops and guest speakers to develop student businesses. This past year it was led by Entrepreneurship Fellow Michael Kelly (Founder, Resolute Future) and the Big iDeas team. McNeal said that E-Launch was “truly the catalyst in helping him flesh out {his} ideas and gain the feedback that was needed in order for PREVO to be successful.”  

Since the pitch competition last fall, PREVO has found collaborations across SMU’s campus. Roseanne Hart, an adjunct professor in both the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, and the Division of Journalism’s Fashion Media program, asked McNeal if PREVO could be the focal point a public relations class this Spring. Hart’s PR students are tasked with creating a launch and marketing plan for PREVO and will present their plans to McNeal at the end of the semester. “I’m really excited that PREVO could be used for students in an academic space, but also that I can be encouraged by the launch plans they come up with. Hopefully, it can really help frame how I launch PREVO this summer,” said McNeal. 

PREVO is set to fully launch in mid-July of 2024, on the date of McNeal’s birthday. As McNeal is concluding his final semester on the Hilltop, he has shifted many of his larger efforts towards the marketing for PREVO. He is reaching out to film faculty members and film festivals across the country, hoping to generate excitement within film schools and cities that celebrate independent films regularly. In addition to marketing, McNeal is working on getting a student ambassador for PREVO. 

For a while, independent films were all that McNeal could take on with the resources that he had, but creating PREVO has deepened his appreciation for small-scale films as a whole. 

All of these efforts “were made possible to me through receiving Big iDeas funding. The financial support helped be build out the steps I needed to take to be prepared to launch this summer and I am extremely grateful,” said McNeal. And for the student who may need some encouragement for starting their business or sees a simple yard sign on Dallas Lawn, McNeal says, “get involved with the things you love! Get involved as much as you possibly can because there are so many ways to do a lot with a little, especially while you’re in college.” 

Office of General Education Student Academic Engagement & Success

Brittaney Wilson transitions to the Office of General Education full time

Effective April 17, Brittaney Wilson will transition to full-time at the Office of General Education as the inaugural General Education and Academic Appeals Coordinator.

Brittaney Wilson

Since October 2022, Brittaney has served in a joint Undergraduate Degree Counselor position between the Office of General Education and Meadows Student Academic Services. In this role, Brittaney provided:

  • academic advisement for declared majors,
  • aided in adopting the new Degree Planner tool in my.SMU, and
  • launched new student outreach related to general education to Meadows students.

In her new role as General Education and Academic Appeals Coordinator, she will:

  • support the Council on Academic Petitions (CAP),
  • aid in the development and compliance of Common Curriculum pre-approved programs and organizations,
  • Provide data analysis and marketing to encourage student progress through Common Curriculum requirements, and
  • to develop inter-office agreements and audits for the Office of General Education.

Wilson shared, “Though my time in Meadows Academic Services has been short, I have enjoyed supporting students and working with such a knowledgeable team. My new position offers the opportunity to provide support in a different way.  I look forward to increasing my knowledge of university processes, and continued growth on the Hilltop.”

The Office of General Education and the Meadows School of the Arts are grateful for the collaboration to successfully implement this shared Undergraduate Degree Counselor position pilot program. Due to increased demands on both offices, full-time staff was required. The Meadows Academic Services office will begin serving all Meadows graduate and performance degree students in addition to their long-standing service to the undergraduate population, which requires the addition of a full-time Meadows Degree Counselor.

Please join us in congratulating Brittaney Wilson (

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

What are SMU undergraduates researching and creating?

What are SMU undergraduate students researching and creating? Find out through these recent stories on The Office of Engaged Learning’s YouTube channel and blog.

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Office of General Education SMU in Four

New shared Undergraduate Degree Counselors start today

The Office of General Education, Lyle School of Engineering, and Meadows School of the Arts are excited to announce two new team members serving as Undergraduate Degree Counselors effective, today, October 17. 

These new shared positions will support SMU in Four and critical services offered by their respective school records/academic services teams. 

Dallas Forbes ‘16 brings to Lyle and General Education over five years of experience in STEM education within the public school system here in Dallas. She is a proud alum of SMU with a BA in Math and a BA in International Studies. Dallas brings a deep knowledge of how to support the academic success of students and has demonstrated her ability to collaborate across interdisciplinary teams to achieve strategic goals. 

When asked about what she is most excited about, Forbes shared, “I am so honored to be back on campus, this time serving as an Undergraduate Degree Counselor within Lyle. I’m beyond excited to help students take advantage of the amazing opportunities that SMU has to offer. I am most eager to help students merge and organize their career goals with their academic paths. I hope to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with class selection and planning, as well as provide students with best practices to help them succeed in their courses.” 

Brittaney Wilson brings to Meadows and General Education ten years of experience in academic and behavioral health counseling after earning her MA in Counseling and Guidance from Louisiana Tech University.  Brittaney is eager to become a member of the Meadows Academic Services and General Education team so she can engage with the Meadows students, faculty, and staff, using the many academic leadership and counseling skills she has honed in her previous school and private counseling work. 

Wilson shared, “I am delighted to continue my professional growth at SMU. The ability to support the scholars within the Meadows School of the Arts, and the sense of community the staff exudes attracted me to the position.” 

As Undergraduate Degree Counselors, they will:  

  • Serve as a degree counselor to declared majors in their respective schools, advising them on Common Curriculum requirements and major requirements needed to complete their degree;
  • Improve General Education completion rates through group workshops, student solutions, and partnering with various academic entities;
  • Partner with faculty advisors to find solutions to improve graduation rates within the school, implementation, and maintenance of four-year degree plans in the Highpoint degree planner;
  • Support SMU in Four by conducting retention and enrollment data analysis in an effort to support the academic departments within their respective school with strategic course planning.

Please join us in welcoming Dallas ( and Brittaney ( to the team!