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Cultivate, A New Leadership Development Program

Cultivate is a new leadership development program for third-and fourth-year students. In this semester-long program, students meet weekly to discuss readings based on the SMU Leadership Framework. During these discussions, students gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their role as leaders in an individual, organizational, and community context. They bring their current experiences as campus leaders into the discussion as well as consider future leadership opportunities beyond graduation.

The idea for Cultivate came about during a discussion with Nick Fontela, graduate assistant for the Office of the Student Experience, where we were discussing the need for more leadership development programs on campus and a desire to be more immersed in leadership literature. After reflecting on the existing leadership program offerings, a gap in programs that serve third and fourth-year students was identified. Through a few more brainstorming conversations with students and staff, the idea of creating a leadership reading group for students was solidified.

Cultivate meets each Monday for an hour to discuss the weekly pre-assigned readings. The readings range from leadership textbooks to business journals and even some bestselling books. The selected readings are centered on leaders and leadership and connected to the SMU Leadership Framework. Through these readings and subsequent discussions, I hope students grow in their leadership identity. I also hope Cultivate fosters a community of collaboration amongst student leaders and that the ripples of this community are felt throughout the Hilltop as a force for positive change.

Meet the Cultivate Students

Written By: Meghan Perez, Assistant Director, Leadership Programs for Office of the Student Experience

Featured Stories

Tips for Students During Online Classes and Final Exams

In collaboration with Student Academic Success Programs, we are excited to provide some advice and resources for students to help students with studying and scheduling during online classes and finals:

1.  Figure out a schedule early. Over Thanksgiving and before you return to virtual courses, locate and set up a space in the house for “work”.  Find somewhere quiet during the times you will need to be logged into your computer.

2.  Make a list of times/dates of your final exams and share it with your family. If siblings and others are around, talk about how important these times are. Are there better places to take your finals – parents’ office or a library?  Think about these chunks of times and make a plan for where you’ll be.

3.  Maintain your schedule. If you normally get up to study before classes, do that while you’re home. If you always study during lunch, keep it up! Share your schedule with family so they understand.

4. Take all your course materials home! Books, notes, workbooks, returned exams/quizzes. Don’t leave anything behind that might help with your classes or finals.

5.  If you completed a Time Awareness sheet (a 24/7 worksheet), take it home and share it with your family so they know the schedule you’ll keep for the 3 remaining class days.

6. There are 3 Reading Days – plan out how you’ll utilize them in advance.

7.  There is one A-LEC workshop remaining:

Prepare for Finals: The Last Week

Wed, December 2

2:00 PM CST Zoom

Register Here

8.  Virtual tutoring (including Writing Center appointments) and academic counseling will continue through final exams.  The schedule can be found at

For more information, please visit the following websites:

Office of the Student Experience

Student Academic Success Programs


Meghan Perez: 2020 Courageous Change Leader

Photo of Meghan Perez. She is standing outside in front of trees, is smiling, and is wearing a dark blue shirt.

The Courageous Change Leader award is the highest honor bestowed on a staff member within the Division of Student Affairs. It was created to honor the individuals who have embodied the commitment statements outlined in our strategic plan and any member of the campus community is welcome to nominate a staff member. It is with great pleasure that we announce Meghan Perez, Assistant Director in the Office of the Student Experience as the recipient of this year’s award. 

Meghan received multiple nominations outlining why she is deserving of this award and it was incredible to see the common threads amongst all of the narratives. Meghan’s influence extends beyond her specific areas of responsibility to the entire division. She has repeatedly been sought after to serve on committees, task forces, search committees, and special projects. Meghan is known among her colleagues as a serious Student Affairs professional, committed to excellence and dedicated to maximizing the effectiveness of each project. She is also a ton of fun and the type of person you want to work with no matter the task. She certainly models the type of division member we need, remaining committed to personal congruence while achieving goals collaboratively and efficiently. 

Many of Meghan’s characteristics are admirable, but her commitment to developing students stands out above the rest. 

Colleagues are consistently impressed by the way she interacts with a student that stops by her office, engages a student that comes to eat lunch in the suite, or talks about students in her program. Each interaction is personal and caring—she knows specific details about what is going on in everyone’s world and uses those details to intentionally check in on students or push them to submit an internship application. Meghan easily develops meaningful relationships and students trust her personally and professionally. While students are attracted to her fun-loving nature, they also know that she is committed to their growth and does not shy away from difficult conversations intended to push them forward in their development. It is no stretch to say that Meghan actively shapes world changers in her daily work through the leadership programs she creates and oversees as well as the individual relationships she cultivates with students. 

Meghan Perez pushes division members to be better Student Affairs professionals, better friends, and better colleagues. She is committed to saying our commitment statements as loudly as possible at every division meeting (she can be heard above the crowd), and more importantly, she is committed to acting out every single one of those commitment statements. Meghan is working every day to develop world changers and innovate our work, and she is more than deserving of the 2020 Courageous Change Leader Award. 

Check out Meghan’s award presentation here!



2020 Courageous Change Leader Award Presentation

Congratulations to Meghan Perez, 2020 Courageous Change Leader

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For more information about the Division of Student Affairs at SMU, please visit