Each year, we spotlight our Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar Seniors. We enjoy hearing about their journey through the program and how their perspective on the importance of sound policy evolved when combined with their own academic interests. This year, we asked our incoming and current scholars to interview the seniors and were delighted by the conversations captured.
Kennedy Coleman ’23 interviewed Allison Schultz ’21 to learn more about her experience as a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar and how the program convinced her to switch from pre-med to pre-law.
How did you become interested in politics and public policy?
I originally applied to SMU as a pre-med student. I was interested in international affairs and pre-med, but I was advised to start with one because the two didn’t overlap. I decided to do bio pre-med with the Towers Scholars Program included because I knew I wanted to stay in Public Policy and International Affairs in some capacity. After my sophomore year, I realized the policy classes I was taking were the ones I enjoyed the most and my previous policy internships were my most memorable work experiences. I took that as a sign to fully switch over and stay with the Tower Scholars Program.
What are your plans after graduation?
I intend to go back to Washington, DC or the East Coast to work as a policy analyst, hopefully for the government. I took the LSAT a few weeks ago and checked all the boxes in case I wanted to go to law school. I ultimately decided a couple of weeks ago to go the full-time job route first and I may circle back to law school later.
How did you decide to work full time after graduation instead of attending law school?
It was a really tough decision. There were literally days that I was flipping back and forth, so like on Monday I was sure I was going to law school and by Wednesday I said I wasn’t going to law school. Ultimately, I was forced to make a call. Law school applications were due, and jobs were sending out offers. I think at the end of the day, it was my experiences that helped me decide. The internships I had, either through the Tower Center or outside – that really convinced me to spend a couple of years working and gain a little more experience.
Can you tell me about your internships and work experiences?
Each opportunity came at the right time in my academic career. My first one was in DC which ultimately helped me decide that I wanted to go back to DC and back to that realm. That’s what convinced me to change my major and leave pre-med. My second one was remote this past summer with the District Attorney of New York and that was my first real legal experience as far as working in a law office with attorneys. I quickly realized that my career in law would be geared toward criminal law. That office makes the news and are changing the world. It was a big thing to be a part of history by having the opportunity to work with that office. Now, I work for my practicum placement through the Towers Scholars Program with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, so I’m still in criminal prosecution, just from a federal side.
How has the Towers Scholars Program helped you?
The Towers Scholars Program offers an abundance of resources at the students’ fingertips, from Olisa to Professor Newton. They are backing you 100% and connecting you to different people. They also have those tough conversations with you, especially if you don’t know where you want to go with your career, so all of that helped me. The Tower Center has offered an immense amount of support and I couldn’t stress that enough. It has been an integral part of my SMU experience and my college experience as a whole would have been much different without them.
Allison is majoring in Public Policy and Psychology with minors in public policy and international affairs, health sciences, and economics.