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.
Saavni Desai ’23 interviewed Lexie Watson ’21 to learn more about her experience as a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar and how the program furthered her desire to pursue a career in the public sector.
Why did you apply to the Tower Scholars Program?
Lexie is an International Studies major and decided to apply to the Tower Scholars Program because she found the closeness of the cohort and the classes very appealing. She liked the opportunity to learn from other people in the cohort, the chance of meeting people in the field on the DC trip, and the ability to delve into her interests with the senior practicum. Lexie has an interest in Asia so the focus on global policymaking and the opportunity to put the theories she learned into practice provided a window into what her real career might look like.
What is your dream job?
Working for the State Department or doing something in the public sector.
As an International Studies and Political Science major with a focus on Asia, where did you study abroad?
After her freshman year, Lexie studied Mandarin and its dialects in China. She got to visit Shanghai and Beijing, both economic, political, and cultural centers, to learn more about Chinese culture and society. After her sophomore year, she went on the Japan study abroad trip and learned about Japanese politics and culture as a part of the international realm. From these two trips, she was able to compare and contrast Asian cultures and how they approach politics and problems both domestically and internationally. She was able to apply what she learned at SMU about international relations to real-world situations in her area of focus.
What have you gained from the Tower Scholars Program?
Lexie has gained leadership skills and preparation for a career in the real world. She was able to master analytical skills, speaking, writing, and teamwork with her cohort, along with personal growth in areas like confidence. Lexie says that the mentors in the TSP are also fantastic, and she has been able to learn a lot from their practical experiences in the field that she hopes to enter. It provides a unique aspect to the educational experience to have professors teaching you about the real world from their own experiences.
Lexie Watson is majoring in International Studies and Political Science with a focus on East Asia. She also has minors in Mandarin, Ethics, and Public Policy & International Affairs with the Tower Scholars Program. She has studied abroad in China and Japan and interned for the SMU Center for Presidential History working on a project about post 9/11 US policy in South East Asia, and is currently interns at Emergent Risk International