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.

Averyl Hartje, ’24 interviewed Tyne Dickson, ’22 to learn more about her time as a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar and how the program supported and cultivated her interests in civil and social policy.

Averyl: I had the opportunity to talk to Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar Tyne Dickson ‘22 about her experiences during her time in the SMU Tower Scholars Program and goals for the future. Tyne is majoring in Theatre on the Theatre Studies track and Human Rights on the Public Policy track, with the TSP Public Policy and International Affairs minor. Here are the highlights of our conversation.

Averyl: As a Tower Scholar, what public policy areas are of interest to you and why?

Tyne: I am super interested in civic policy and social policy that affect the well-being of marginalized communities. That covers a wide range because there are a variety of issues that affect marginalized communities.

Averyl: What are your post-graduation plans?

Tyne: I plan to pay rent. I always tell people that is the goal! I hope to go abroad and join a community development team in Africa because I speak French. I would love to do community development there in Rwanda or South Africa. Or depending on programs, I would love to go to New York or Atlanta and work in community organizing for education, houselessness, or for political change involving the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. And of course, I want to continue doing theatre all the time, because it is everywhere and constant.

Averyl: Could you talk about being a theatre major in conjunction with public policy?

Tyne: When I first became a Tower Scholar, I expected those two worlds would be separate, as they are separate parts of the brain and career fields. However, I have learned that being an artist sets me up for a much more tremendous path as someone who is involved in social change because I am creative, innovative, intuitive, and emphatic. All of those things drive my work; I wouldn’t be where I am without being a theatre major. They are definitely two different things that influence each other a lot. I wouldn’t have started an organization and an app without both of them in conjunction.

Averyl: What is your favorite memory from the Tower Scholars program?

Tyne: We are about to go to France next semester, and I’m positive that it’s going to be the best memory of my college career! A past favorite memory is definitely our sophomore policy class with Dr. Newton, which was amazing because it strengthened my relationship with her, as the TSP focuses on interpersonal relationships. I have a slew of great relationships, one of those being with Dr. Newton because of the TSP.
Also, learning how to actually think like a decision-maker in policy was never an opportunity for me before that class. It was a discussion-based class as well, which allowed me to get to know my cohort for the first time.

Averyl: What is the most important takeaway you have gotten from the Tower Scholars Program?

Tyne: I think that a huge unique thing, and why this program is so attractive, is the ten of us in each cohort truly get to learn about how policies are constructed and implemented through different political actors. Nationally and internationally, and through current events and past events. Essentially, getting to actually learn that is a huge takeaway for me because otherwise I would have never gotten the opportunity.
Another takeaway is learning how to function in a highly status-driven world. It is a world in which not a lot of people get access to; TSP taught me how to dress and present myself.