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.
Reece Iriye ’24 interviewed Taylor Enslin ’22 about why she chose SMU, her job at L3Harris and what would change if she could do her undergrad over again.
Reece: Why did you apply to the Tower Scholars Program in the first place? And how has your involvement in the Tower Scholars Program supplemented your learning that you’ve experienced during your time at SMU?
Taylor: So, I actually came to SMU for the Tower Scholars Program. I heard about it on one of my tours, so I always knew I was going to apply to be a Tower Scholar. I wanted to join this prestigious program, because I heard about the great practical experience it provides you. I thought that this program would be valuable to my education, especially because I want to work in the field of public policy. My involvement in the Tower Scholars Program has supplemented my learning by giving me a perspective of how the world actually works in these public policy classes. In a lot of political science classes, you talk about what happened, not necessarily what was supposed to happen. You talk about theories behind people’s decision-making, but you don’t typically follow the process that should have been the path that was followed. I think that this program really provided me with the tools to be able to write policy, create policy, and understand how the policymaking process works from a very experiential perspective.
Reece: That’s great to hear! What’s been your favorite class that you’ve taken at SMU?
Taylor: I’d say my favorite class I’ve taken at SMU was not necessarily a class itself; it’s more of a program. I went on the Rome-Paris study abroad trip with the history department through the University Honors Program. I really enjoyed those classes getting to experience the city and study abroad. I know a lot of my peers didn’t get the opportunity to travel due to COVID, but that was a really great experience because I got to be immersed in the culture of these cities. I got to experience the food, the architecture, the artwork, and really understand how what I was learning fit in to the history of the city. We got to immerse ourselves in the culture of cities that are typically just read about and talked about in class.
Reece: And who’s been your favorite professor you’ve taken at SMU?
Taylor: My favorite professor at SMU—might be a controversial one—but as someone who has taken three out of four of his classes, I really have enjoyed taking Michael Lusztig’s classes. His classes focus on the theory behind politics and the ideology behind liberal democracies to dictatorships. I really liked taking his Republican Hero class. I was actually on the Dedman Undergraduate Council that approved the course since it was a new curriculum that was proposed. It was a really great experience, addressing political thinking, political figures, and types of government from a really interesting perspective. He teaches his courses founded in ancient philosophy, really learning the theories that influence governments today. It was extremely valuable, and I’m so grateful to have that background.
Reece: I know you’ve been extremely active in taking all the opportunities offered by the Tower Scholars Program, but what other organizations on campus are you involved with and affiliated with?
Taylor: During my time at SMU, I came in as a Hegi Career Leader, a Rotunda Scholar, and a member of the Hilltop Scholars Program who eventually transitioned into a member of the University Honors Program. My freshman year, I was in the Mustang band and played the piccolo. I also was on the Mock Trial team for a year as an attorney and as a witness. My sophomore year, I got really involved in Ware Commons. Here I served as an RA for two years. It was one of the best experiences of my life, as I got to welcome the new first years and help them get connected on campus. I served two years in Student Senate in a variety of roles. My freshman year, I was elected as one of the eight freshman representatives. During my sophomore year, I got promoted from
being a Dedman Center to being appointed onto the Executive board as the Student Senate Parliamentarian. Throughout my time in Senate, I worked a lot with the Facilities board and worked closely with Michael Molina. Specifically, I worked in tandem with the Human Rights department, advocating for the Period Project, which focused on getting feminine hygiene product dispensers in bathrooms on campus. I’m also involved in Greek life as a member of Gamma Phi Beta. My sophomore and junior years, I served as Financial Vice President, and during my junior and senior years, I have served as Chapter President. During my time on campus, I have also worked at the Hughes Trigg Student Center and was one of the founding members of the student worker team that runs the student center for post-renovations. I also am a member of the SMU Speech and Debate team and serve as the Financial Vice President.
Taylor: I work in the aerospace and defense industry. I am employed by L3 Harris as a business development intern and will be transitioning into a business development associate after graduation. What’s fascinating about it is that I get to work with really cool technology, and I get to serve my country – something that is really important to me. I essentially bring new business into our company with a specialization in government relations. I am specifically working in the Capture Center of Excellence,
which is an internal organization that helps to develop tools to make our capture teams become more successful with winning new business. Within my role, I look at how we interact with our customers – a big customer being the U.S. Department of Defense. This role is a great way for me to incorporate my study of public policy through the Tower Scholars Program to my career and future endeavors.
Reece: This is all really great to hear! I have one more question for you. If you were to travel back in time four years ago to the beginning of your freshman year, what would you have changed and why?
Taylor: I would have definitely advised myself to prioritize my involvement. I was so involved on campus my freshman year I got really overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong I loved every minute of it, but if I could go back and do it again, I would pick three organizations to be passionate about and dedicate my time to. To incoming freshman, it is easy to say yes to all of the opportunities SMU provides. Say yes at the beginning, try new things, get out of your comfort zone, and meet new people, but also focus on making sure that you have time to enjoy your four years on the hilltop.
Reece: Thank you so much for your time! It’s been really fantastic to hear from you and everything that you’ve done taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the Tower Scholars Program and from SMU as a whole! I wish you luck in all your future endeavors!