Senior Spotlight: Daniel Covert ’23

Each year, we spotlight our NexPoint Tower Scholar Seniors. We enjoy hearing about their journey through the program and how their perspective on the importance of public 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.

Hala Arnouk ’25 interviewed Daniel Covert ’23 about his participation in the NexPoint Tower Scholars Program and his goals for the future. Daniel is double majoring in History and Political Science with minors in Public Policy and International Affairs, Arabic, Africa and Middle East Studies, and Neuroscience.

What made you want to join the Tower Scholars Program?

As a high school student, I was interested in the Tower Scholars Program because I felt like it would be a fantastic opportunity. I have wanted to be a diplomat for a long time and have always enjoyed politics, and it just seemed like the perfect way to follow these interests.

How did the Tower Scholars program impact your time at SMU?

Young Man In Front of Castle in Europe

It has done a lot in terms of enhancing my experience. It introduced me to people I would not have met in any other program at SMU. My cohort has individuals that I think are fantastic and brilliant in their own ways and who have made my time at SMU enjoyable. Beyond that, the classes offered exclusively for the Tower Scholars are all interesting. Especially the course with Professor Newton, which was great and taught me things that I would have never learned elsewhere in my coursework. The program also enabled me to get the Boeing internship, which I have also learned a lot from. I also attended many Bush Center lectures in the Engage Series through Tower invitation, which all have been enlightening. Now, I will be interning with Nexpoint, our naming sponsor. I would not have been able to participate in all these opportunities without the Tower Scholars Program.

What areas of public policy are of interest to you and why?

I’m most interested in American Diplomacy, especially state building in the Middle East. I feel like it is an area where professionals in the bureaucracy can make the most difference, especially when working with the more cooperative partners in the region like Jordan or the Kurds in Rojava, who are trying to help their people and working as a stabilizing force. I am also very interested in the China question, American strategic policy, and NATO policy. I am currently interning with Boeing in global business to develop these areas of interest further.

How did you obtain your internship and how have you benefited from the opportunity?

I initially tried to work with a much smaller defense contractor. When that fell through, Professor Newton in the Tower program offered me the option of the Boeing internship, which was so exciting. Now I work under General Steven M. Shepro, an inspiring individual with amazing accomplishments, including being an Olmsted Scholar, a three-star U.S. Air Force general, and the deputy chairman of NATO’s military committee. Now, he is the executive vice president for Global Business Development for fixed-wing defense aircraft at Boeing, so it is a huge privilege to work for him and have an opportunity to learn from him. I am getting a lot of practical experience in how the corporate aspect of the defense industry works and how essential that is to extending American interests and relationships overseas. I am also getting experience in strategy and sales for these major contracts, which are of great national and international importance.

What was your favorite memory in the Tower Scholars Program?

Young Man Looking over European Cityscape and Smiling

The best memory I have of the program is when I got to go to Paris. I was overseas and going to miss the junior year Washington, D.C. trip. So, they allowed me to fly in from Amsterdam and meet up with the seniors who were already in Paris for the conference at the Center for Advanced Studies. I got to go for three days of the conference, then I stayed after for a few more days and got to tour the city, which was incredibly fun.



You have accomplished so much being in the program. But now that you are graduating soon, what are your plans?


I’m currently applying for a Fulbright grant to return to the Netherlands to study International Crimes, Conflict, and Criminology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. After that, I hope to attend law school before entering the foreign service.