Senior Spotlight: Ruth Anne Emerson ’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.

Cedar Roach ’25 interviewed Ruth Anne Emerson ’23 to learn more about her time as a NexPoint Tower Scholar to understand how the program supported and cultivated her interest in becoming a consultant.

 What drew you to SMU?

I initially didn’t want to go to SMU because I’m from Dallas, and my mom and my grandmother went here. However, I was looking for a school that was small, but that would also be the right size for me to be a bigger fish in a small pond and help me grow as a leader and a student. SMU hit that for me when I was looking at all my options. I also received a scholarship that I couldn’t say no to which drew me to the school.

Other than being a Tower Scholar, what campus programs or organizations are you a part of?

I am a Hunt Leadership Scholar, which is really why I am at SMU. I was on the Board of Student Foundation and I planned Family Weekend last year. I’m on the executive board for my sorority, Chi Omega, and I’m also a Student Representative to the Board of Trustees and serve on the Student Affairs Committee.

What do you do off campus?

Off campus, I am currently interning at the Bush Center through the Tower Scholars Program. I am working in its Freedom and Democracy section and doing a lot of research for that. I also work at the Pilates Bar at the front desk as a part-time job. I’ve mostly just been focused on finding a post-graduation job this senior year.

So, what prompted you to apply to be a Tower Scholar?

Going into it, I really didn’t know why I was interested in public policy, but I’m a journalism and economics major, and I felt that it would go well with my two majors just to understand the history of policy creation in the U.S., and to learn how public policy works and how to make policy going forward. The fact that it was a team-based program of only ten people drew me to the program as well. I wanted to get those real experiences outside the classroom like the simulations that we do, the internships you get, the D.C. trip, and all of that. I feel like you can’t get that in any other program at SMU and I wanted this out-of-the-classroom learning experience. It was a way to round out my two majors so I’m really grateful that I applied and was accepted.

How has being a Tower Scholar impacted your time at SMU?

First, it introduced me to people on campus that I never would have met. Our cohort has gotten really close. What’s cool is that a lot of us are Student Representatives to the Board of Trustees so we all have grown as leaders together and have gotten to know each other out of the classroom. It has also just given me so many connections around Dallas. For recruiting for jobs, Professor Newton has just been the best in helping me formulate my post-grad plans. She’s been the biggest mentor and blessing in my time at SMU. I definitely couldn’t have done a lot of what I’ve accomplished without her. I would also say it has given me really good real-world experiences. When interviewing for jobs, a lot of the stories I have link back to the Tower Scholars program, and I don’t think a lot of those experiences would have happened without the Tower Scholars program.

Speaking of jobs, do you have any post-grad plans yet?

I do! I’ve been recruiting for consulting firms. I can’t say where it is yet, but I do have a full-time job in consulting next year.

Last question, what advice would you give to freshman Ruth Anne?

First, I would say don’t sign up for everything and really just figure out what you’re actually passionate about. For example, I didn’t know I was passionate about public policy, but joining the Tower Scholars program made me want to pursue it. That has shaped the rest of my career and time at SMU. So, I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give is not signing up for everything for the sake of your resume but doing it because you’re actually passionate about it. Also, not to take yourself too seriously. I think I was obsessed with my resume, especially during my freshman and sophomore years, and I could have chilled out a little bit.