Senior Spotlight: Raleigh Dewan ’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.

Nrithi Subramanian ’25 interviewed Raleigh Dewan ’23 to learn more about his time as a NexPoint Scholar.

Can you tell me why you applied for the Tower Scholars Program? What about the program complemented your passions and how have they continued to be supplemented by your participation in the program?

Something that I’ve used to guide me through college is the explore vs. exploit ratio that helps me determine what to apply to, along with Via Negativa, the concept that if you know what you want to avoid, you can avoid those things and narrow it down to what you really want to do. When it comes to Tower Scholars, specifically, I had to think about how I am a businessperson, and I have Sister Shaq, my company. The issue that I aim to tackle through Sister Shaq, human trafficking, is a complicated issue that I can’t solve myself. I knew that it’d be helpful to have a policy angle so I can know how to advocate and choose the best partners to reach the outcomes. While I started out with a single focus, through the program, I also developed different interests in ESG and international IR affairs.

You’re involved in so much around campus; how do you balance it?

 The truth is something has got to give. I am constantly busy with long hours, but the difference is I’m doing the things that I love. On the practical side, however, a lot of it comes from a great family with lots of expertise that I can go to for advice. Learning how to delegate, not being a perfectionist, and figuring out which things to delegate are all things that I’m learning. Tactically, I have many software tools that keep me organized; but regardless, there are still moments when I must sacrifice things to keep going. I understand that I may not be as far along in all these different projects as I would’ve been, had I just done one thing. But I’m not the type of person to be happy doing just one thing; it’s all of these different projects that make me happy.

If you could go back and do it all over again, what would you tell freshman Raleigh?

It is easy to look at others and think that because they’re going into this and that, they have a path in front of them. It’s easy to question if you’re doing something wrong or if you are taking the right steps, but what you realize is that you don’t have to see the entire path in front of you – you just need to be willing, to see the next step and take it. Put right in front of left, and left in front of right, and soon, you’ll look back and do some things you never even thought could be a reality. You’ll be on the Dallas Morning News front page and will have all these things happening around you that you’re shocked by. Take a breath; you have time. You have more time than you ever realize.

In your time at SMU, you’ve explored so many different programs and extracurriculars, from starting your own company, Sister Shaq, to being a writing TA. Through these experiences, what are some of the key points you’ve carried with you?

A lot of what I’ve come to understand is that you must learn to dispel the cultural conditioning and pressure to have it all figured out by 25. You learn to figure out your own explore to exploit ratio, navigating the things you want to try as you go. No one has everything figured out. You will get to your first corporate internship with people who have more experience in their pinky than you do in your entire body. They will ask you some of the most rudimentary questions and suddenly, in that moment, the imposter syndrome will leave your body. The point is nobody knows what they’re doing. Even people who look like they do, still have problems and are learning too.