Master of Liberal Studies

Meet Our Students

From all walks of life and occupational pursuits, from all manner of ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds, from inquisitive 20-somethings to inquiring students in their 70s, they come to SMU MLS with agendas as diverse as their backgrounds. Yet among this amazing Technicolor quilt of life experiences, a common thread emerges: the unquenchable desire to learn; the intellectual hunger to explore; and the shared expectation to experience the world beyond the familiar.

Lauren Embrey

Lauren is a Philanthropist/Activist/Producer, and devotee of theater and film. She graduated from the program in 2006. After taking a number of continuing education courses from SMU she decided to pursue her master's degree with a concentration in Humanities and Fine Arts. So moved was Lauren by Dr. Rick Halperin's Human Rights class that she made a significant gift to the university to help start the undergraduate Human Rights program at SMU. Recognizing her generous contribution, Dr. Halperin acknowledges that Lauren "helped transform the face of the university."

Jennifer Barnes

Jennifer graduated from the MLS program in 2010 with a concentration in Human Rights and Social Justice, and is now a student in the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies program. She selected the program initially because she was working as an attorney, and SMU MLS afforded her the flexibility of being able to return to an academic environment without having to leave her job. The program had a profound effect on her. Jennifer changed her life direction completely by leaving her law practice to focus on graduate studies. In addition to her advanced graduate pursuits, she continues to volunteer with numerous nonprofit organizations in the Dallas area. "In this program, I have seen the depth and breadth of careers available to those with backgrounds in liberal studies," she says. "And that has been a total inspiration."

Adam Holt

Adam is a seventh grade English teacher at Greenhill School in Dallas. He graduated from the program in 2010 with a focus in creative writing. "When a colleague suggested the SMU MLS program, I recognized what I had been looking for," Adam says. "I found a program that would broaden my knowledge base as a teacher, and along the way help me discover what I most wanted to pursue, which was creative writing."

Jonathan Norton

Jonathan enrolled in the program in 2009. He is an SMU employee and aspiring playwright, who has taken advantage of the broad assortment of courses offered in the MLS program."I was a frustrated playwright, and hoped to find other interests and jump ship," Jonathan says. "I did indeed find other interests, but oddly enough I also developed this strong desire to explore those interests in theatrical terms." Through his studies, he was able to work with MLS Adjunct Professor and South Dallas Cultural Center Director Vicki Meek to develop a play. Initial response within the Dallas community was so positive that he has been commissioned to work on a full production.

Candice Bledsoe

Candice is the Founder and Director of Poetic Diamonds and an English Instructor for Tarrant County College, Southeast Campus. She graduated from the program in 2007. Candice began her studies as a business professional seeking intellectual growth, with a focus on African American literature and Human Rights. Her academic work had such an impact that she decided to leave the corporate world to pursue a career in academia and the nonprofit sector. "My MLS degree enabled me to more directly make a difference in the lives of others," she says. "My studies helped me realize that all things are possible."