Tower Center Students


Empowering students to lead and serve is a top priority of the Tower Center, which serves as a crucial resource for undergraduate students across all majors and schools.

The Center draws on the Knowledge of professors, practitioners and scholars from variety of fields, enabling students to explore politics and policy from an interdisciplinary perspective. The Tower Center offers students numerous opportunities to gain valuable out-of-classroom experience through the Student Forum, John G. Tower Center Student Fellowships and the Tower Scholars in Public Policy Minor.

Tower Center Student ForumThe Tower Center invites you to join leading political minds, share ideas with those influencing public policy today, and contribute to on-going debates. 

Membership in the Tower Center Student Forum gives you the opportunity to be on the forefront of the pressing issues of the 21st century with invitations to compelling conferences, lectures, briefings, and other events with the trendsetters shaping our world. Tower Center Student Forum members have the opportunity to publish op-eds and commentary on current events, and even submit papers to our undergraduate student journal Dialogue.

Emphasizing elevated thinking and informed discussion between individuals from diverse fields of study, the Tower Center and its Student Forum enable undergraduates to contribute an innovative voice to national and global discourses.

Join the Student Forum, attend Tower Center events, and become part of an influential network with exclusive opportunities for private briefings by today’s power brokers, policy makers, and experts from every sector. Recent speakers include Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, John McCain, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Colin Powell, and George W. Bush.

The Tower Center and its Student Forum offer prestigious scholarships and fellowships, along with positions in research and writing for undergraduates. If you are interested in learning about more possibilities, please contact us, and open the door to A World of Insight.

For membership in the Tower Center Student Forum, or for all other inquiries, please contact or reach out to our current Executive Director, Matthew C. Reitz (

Policy Committees & Leadership

Join a think tank for a semester: approach a global or local issue, collaborate with scholars and experts, and work towards a solution with the support of the Tower Center. The multi-disciplinary approach of the Policy Committees enables students to produce practical solutions to complex questions—career experience for the policy makers of the future. By blending perspectives and working in conjunction with experts from the field, students can produce research worthy of publication, and perhaps even ideas decision-makers have yet to consider.

Executive Officers

Executive Director: Matthew C. Reitz

Dialogue Editor-in-Chief: Jamie Shim

Director of Marketing: Thomas Schmedding

Open Positions


Copy Editor 

Layout Editor

Policy Chairs & Writing Positions

Asia-Pacific Studies Chair

National Security Studies Chair

US-Mexico Studies Chair

Contributing Editor


Students interested in a policy-area not listed in the three chair positions above may propose their own policy-chair position and a corresponding research topic for op-eds, commentary and papers that they intend to pursue. Policy chair positions are open to all SMU majors with an interest in policy. Past contributors to the Dialogue journal have included political science, public policy, economics, international studies, journalism, history, english, and business majors. 


The Contributing Editor position is open to all SMU students interested in contributing op-eds and commentary to our monthly newsletter.

John G. Tower Center Student Fellowships provide a gateway for students to pursue work in politics and government. Undergraduate Fellows collaborate closely with faculty to develop research projects that either become published or presented for faculty or professional review.

The John Goodwin Tower Center Undergraduate Research Fellowships

The John G. Tower Center offers a limited number of research fellowships to SMU undergraduate students to pursue collaborative work in politics and government. The Undergraduate Fellows work closely with faculty in developing a research project resulting in a publication or final paper presented at a professional meeting or before a faculty committee. The Tower Center's Undergraduate Fellows are accepted during the second semester of their sophomore year and serve as fellows during their junior and senior years. Selection is based on merit and determined by an application and interview process emphasizing ability and interest in research. Each fellow receives a stipend of $750 per semester for a maximum of four consecutive semesters, a book allowance for documents related to the independent study project, support for research expenses approved by the Director of the Center and support for travel to appropriate academic conference(s) for presentation of their research.

There are four fellowships and each fellow is designated by the name of the donor of his fellowship:

Edwin L. Cox Fellowship Award

Al G. Hill, Jr. Fellowship Award

Tom Bryant Medders, Jr. Fellowship Award

Henry S. Miller Fellowship Award

The current Undergraduate Tower Fellows are:

  • Matthew Reitz (The Edwin L. Cox Fellow)
    Matthew is a Political Science and Finance major from Colleyville, Texas. For the Edwin L. Cox Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Matthew is researching the debate surrounding potential reform of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the public's perceptions of their role. Since Article 9 of Japan's constitution forbids the creation of a formal military, the Self-Defense Forces have been a source of controversy and intense debate for decades. The Self-Defense Forces popularity boomed after their humanitarian efforts following the 3/11 tsunami and earthquake. However, the Japanese people are  wary of reforming the SDF into a formal military despite increasing security concerns regarding China. This project aims to investigate the perceptions of the Self-Defense Forces by the Japanese public and identify if there are elements of reform the public would approve of. Understanding whether Abe's government can find common ground with the public at large or be forced to fight an uphill battle against negative perceptions will be crucial to understanding the future of reform for the SDF and the nature of Japan's defense institutions.

  • Tracey Nelson (Henry S. Miller Fellow)


The Jack C. and Annette K. Vaughn Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship

Every academic year, the John G. Tower Center offer one Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship which will allow a highly qualified SMU sophomore or junior student to have the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of American foreign affairs. The selection process is based on merit and determined by an application and interview process. Additionally, students applying for the State Department Intern Program must meet the eligibility requirement of this program, which includes a background investigation necessary to obtain security clearance. Students selected by the Tower Center but not chosen by the State Department Intern Program will be placed in another international affairs center, government agency, or think tank in Washington, DC.

  • Kaitlyn Montan, 2016 Vaugh Intern
  • Brandon Roselius, 2015 Vaughn Intern
  • Nayelly Dominguez, 2014 Vaughn Intern
  • Julien Teel, 2013 Vaughn Intern
  • Rahfin Faruk, 2013 Vaughn Intern


The Hatton Sumners Foundation Scholarships

The Tower Center also oversees and manages the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation Scholarships for undergraduates at SMU. The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation supports programs and activities that foster an increased understanding of civic and personal responsibility, and active participation by citizens in all levels of government. The scholarship selection committee evaluates applicants on their academic record, leadership abilities, participation in community and civic affairs, and potential for future leadership. The Hatton W. Sumners Foundation scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis. Hatton W. Sumners Scholars receive $2500 per semester for four consecutive semesters (junior and senior years); in addition they will have opportunities to participate in programs supported by the Foundation that will enhance the quality of the academic experience. Hatton W. Sumners Scholars will also be invited to exclusive programs sponsored by the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies.

The 2017-2019 Hatton Sumners Scholars are:

  • Will Church
  • Greg Guggenmos

The 2016-2018 Hatton Sumners Scholars are:

  • Diana Cates
  • Joseph Martin

The 2015-2017 Hatton Sumners Scholars are:

  • Kayla Goldberg
  • Lindsay Grossman
  • Terisha Kolencherry



The Kelli and Gerald J. Ford Scholarship

The Kelli and Gerald J. Ford Scholarship is awarded to highly qualified SMU undergraduates with a strong interest in international affairs. Applicants must have completed a minimum of 60 hours of coursework and have a minimum GPA of 3.3. The selection will emphasize ability and interest in research in international affairs. Merit will be determined through the application and interview processes. The amount of the award will be $5000 for the academic year. The recipient will be expected to commit approximately five to ten hours per week to the project over the course of the academic year. Additionally, scholarship winners will spend the academic year researching and writing a paper worthy of public presentation.

The 2015-2016 Kelli and Gerald J. Ford Scholar is:

  • Stefanie Lohse



Rubottom Foreign Service Scholarship

The Rubottom Foreign Service Scholarship is awarded to highly qualified undergraduates majoring in Political Science, History, International Studies, Economics or World Languages at Southern Methodist University. Applicants must have completed 60 hours of coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.3. In addition to committing to a minimum of 3 years of foreign language study, the scholarship recipient, under the direction of a faculty member, will enroll in a directed readings course and produce a significant research paper suitable for public presentation during the spring semester. The objective of this scholarship is to strongly encourage students to consider careers in the U.S. Foreign Service and in international affairs, so the paper should reflect a subject or issue congruent with this objective. The recipient will be awarded a scholarship in the amount of $5000, which will be distributed in two $2500 installments at the beginning of fall/spring terms.

The 2016-2017 Rubottom Foreign Service Scholar is:

  • Ryan Cross

The 2015-2016 Rubottom Foreign Service Scholar is:

  • Thomas Schmedding
    Thomas is a Financial Consulting and International Development major from Apex, North Carolina. As a recipient of the Rubottom Scholarship, Thomas plans to study the impact of Chinese neocolonialism on microeconomic development in Ugandan communities. He will spend the Spring 2016 semester in Kampala, Uganda studying grassroots development and microfinance in communities. 



Marian Tower Scholarship

These scholarships were established to reflect Marion Tower’s experience as a world traveler and a student of languages and cultures; in her memory, they support Highland Capital Management (HCM) Tower Scholars who are undertaking similar endeavors. The scholarships will be awarded to HCM Tower Scholars who study abroad for a summer or semester through SMU Abroad programs.

To Apply:  

HCM Tower Scholars should submit a letter of interest to Olisa Dellas, Tower Scholar Program Specialist in the Tower Center at, describing their purpose in studying abroad, explaining how their study abroad plan fits into their overall educational and career goals, and how the scholarship funds will be utilized (maximum 750 words).

Scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit and need, and will range between $1,500-$3,500 depending on the student’s financial need as assessed by the Office of Financial Aid.  


Spring Program Deadline: November 1
Fall Program Deadline: April 1
Summer Deadline: February 1

Learn more about the Tower Center student fellowships and scholarships:

Ray Rafidi | Associate Director for Administrative and Academic Affairs | | 214-768-3665

Dialogue: Undergraduate Journal for Political Studies

The Tower Center publishes a monthly periodical with commentary on politics and international affairs, including interviews with Tower Center speakers, as well as highlights of undergraduate research. At the conclusion of each academic year, Dialogue: the Tower Center Undergraduate Journal for Political Studies will feature the best research from relevant fields at SMU. 

The Tower Center Student Forum publishes a quarterly periodical with commentary on politics and international affairs, including interviews with Tower Center speakers, as well as highlights of undergraduate research. At the conclusion of each academic year, Dialogue: the Tower Center Undergraduate Journal for Political Studies will feature the best research from relevant fields at SMU.

Dialogue welcomes undergraduate submissions on relevant political and international studies topics at all times. To send a submission or request information on submission guidelines, please email

Coming Soon: Volume 6 | Spring 2016 | Issue I

Volume 7 | Spring 2016 | Issue 1 
Volume 5 | Spring 2015 | Issue 1
Volume 4 | Fall 2014 | Issue 1
Volume 3 | Spring 2013 | Issue 1
Volume 2 | Spring 2012 | Issue 1
Volume 1 | Spring 2011 | Issue 1


Student Forum Newsletter

2014 Fall Newsletter
2013 Fall Newsletter
2012 Fall Newsletter