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Hunt Leadership Scholars Program


History and Profile

As time passes and you look back upon the years that you spent on this campus, you will find that, while you were here, you developed some of your closest enduring friendships, realized some of the more important truths that subsequently fashioned your life, and refined many of the skills which, hopefully, will allow you to compete successfully in the rapidly changing world in which you will live. This is what the college experience is designed to do—and this is what SMU does particularly well.

--- Ray L. Hunt
The Hunt Leadership Scholars Program began in 1993 from the vision and generosity of Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt. Even when they were students at SMU, the Hunts hoped someday “to give back to the university that had done so much for us.” They believed that an SMU education fosters, and benefits from, the kind of student with a combination of qualities:
  • Demonstrated leadership ability
  • Intellectual ability coupled with the desire to apply that ability to leadership and community participation
  • A strong work ethic and willingness to accept responsibility
  • A desire to grow in one’s leadership skills within the SMU community and eventually beyond
Thus, the Hunts founded a scholarship program that would attract, and make an SMU education available to, students with these qualities.

Hunt Scholars in Academics

The Hunt Scholarship's value is in the opportunities and the community.  The experiences I have had as a part of the program are unmatched, among them hearing world-renowned speakers, interning at The George W. Bush Institute, and studying abroad in Dublin.  The community of Hunt Scholars has inspired me to lead and achieve at a higher level.

--- Luke Collins, Hunt Leadership Scholar, Class of 2019
From an extraordinarily talented group of young leaders, approximately 20 students will receive the Hunt Leadership Scholarship each year. In 2020-2021, we have 86 Hunt Leadership Scholars, first-year through senior, from all across the United States.

The Hunt Scholars span the majors of the curriculum and have widely varying backgrounds, interests, and activities. Their majors (or double majors, or majors with minors) include the fields of History, Anthropology, Public Policy, Biology, Advertising, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Engineering, Marketing, Finance, Economics, and numerous interdisciplinary studies.

Hunt Scholars in Campus Leadership

Community is a vital component of the Hunt Scholars Program - not just the community of passionate individuals we surround ourselves with, but the larger SMU and DFW communities that we dedicate our time to improving.  From Genesis Women's Shelter & Support, to the North Texas Food Bank, to the Readers2Leaders tutoring service, there's no shortage of volunteer opportunities or Hunt Scholars working on them.

--- Cheyenne Murray, Hunt Leadership Scholar, Class of 2019
Hunt Scholars are also leaders in all spheres of campus life. Hunt Leadership Scholars have served as President, Vice-President, and Secretary of the Student Body; Program Council, and Student Foundation. They have been leaders across the spectrum of SMU’s hundreds of student organizations, including organizations focused on academics, student life, politics, community service, and the faith-based community. They have served as editors for campus newspapers and publications, Resident Assistants, and tutors for numerous academic areas. Many have served key roles in the area of prospective and new student programs, as SMU Ambassadors, Orientation Leaders, and Stampede Guides.

Hunt Scholars in the Community

In addition to being leaders across campus, Hunt Scholars take on leadership roles in various facets of the Dallas community. A group of Hunt Scholars founded Mustang Heroes, a community service group that works with such organizations as Head Start, KIPP, and Family Gateway. Many Hunt Scholars also utilize Engaged Learning projects and Big iDeas grants as ways to combine their entrepreneurial spirit with their passion for giving back to the community. Additionally, the entire Hunt Scholars program participates in at least one service project together annually. Hunt Leadership Scholars have a passion for giving back to the Dallas community and use their leadership skills to make the biggest impact possible.

Hunt Scholars after Graduation

Once you leave this campus, whatever it is you do, whether it’s in business, not-for-profit, or any aspect of life, become known as the person who never hesitates to take the job that’s not going to get any publicity, the job that others don’t want to take on. If you develop a reputation that you’re always willing to take it on, and that anytime you take on a job, everybody else can forget about it, then you will rise up in any organization in a business or non-business environment.

--- Ray L. Hunt
The first Hunt Scholars graduated in 1997. Where are they now, and where have they gone in the past one to eight years? A sampling:
  • Medical school
  • Law school
  • Divinity school
  • Management consulting
  • Graduate programs in national security studies, English, psychology, education, and American studies
  • Teaching
  • Not-for-profit sector
  • Newspaper reporting
  • College professor
  • Press secretary to U.S. congressman
  • Public relations firm
  • Coro Fellow; Fulbright Scholar
  • Intern with U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in Rwanda
  • Teach for America
  • Peace Corp