Think Big. SMU & Dallas.

Big on Research



“SMU was the school for me because I wanted a personalized experience in college, where my professors would know me and care about where I want to go in life. My work in the Vogel-Wise Lab allows me as a pre-health student to not only participate in cutting-edge research on finding ways to help cancer patients who don’t respond to chemotherapy, but also develop my own project and create meaningful connections with professors.”

— Roxana Farokhnia, Biology and Health and Society double major on the Pre-Health track, in SMU's Vogel-Wise Lab.


Empathy, curiosity and self-confidence. That combination is not rare at SMU, where our students step out boldly with a passion for research and civic engagement.

Develop your leadership skills in a community of like-minded students who want to make a difference. Take bold steps for a better tomorrow. Be a change agent and make the world a better place close to home and abroad.


SMU invests in underserved West Dallas communities through The School Zone – West Dallas, a flagship project of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development’s Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education. Through research and learning service overseen by The Budd Center, SMU students and faculty come up with solutions to the challenges created by poverty.

SMU students also work in diverse public service internships through the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility to make an impact locally and across continents. Their recent efforts have run the gamut of interning at Bryan’s House, a nonprofit organization that cares for children affected by HIV/AIDS in West Dallas, to volunteering in Costa Rica at a government-supported community center for the elderly. In 2016-17 SMU students completed nearly 10,000 hours of service through Community Engagement and Leadership programs for an estimated economic impact of $235,600.


Six SMU students have made Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Commitments to Action for 2017-18. Hosted by former president Bill Clinton and his family, the annual gathering brings together some of the brightest minds in the world. From teaching K-12 students social entrepreneurship to helping victims of domestic abuse, SMU students were among the thought leaders taking meaningful, measurable steps to confront global challenges.


Civil Rights PilgrimageThrough Alternative Breaks SMU students participate in direct community service opportunities across the country and around the world. Recently, students traveled to Hartshorne, Oklahoma, to work on home repairs and improvements for low-income homeowners.

SMU students also use academic breaks to take journeys into history. Recently, as part of the annual Dr. Dennis Simon Civil Rights Pilgrimage, SMU students visited civil rights landmarks, including the Jackson, Mississippi, home of Medgar Evers. They also walked across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge toward Montgomery and participated in the reenactment of Bloody Sunday.


In academic year 2017–18, SMU students pursued Engaged Learning projects worldwide – in about 27 countries, across Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Students in SMU’s Engaged Learning program are changing Dallas and the world. They take on special projects in research, civic engagement, creative work and internships. SMU’s distinctive Engaged Learning program pairs students with faculty mentors and helps connect students with community organizations that need their ideas.

Putting the brakes on texting while driving
A 2014 collision was Neha Husein’s inspiration to create a solution to stop drivers from texting while driving, a practice that causes numerous fatalities and crashes. Her smartphone app, “Just Drive,” awards points to drivers who lock their phones while driving. Those points can then be redeemed for coupons for free food, drinks or merchandise. Husein plans to develop and scale her app in collaboration with veteran entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

Working to launch Dallas' first community bail fund
Greg Guggenmos is set to launch his nonprofit Community Bail Fund of North Texas, a program that will provide money for indigent defendants who may be behind bars for nonviolent, misdemeanor crimes. The Fund will dole out grants to local defense attorneys whose indigent clients would otherwise spend days and months behind bars because of their inability to make bail.

Engaged Learning at SMU connects undergraduates in entrepreneurial activities across the whole campus, challenging them to think big and think creatively about how they can make an impact on society.


Relay for Life

Raising over $5 billion to fight cancer, this overnight community fundraising walk is a worldwide phenomenon that has teams of people camping out around a track to take turns walking around it. Food, games and activities add to the camaraderie.

Talking Trash

Help keep the shoreline of Dallas’ iconic White Rock Lake clean. Join the cleanup effort for a couple of hours in the morning on the second Saturday of each month at White Rock Lake Park. You’ll get a workout and make new friends. Paddle out if you have a kayak or a canoe to remove things that don’t belong in the water.

Say No to Hunger

Help sort and pack food for the thousands of North Texans the North Texas Food Bank serves. You also can support the Food Bank by attending events that benefit it, including the Empty Bowls luncheon (for soup, bread, dessert and a takehome handcrafted bowl) and Taste of the Cowboys (featuring food from North Texas’ top chefs, live music and former and current Dallas Cowboys).

Help Animals in Need

Reach out to animal shelters, such as the no-kill Paws in the City. Consider volunteering at adoption events or helping with fundraising and transportation.

Suit Up

Donate professional attire and accessories to Dress for Success Dallas, which helps disadvantaged women. Give your time by volunteering to fill the organization’s many needs.

Help a Child Think Big

Volunteer at Big Thought, which provides creative learning programs that help kids excel academically and put them on the road to becoming imaginative, productive adults. Consider helping in the community and at events.

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