Think Big. SMU & Dallas.

Big on Research



"At SMU, professors truly want to know you as a student and as a person. One of my professors connected me to an internship that introduced me to a career path in medicine. I've also conducted research on how abruptly ending long-term, habitual alcohol consumption affects brain cells and was selected to present at a prestigious biomedical research conference."

— Anthony Ruiz, Biology and Applied Physiology and Health Management double major, in a medical lab at a local hospital


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. SMU students recently completed nearly 12,000 hours of service through Community Engagement and Leadership programs for an estimated economic impact of $276,217.


Eight SMU students earned invitations to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting in 2016. 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 St. Louis, Missouri, to volunteer at Crisis Nursery, which provides temporary care for young children to help prevent child abuse and neglect.

SMU students also use academic breaks to take journeys into history. Recently, as part of the annual SMU 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.


BioLumIn academic year 2016–17, SMU students pursued Engaged Learning projects worldwide – in about 25 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.

Learning beyond the classroom
Hope Anderson compared migration and human rights in Nepal, Jordan and Chile.

Turning big ideas into sustainable businesses
As part of the Big iDeas initiative, which awards grants to innovative teams of students to address real-world problems, Jack Reynolds, Edward Allegra and Miguel Quimbar developed BioLum, a smartphone-based imaging system that can diagnose, monitor and help treat asthma.

Taking on global challenges
Jonah Kirby, Cameron Buller, Alec Siems, Brendan Celii and Luke Oglesbee created Fiddler, a clean energy alternative and the first compact rooftop wind turbine system for the modern home. Their startup earned them a spot among America’s 15 most innovative college startups, as reported in Forbes 2016.

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 of 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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