Undergraduate Spotlight

Shkelqim Kelmendi
Bachelor of Science in Economics, May 2013

Having immigrated to the United States as a refugee, I understood that education was the ticket to forever changing the trajectory of my life and my family’s. My pursuit of this dream led me to SMU, where I focused on Economics, Mathematics, and Business Administration. After graduating in 2013, joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas to follow my interest in economic policy. While at the Dallas Fed, I discovered my true passion for social and economic justice and also met my future wife, Tereas. 

In 2016, I left Dallas for the Pacific Northwest and became involved in affordable housing policy to respond to the homelessness crisis facing the City of Seattle. Seeing the immense barriers facing individuals experiencing homelessness and the gaps in the system, I launched Housing Connector. As a Business to Business organization, Housing Connector utilizes market solutions to incentivize private property owners and managers to open their units for individuals in need of a home, while ensuring they have a steady revenue stream that protects their bottom line. In addition, we partnered with Zillow to develop a technology solution that automates the process for connecting vacant units with people searching for a home. This strategy is predicted to allow Housing Connector to house 1,200 individuals in the next year. 

I will always treasure the friendships, professors, and experiences during my time at SMU, for they shaped and equipped me with the skills and empathy necessary to move my community towards a brighter future.