Class of 2022


Madeline Battalio decided to attend SMU after her campus visit, excited by the location and opportunities for studying abroad and at SMU-in-Taos.  Her intended major is Economics, but she also is interested in pursuing study of Mathematics and Statistical Science.  At Woodinville High School, Madeline started a science club for elementary school students, helped her Model United Nations team win national awards, and participated in the Future Business Leaders of America and the Spanish Club.  There she earned academic recognition as a member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society and was named a National AP Scholar.  Madeline is ready to escape the cold rain of Seattle for Dallas’ warm sunshine.


Sara Beth Becker chose SMU because of excellent opportunities to study abroad, small class sizes, and location in the heart of Dallas.  She is interested in coding, science, and mathematics and plans to major in Biochemistry.  Sara Beth graduated among the top ten of her class at Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi, where she was a member of the National Honors Society and Mu Alpha Theta.  An engaged member of her community, Sara Beth volunteered as a swim instructor for Incarnate Word Academy’s elementary school students and as an event organizer at St. Patrick’s Church.  

Stella Caldwell comes to SMU from Little Rock, Arkansas.  Drawn by the city of Dallas and the university’s alumni network, Stella is eager to meet new people and take a wide range of challenging courses.  She plans to major in Political Science and International Studies on the Pre-Law track.  While at Pulaski Academy High School, Stella received numerous awards including induction into the National Honors Society and was named an AP Scholar with Honor.  Outside of the classroom, she participated on the Bruin Swim Team and served her community through mission work and the 21st Century Club’s Angels of Hope program.  In her free time, you often can find Stella absorbed in a book.  Recent favorites include Daniel Imhoff’s The CAFO Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories and Emma Cline’s The Girls.

Cole Fontenot chose SMU because of the strong sense of community and the comprehensive liberal arts education. Cole arrives with a broad interest in the Humanities and Social Sciences. In high school he pursued a variety of activities including playing all four years on the Independence High School ice hockey team and participating on the speech and debate teams. Cole is eager to explore all aspects of campus life—particularly cheering on Mustangs and Boulevarding. An avid reader, a current favorite is Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Gabrielle Gard is a Dallas native, where she attended Ursuline Academy.  She arrives at SMU with a passion for biomedical science, spending the past two summers working in a lab at UT-Southwestern studying inflammation in neonates with bronchopulmonary dysplasia as part of the STARS Summer Research program.  Gabrielle intends to major in Biochemistry on the Pre-Med track with the goal of becoming a physician-scientist working in global health care.  While in high school, she received recognition as a National Merit Commended Scholar and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She also is an avid practitioner of taekwondo and holds a third-degree black belt. Her favorite books are Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.    

Madison Geiger comes to SMU from Stonington, Connecticut for both the academic and athletic programming.  She intends to major in Political Science, Economics, and Spanish with an eye towards a future career in politics.  During her time at Stonington High School, she won numerous awards including the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Award and American Legion Auxiliary Girls State Leadership Award, and was elected as Student Body President during her senior year.  Madison is excited to attend Mustang football games and explore the city of Dallas during her time at SMU.  Her favorite book is Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain which helped her understand “the importance of our time here on Earth and how to appreciate those around us.”

Stephanie Gilchrist hails from Chicagoland and chose SMU for its student research opportunities, extensive alumni network, and location.  She is eager to take part in campus traditions like Boulevarding, meet new people, and work with the university’s pathbreaking faculty.  Stephanie plans to major in Biochemistry on the Pre-Med track with a minor in Spanish.  Prior to her arrival at SMU, she received the Cook County Sheriff’s award for community service and was named both an Illinois State Scholar and AP Scholar.  At Carl Sandberg High School, Stephanie joined several honors societies (including the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society), worked as a student athletic trainer for the football and baseball teams, and volunteered as a summer leadership camp counselor.  In her free time, Stephanie follows current events podcasts like “Freakonomics Radio” and NPR’s “Up First.”

Elizabeth Hamill decided to attend SMU because the beautiful campus, the educational opportunities, and sense of community among faculty and students.  She intends to major in English and Philosophy with the goal of becoming a lawyer.  An active participant in school life at New Life Academy in Hudson, Wisconsin, Elizabeth was elected Vice President of student council, served as President of their chapter of the National Honors Society, founded the mock trial team, and worked on seven drama department productions.  She also was recognized for her academic achievements as an AP Scholar with Distinction, as well as winning the Harvard Prize Book and various departmental awards.  An enthusiast of the work of Jane Austen, Elizabeth’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.  

Daniel Jacobs chose SMU for two reasons—the sense of community shared by students, faculty, students, and staff, and a desire to live far from his home in New York.  He plans to major in Biology on the Pre-Med track with the goal of working as a pediatrician.  While a student at Chaminade High School, Daniel became a member of the National Honor Society and received the Chaminade Certificate of Merit in for French.  He swam on the Chaminade varsity team all four years and was voted team captain during his senior year.  A passionate reader, current favorites include Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series and Gregory Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart.  The latter helped him “realize how important forgiveness and second chances are in life.” 

Kylie James decided to attend SMU after a campus visit that revealed “a close-knit community that made the university feel less like a school and more like a home.”  She intends to major in Biology on the Pre-Med track, while continuing study of Spanish.  An Illinois State Scholar, Kylie also was inducted into the National Honor Society and Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honors Society.  In addition to her academic achievements, Kylie also captained her high school cross-country (where she won All-Conference and All-Area awards) and soccer teams and served on a variety of mission trips across the country.  Eager to take advantage of all that SMU offers, she looks forward to making new friends, playing intermural sports, and joining service-oriented clubs.  She is a fan of the Harry Potter series and Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity.  

Bretton Laboret decided to attend SMU because of the strategic location of the campus, the friendly and helpful faculty, and the numerous student activities on offer.  He is most excited about the research opportunities available to undergraduates as well as the ability to meet new, likeminded people.  Bretton intends to major in Biology and Economics on the Pre-Med track, while continuing to explore interests in Chemistry and Finance.  He received recognition at Lovejoy High School as a scholar and an athlete, earning honors such as the National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, and District Newcomer of the Year, District Offensive player, and First Team All-Region for soccer.  Some of Bretton’s favorite novels include Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.

Joseph Lee chose SMU because of the small class sizes, beautiful campus, and possibilities for interdisciplinary work. His passion for biomedical research in developing new therapies is inspired by his younger sister, who has autism, as well as experiences volunteering in Special Needs church ministries. Joseph intends to major in Biochemistry on the Pre-Med Track with a minor in Neuroscience, while continuing to explore interests in Chinese, Computer Science, Philosophy, and Psychology. He attended the Texas Academy of Mathematics & Science at UNT, where he was an Undergraduate Research Fellow, Research Assistant in the Bioinformatics Department, and recipient of the TAMS Summer Research Scholarship. This scholarship facilitated a research internship at the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics in the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Outside of the lab, Joseph was captain of his high school basketball team, selected for the Texas Music Educators Association All Region Orchestra for violin, and awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award for two consecutive years.

Riley Magnone comes to the Hilltop from Southern California, where he plans to study the Biological Sciences and Business.  SMU’s location, the sense of community, and student support drew him here.  Fascinated by the human brain, he intends to pursue a career involving neuroscience.  Riley graduated as Valedictorian of his class at Agoura High School and received an International Baccalaureate diploma.  Outside of the classroom, he served on the board of the non-profit organization, Kids in Action Network, and enjoys playing sports and video games.  Riley’s favorite book is Earnest Cline’s Ready Player One.  
Samer Majeed hails from Fort Worth and chose SMU because of the feeling of community, the University Honors Program, and the allure of campus traditions like Boulevarding.  He plans to major in both Biology and Health & Society with the goal of becoming a spinal orthopedic surgeon.  Samer captained the Trinity Valley Varsity Tennis team for four years, started on the Varsity Football team, and was a member of the Debate team.  In his spare time, he also enjoys playing the piano.  Samer is a fan of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 as “it is a powerful commentary on the importance of cherishing and preserving both intellectual and cultural knowledge.”
Madeline Pan is a native Texan who graduated from Independence High School in Frisco.  She came to SMU not only because of its close proximity to home and its smaller classroom settings, but also because of the abundance of educational opportunities the university offered.  Madeline intends to major in Biology on the Pre-Med track in pursuit of becoming a doctor.  During high school, Madeline played on both the varsity basketball and varsity tennis teams.  She also was a member of the National Honor Society, a National Merit Commended Student, and a National AP Scholar.  In her free time, Madeline enjoys learning Japanese and Korean, as well as listening and dancing to Korean pop music.
Johanna Pang fell in love with SMU after her campus visit where she learned about all of the opportunities for leadership and student involvement.  She plans to study English while also preparing for a career in medicine.  At Rockwall High School, Johanna actively participated in the student band, serving as Band Council President, a Drum Major, and Band Sweetheart and has won awards for her clarinet and piano performances.  She also worked as co-Vice President of her school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and Vice President of the Comic Book Club.  An avid reader of fiction, Johanna’s taste ranges from classics like Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice to the fantasy writing of Collen Houck.
Madeline Payne grew up in the Metroplex and arrives at SMU eager to engage in student research and further develop her Mandarin language skills.  The supportive environment and sense of community drew her to the Hilltop.  She plans to major in Biology and International Studies with a focus on Asia.  Madeline has been all over the world on mission and research trips to Czech Republic, Ecuador, India, and Latvia.  She captained her Varsity Tennis team in both her junior and senior years at Faith Christian School in Grapevine, where she graduated as Salutatorian.  In her free time, Madeline creates art, trains in Krav Maga, and enjoys being in the outdoors.
Andrew Reis comes to SMU from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he graduated as Valedictorian of his class at Regis High School.  He plans to major in Physics and Computer Science, while further developing his interests in Economics and History.  Opportunities for student research, the friendliness of faculty and staff, and the beautiful campus persuaded him join to the SMU community.  While in high school, Andrew worked with the Community Table of Eau Claire to feed the hungry and the Miracle League of the Chippewa Valley, a baseball league for children with disabilities.  An avid golfer, Andrew won three All-Conference Honors for individual performance on his high school team.  Andrew enjoys the collaborative aspects of learning and plans to teach upon graduation.  His myriad interests are revealed by his favorite books: Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.
Sydney Sagehorn arrives at SMU with plans to major in Statistical Science and Journalism, with a minor in Film.  She graduated as Valedictorian of her class at Andover Central High in Andover, where she was inducted in the National Honors Society and also received recognition as an AP Scholar, Kansas Scholars’ Bowl runner-up, Science Olympiad State medalist, and as a Wichita Business Journal 2018 Young Achiever.  In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, reading, writing, and drawing.  One of her favorite books is James W. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me.
Justin Shimizu was drawn to SMU from his home in San Diego because of small class sizes and the possibility for developing relationships with faculty “where I have a name to my face rather than just [becoming] a number lost in the system.”  He plans to major in Biological Sciences on the Pre-Med track with a minor in Neuroscience, while also nurturing diverse interests in Psychology, Applied Physiology, and Business.  In particular, he hopes to focus his future research on uncovering the causes of neurodegenerative disorders.  While in high school, Justin earned recognition as both an athlete and a scholar, as he was named a member of the San Diego Union-Tribute All-Academic Team for Varsity Track & Field and as an AP Scholar with Distinction. 
Michelle Solarczyk came to SMU from Kinnelon, New Jersey because of the educational opportunities and the location.  She is excited about partaking in university traditions like Boulevarding and the numerous outlets for student research and internships.  Michelle plans to major in Environmental Science and International Studies.  While at Kinnelon High School, she was elected President of their chapter of the National Honor Society, founded the school’s first Environmental Club, and joined the National Spanish Honor Society and National English Honor Society.  Her favorite book is Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.
Sarah Venables decided to attend SMU the moment that she stepped on campus, drawn in by the feeling of community, small class sizes, and friendly faces.  She hopes to explore as many of the opportunities to study abroad, engage in student research, and find internships as possible.  She plans to major in Political Science and Journalism and is considering minors in International Studies and German.  Her time at Magnolia High School was marked by academic excellence, qualifying her for induction into the National Honors Society and the Spanish National Honor Society.  Sarah also looks forward to Boulevarding and supporting Mustang athletics.
Derek Younkers chose SMU after being wowed by his campus visit.  At SMU, he plans to major in Political Science on the Pre-Law track with minors in Arabic and Spanish.  Derek graduated Valedictorian of his class at University Preparatory School in Redding, CA, and received honors such as University Preparatory School Scholar Athlete, Redding Rotary Honor to Youth award, and as a National Hispanic Recognition Finalist.  He participated in numerous activities at his high school, including cross-country (where he was a two-time team captain) and cheerleading, where he was named an All-American.  Derek’s favorite book is The Bible.