Class of 2018

Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars

Fairooz Adams

Fairooz Adams is a pre-law senior majoring in political science and international studies. He is from Lewisville, Texas, where he began his active participation in politics by challenging a school board decision to split his class. At Southern Methodist University, Fairooz is returning as the campus liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a cofounder and Secretary of the United Students Association, Chairman of the Student Center Governing Board for Student Senate, and the head of BridgeUSA at SMU. Outside of SMU he is a member of the Board of Directors and chief product officer for The American Moderate, contributor to Lone Conservative, New Era America, serving as the Treasurer of the Young Democrats of Denton County, and an intern for Texas Central Partners, the company working to build America’s first high speed train line. He is a Bauer Scholar and a part of the University Honors Program.  Fairooz’s interests in politics and societal concerns range from climate disruption and education to America's national security and the defense of our strategic interests. He joined the Tower Scholars Program primarily because of his desire to gain valuable experience to one day develop answers to challenges with which America is confronted. Upon completion of his undergraduate career, Fairooz intends to attend law school and later enter public service.

Grace Caputo

Grace is a senior from Frisco, Texas double majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with a double minor in Law and Legal Reasoning and Public Policy and International Affairs. Her interest in public policy is to further protect and expand human rights, with a specific focus on people who are currently incarcerated and suffer from mental illnesses. Grace is a Pre-Law Scholar who plans to attend law school next year. In addition, Grace is also a member of the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Grace has participated in several SMU sponsored trips, including the Embrey Human Rights Holocaust trip to Italy, the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, Embrey Human Rights Death Row Facilities Tour Across the South and study abroad in South Africa. In her last three years of college, she served the Boaz Commons Council Executive Public Relations Coordinator as well as participated in Emerging Leaders, Best Buddies, and Dance Marathon. Grace has also had the opportunity to intern at Johnson & Silver Law Firm and is currently interning at the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute where she is working on mental health policy issues within the Texas jail system. In the future, Grace hopes to continue researching U.S. policy regarding the regulation of mental health facilities as well as the rights given to the patients in hopes of improving the safety and well-being of Americans. She is expected to graduate with honors in December. 

Ryan Cross

Ryan is from Westport, Connecticut and is majoring in Political Science and International Studies, alongside minors in Spanish and Public Policy & International Affairs. He is a member of the University Honors Program, the Hilltop New Century Scholars Program, the Career Development Ambassadors and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He has received the Douglas Bauer Scholarship for his achievements in political science and the Marian Tower Scholarship in support of his studies in Argentina, Peru and Chile. As an R. Richard Rubottom Foreign Service Fellow, he researched the parallel development of American and Mexican energy policies. Ryan was selected to represent SMU as a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress; in this capacity, he investigated the interaction of the executive and legislative branches of government on energy policies. His professional experience includes internships at the United States Postal Service, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution. Following graduation, Ryan will embark on a career oriented toward Latin America.   

Isabelle Gwozdz

Isabelle is from Greenwich, Connecticut and is majoring in Political Science and History with Minors in French, English, and Public Policy in International Affairs. She is a Hilltop New Century Scholar and a Cornerstone Scholar. Her involvement at SMU includes the SMU Medieval Club, the SMU Women’s Lacrosse team, and her membership in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. Isabelle’s policy interests include foreign diplomacy and international human rights. After graduation, Isabelle hopes to attend graduate school to study foreign service and eventually work as an overseas diplomat.

MacKenzie Jenkins

MacKenzie Briana Jenkins is a senior at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas. MacKenzie is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Rights and International Studies, with a minor in Arabic and Public Policy. Upon graduation, she plans to attend law school and to pursue the Juris Doctorate in Human Rights and Education Policy, with the eventual goal of becoming a human and civil rights lawyer.

MacKenzie is an active leader on the SMU campus. She served as President of the Association of Black Students for the 2016-17 academic year; Marketing Coordinator for the Crain Leadership Summit; and Peer Academic Leader for Ware Residential Commons. MacKenzie, a Ronald E. McNair scholar, was also selected to serve as a 2017-18 Texas Civic Ambassador through the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. Additionally, MacKenzie is a Community Outreach Fellow through the Embrey Human Rights Program, where she will work with Pipeline to Possibilities to serve students in the Dallas Independent School District.

Currently, MacKenzie serves as the Southwest Regional Representative for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated where she represents collegiate members of the sorority in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas. MacKenzie is grateful to be a member of the Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars 2018 Cohort and looks forward to working with the Education Reform Initiative at the George W. Bush Center for her directed research project.

Brian O’Donnell

Brian is from Fairfield, Connecticut, majoring in Finance, Economics, and Public Policy. In addition to being a HCM Tower Scholar, he is a New Century Scholar and Francis Ouimet Scholar. During his time at SMU, he has been an active member of SMU Catholic Campus Ministry, College Republicans, and Knights of Columbus, having served in a variety of leadership roles. He has also interned at the George W. Bush Institute and Fidelity Investments and worked as a Sports Editor for the SMU Campus Weekly as well as a Student Assistant for the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies. For his Tower Scholars placement, he is conducting research for the Lyda Hill Foundation to assess the opportunities and challenges regarding a potential investment in biotechnology education and development in the DFW area. Brian’s free time is spent playing basketball, reading, and watching sports. His areas of policy interest include macroeconomic policy and international diplomacy.

David Shirzad

David is from Arlington, Virginia and is majoring in Finance, with a minor in Public Policy and International Affairs through the Tower Scholars Program. David is the current Student Body President of SMU. Beyond being President, David is an SMU Ambassador, Vice President of Operations for the Inter-Fraternity Council, a peer buddy in Best Buddies, a Peruna Handler, and a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. His policy interests include global financial and economic policies. Upon graduation, David will be working in New York City with Goldman Sachs.

Drew Wicker

Drew is a Sophomore from Prosper, Texas double majoring in Finance with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, with a minor in Public Policy and International Affairs. His policy interests are wide-ranged with passions for international politics and strategy, US domestic policy issues, and global economics. He has served as the inaugural Chief of Staff for Crum Commons, and currently serves as the President of Crum Commons. He also serves as a founding member and Vice President of Young Americans for Freedom and as a VIP Member and Advisor for the CUBE. After graduation he plans to attend graduate school for a masters in International Political Economy, after which he would like to start his own business and eventually run for political office.