Class of 2021

Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars

Kalkidan Alemu

Kalkidan is from Fort Worth, Texas, and is majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry, Business Administration, and Public Policy and International Affairs through the Tower Scholars Program. At SMU, Kalkidan is a Hunt Leadership Scholar, a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Society, and a residential assistant in Upper Division Housing. She also volunteers and shadows at Parkland Hospital in the Urgent Care, Emergency, and Trauma Unit. Furthermore, she is highly involved in the youth programs at her local church. Upon graduation from SMU, Kalkidan plan to pursue a combined dietetic internship and master’s program centered around public health and physical wellness. Kalkidan believes an individual’s lifestyle, particularly one’s diet, is the foundation of one’s holistic wellness. Therefore, as a stout advocate for identifying and addressing root causes, Kalkidan is pursing a career as a registered dietitian to address the underlying issues of debilitating diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressures. 

Zubair Benyacoub

Zubair is from Richardson, Texas majoring in Finance and with minors in Arabic, History, and Public Policy and International Affairs through the Tower Scholars Program. He is also a President’s Scholar and BBA Scholar and works as a part-time analyst with Clavis Capital Partners and as a Don Jackson Fellow with the Alternative Assets Program. He enjoys arranging music playing video games with his friends and family in his free time. Zubair hopes to use his experience as a Tower Scholar to help his decision making in the investments space.

Polina DeClue

Polina is from St. Louis, Missouri and is majoring in Political Science and World Languages, specializing in Spanish and Russian with minors in History and Public Policy and International Affairs. In addition to being a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar, Polina is also a Pre-Law Scholar and a Faith and Learning Scholar. Polina is highly involved in her community, having previously served as Vice President on the Mock Trial Team, and serving as the current Administrative Vice President of her international sorority, Gamma Phi Beta. She also works as a legal intern at a criminal defense law firm in Dallas. Polina’s interest in public policy lies in Russian-American relations and has a background in Russia and Eastern European politics through study and having lived in Russia for a part of her childhood. Additionally, she is highly interested in immigration policy and law with a focus on both domestic and international issues. Upon graduation, Polina hopes to attend law school and go on to work at an international embassy or department of foreign affairs.

Ammaar Kazi

Ammaar is a pre-med student from Memphis, Tennessee. He is majoring in Biological Sciences and Economics on the Pre-Medical Track, with minors in both Arabic and Public Policy and International Affairs. In addition to being an Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar, he is a President’s Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program. He is also an active member of the Muslim Students’ Association and the Mustang Emergency Medical Services. Outside of SMU, Ammaar volunteers at Trinity River Mission as a tutor for special-needs kids and serves as a tour guide for Dar el Salam Travels in trips to the Middle East and Spain.  Ammaar's public policy interests lie in such diverse topics as health care reform, combating climate change and tackling radical Islamic terrorism as well as the growing Islamophobia that accompanies it.  Ammaar is looking to gain hands-on experience in policy making and having an impact both in the local community and at the national level.

Marina Leventis

Marina is from Grapevine, Texas pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration in Finance and a minor in Public Policy and International Affairs. In addition to being a Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar, Marina is a BBA Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and the Hyer Honor Society. Marina is proud to be the President and founder of the BBA Women in Business Club, the only undergraduate student organization that offers professional development opportunities and career placement specifically for women pursuing business goals. Marina’s primary policy interests include the very broad areas of military and intelligence, particularly U.S. military strategy in the Middle East and East Asia and the implications of changing levels of military spending on military strategies and decisions. She also is very interested in foreign policy regarding the Middle East with a particular focus on US-Saudi Relations and Iran. 

Madison Lopez

Madison is from Lewisville, Texas, and is majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with minors in History and Public Policy and International affairs. She is a Hilltop Scholar, Pre-Law Scholar, and a Center for Faith and Learning Scholar. Madison is president of the Sigma Phi Lambda sorority and is a cofounder and president of the SMU Student Alliance Against Trafficking, an organization that brings awareness to human trafficking and serves and advocates for victims of trafficking. Madison’s policy interests range from education and immigration to human rights legislation regarding human trafficking, women’s empowerment, and refugee crises. She hopes to earn a law degree or pursue a master’s in public policy and international affairs.

Evangeline Mathis

Evie is from Boulder, Colorado, and is majoring in Public Policy and Corporate Communication and Public Affairs with a distinction in Political Communication. She is a Pre-Law, Hilltop, and Faith and Learning Scholar and is the vice president of the SMU Mock Trial team. Evie is also the political director of a campus political organization, member of the Chi Omega Sorority, and intern at a corporate litigation firm. Evie is honored to be a part of the Tower Scholars Program and hopes to transform knowledge gained from past local government involvement into applicable policy-making prowess. Her primary interests include urban development and the optimization of communication within both the policy-making process and government-to-citizen discourse.

Bibiana B. Schindler 

Bibiana is a full-ride President’s Scholarship recipient and a member of the Hyer Honor Society. Her major is in History with double minors in Russian Studies as well as Public Policy and International Affairs in preparation for a career in law. Passionate about international policy, Bibiana serves as President of the Russian Club and has spent two summers with the SMU-in-Prague summer programs, first volunteering with the Forum2000 NGO focused on fostering democracy, and then serving as a Teaching Assistant for Russian language and history courses. Bibiana works to promote social justice, diversity, and inclusivity on campus through SMU’s center for Jewish life, Hillel, where she is currently Co-President of Hillel and a Student Engagement Intern. She previously served as Vice President of Interfaith, Community, and Social Justice. As a member of the Standards Committee and head of Parent Relations in the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Bibiana ensures chapter members uphold sorority values. She also serves as a History Department Ambassador, helping plan and execute outreach and recruitment events. In her spare time, Bibiana enjoys taking science and math courses to complement her interests in international and environmental policy.

Allison Schultz

Allison is from Dallas, Texas, majoring in Public Policy on a Pre-Law Track with minors in Public Policy and International Affairs and Psychology. At SMU, she is a Dedman College Scholar, a member of the University Honors Program, and an Honor Roll Recipient. On campus, Allison is a Resident Assistant for Kathy Crow Commons, an Undergraduate Admission Ambassador, the Tate Lecture Chair for Student Foundation, and Captain of Mustang EMS. Off campus, Allison has interned with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and in Dallas. In addition, she recently studied abroad at the University of Oxford with the SMU-in-Oxford Program and previously traveled to Israel with SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program. Allison plans to pursue a career in either health law, criminal law, or federal law enforcement.

Lexie Watson

Lexie is from Naples, Florida and is majoring in International Studies with minors in Chinese and Public Policy and International Affairs through the Tower Scholars Program. In addition to being an Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar, Lexie is a Pre-Law Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program. Lexie is also involved in Armstrong Commons Council, the Student Senate Endowment Committee, and a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Lexie’s policy interests include education reform, immigration, and national security. Lexie hopes to gain a deeper and more practical understanding of public policy through her participation in the Tower Scholars Program. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and later use the skills gained through the Tower Scholars Program to embark on a career that involves public policy and international relations.