2016 Archives

Tower Center selects nine SMU scholars to join global policymaking immersion program

January 26, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – Nine SMU sophomores pursuing minors in public policy and international affairs have been selected as 2016 Highland Capital Management (HCM) Tower Scholars for the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies.

After a competitive process, Tower Scholars are chosen for their knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs, national security and defense and international political economy. They will develop mentor relationships with public policy practitioners, work with clients on actual cases and have access to global and national leaders, local business leaders and Tower Center board members. Senior-year directed-research projects along with Dallas-based placements provide real-world policy experience, and opportunities for relevant study-abroad options exist.

The 2016 HCM Tower Scholars (SMU class of 2018) are:

Fairooz Adams

Fairooz Adams is a Lewisville, Texas, native majoring in both political science and business management and minoring in communications studies as well as public policy and international affairs. He began his active participation in politics by challenging a school board decision to split his high school graduating class, and his political/societal interests range from climate disruption and education to U.S. national security and defense. At SMU he is a cofounder and president of the United Students Association, president of College Democrats, vice chairman of the Student Senate’s Student Concerns Committee, organizations committee chairman for Not On My Campus, and Moot Court vice president. He also is a Bauer Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program. Adams plans to attend law school and later enter public service.

Grace Caputo

Grace Caputo, from Frisco, Texas, is majoring in both political science and human rights and minoring in law & legal reasoning as well as public policy and international affairs. Her interest in public policy stems from a desire to protect and expand human rights, especially for people with mental illnesses. She is a member of Phi Alpha Delta, and involved in Best Buddies, Emerging Leaders, Club Ultimate Frisbee and NSCS. She also serves as executive public relations coordinator for Boaz Commons’ Council. With the aim of improving the safety and well-being of Americans, she plans to research U.S. policy regulation of mental health facilities and patient rights. After graduation, she plans to attend law school.

Diana Cates

Diana Cates of Fort Worth is majoring in international studies and world languages (Spanish/Russian) and minoring in Arabic language. While attending SMU she also is a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and is stationed with Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, in Grand Prairie, Texas. She has served as an administrator with the Marines for eight years and has worked in countries including Uganda, Morocco, Italy and Spain. After graduation, she plans to continue her Marine Corps career as an intelligence officer. Her decision to become an HCM Tower Scholar was influenced by her lifelong commitment to public service, her passion for cultures and languages, and her constant endeavors to challenge herself in every manner.

Ryan Cross

Ryan Cross is a Westport, Conn., native majoring in political science and international studies and minoring in Spanish, history, and public policy and international affairs. At SMU, 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 was drawn to the Tower Scholars Program to broaden his understanding of how public policy can be shaped by political science education. He also is intrigued by its opportunities for real-world policy application and the exclusive coursework offered by the program’s interdisciplinary minor. During his undergraduate career, he intends to study human rights and the politics of Asia and Latin America. 

Isabelle Gwozdz

Isabelle Gwozdz of Greenwich, Conn., is majoring in political science and history and minoring in English. Her desire to be a HCM Tower Scholar stems from wanting to combine her academic interest in public policy with a passion for international human welfare and environmental issues. At SMU the Hilltop New Century Scholar and Cornerstone Scholar is also involved in the Medieval Club, Women’s Lacrosse Team and the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She enjoys volunteering with local youth organizations and is particularly interested in international human rights, currently serving as an ambassador for the Janada Batchelor Foundation for Children in Kitongo, Tanzania. After graduation she plans to attend graduate school and work for an international non-profit organization.

Makenzie Jenkins

MacKenzie Jenkins of Richardson, Texas, is majoring in human rights and political science and minoring in Arabic language. At SMU she is a member of the University Honors Program, a Rotunda Scholar, peer academic leader for Ware Residential Commons, peer mentor for the Rotunda Scholars Program and has earned placement on the honor roll. In the community she tutors local students from Woodrow Wilson High School on Saturdays with the Mustang Heroes-College Bound Chapter. She also is part of the Voices of Inspiration Gospel Choir and the Association of Black Students. Her public policy interests relate to education, specifically the “school-to-prison pipeline” theory and access to education for women and children in the Middle East and Africa. She aims to gain real-world policymaking experience to affect change domestically and internationally.

Brian O'Donnell

Brian O’Donnell is a Fairfield, Conn., native majoring in finance and public policy and minoring in public policy and international affairs, economics and history. He is a Hilltop New Century Scholar, a Francis Ouimet Scholar, and has consistently served on the honor roll with distinction. Currently he is sports editor of the SMU Weekly Campus, treasurer for SMU Catholic Campus Ministry and a member of Mustang Awakening. His interests include fiscal and monetary policy as well as globalization and international trade. After graduation he wants to pursue global macroeconomic research for an investment firm, work for the U.S. State Department or Federal Reserve, and eventually run for public office. 

David Shirzad

David Shirzad of Washington, D.C., is majoring in finance and public policy and minoring in public policy and international affairs. While in D.C. he has been an intern for former President George W. Bush, the European Union Delegation to the U.S., and congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL), John Boehner (R-OH) and Michael McMahon (D-NY). The SMU Ambassador serves as a handler for Peruna and also on the conduct board. He also has been an Academic Advising Registration and Orientation (AARO) leader and has participated in Best Buddies. David wanted to be an HCM Tower Scholar to help him learn to influence international economic policy and analyze its effects on domestic politics.

Drew Wicker

Drew Wicker of Prosper, Texas, is a finance major concentrating in entrepreneurship and public policy while minoring in public policy and international affairs. His interests range from international politics and strategy to U.S. domestic policy and global economics. After serving as the inaugural chief of staff for Crum Commons he currently serves as its president. He is a founding member and vice president of Young Americans for Freedom and is a VIP Member and Advisor for the CUBE. After graduation he plans to pursue a master’s degree in international political economy, start his own business and eventually run for political office.

Now in its second year, the Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars Program was created with more than $4 million in gifts to endow and provide operational support.

The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. All parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center pursues its mission in a nonpartisan manner. For more details about the Tower Scholars program, visit http://www.smu.edu/TowerCenter/Students/TowerScholars.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

In the spirit of John Tower’s commitment to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders, the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the world of ideas, scholarship and teaching, as well as the practice of politics. The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. The Tower Center is an academic center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center pursues its mission in a non-partisan manner.

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