Military alumni scholarships

Celebrating brave and bold Mustangs who have served our country

Dallas Hall

Since 2010, SMU has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to current and former military service members. There are currently 36 undergraduates and 131 graduate military veterans utilizing the GI Bill at SMU. Support for these brave men and women has been growing over the last several years. These scholarships, in combination with the GI Bill education benefit and SMU’s participation in the tuition matching Yellow Ribbon program, help cover up to 100% of tuition expenses.

Meet the scholarship recipients

The Milledge A. Hart, III Scholarship Fund for Veterans of the United States Marine Corps was established in 2019 by prominent Dallas business leader Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 to honor her husband, SMU Trustee Emeritus Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III, on his 85th birthday. The scholarship supports graduate students in the Cox School of Business or the Lyle School of Engineering.

Joe Beeby '23
Joe Beeby ’23

W. Joe Beeby ’23 and Austin Canter ’22 are this year’s scholarship recipients.

Beeby, who is pursuing an MBA with a concentration in finance and strategy entrepreneurship, is the recipient from the Cox School of Business.

“Being a recipient of the Hart Scholarship is a gift I can hardly describe,” says Beeby. “It has allowed my family and me the financial stability to pursue my educational goals with confidence. I am incredibly grateful to the Harts for their generosity and the gravity of their wonderful legacy at SMU. I will always be indebted to their gracious actions and hope to pay it forward someday myself.”

When Beeby was halfway through his undergraduate studies at Washington and Lee he realized that it was “now or never” to fulfill his desire to serve his country. After graduating in 2016, he joined the Marines.

“Both of my grandfathers served in the military, one in World War II in the Navy on a submarine, the USS Tuna, and the other shortly after World War II in the newly created Air Force,” says Beeby. “As an impressionable kid who looked up to both men, I knew I wanted to serve and be tested in combat in some capacity. Having read quite a few war books, I had made up my mind on the Marine Corps – I never considered the other services. I wanted to be the first to fight. Some might call it propaganda, but I bought in (and still do) to the entire Marine Corps ethos, history and esprit de corps. To this day, I am honored to have earned the title of United States Marine.”

During his more than four years of service he deployed once to Norway in support of theater-level NATO operations and earned several military awards including, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Ribbon and Navy Arctic Service Ribbon.

“I think most importantly the Marine Corps gave me a perspective on the true beauty of the United States. Having the experience of leading Marines from all kinds of socioeconomic, ethnic and geographic backgrounds was a real gift in this way. These experiences instilled in me a real appreciation for this country that I certainly took for granted before.”

Beeby plans to go into consulting or private equity. In the meantime, he continues to lead. Most recently he became vice president of the Veterans in Business Club at SMU.

Reflecting on his goals for the future, Beeby says, “Ultimately, I look forward to the opportunity of giving back to Cox, which has offered me so much.”

Canter ’22
Austin Canter ’22 and family

Canter ’22 is the Hart Scholarship recipient for the Lyle School of Engineering. Canter has been with Cisco, the computer networking company, for five years. He works as a software QA engineer while pursuing a graduate degree in computer science. Before attending SMU, he served from 2007 to 2012 in the U.S. Marines as a signals intelligence sergeant and earned a bachelor’s degree from UT Dallas in telecommunications engineering.

“I decided to join the Marine Corps in early high school, but I didn't have a reason beyond what a typical teenage boy might have,” says Canter. “It wasn't until after my first year enlisted that I realized what I was doing meant to those I've never met. The gratitude I received from others gave me purpose and dedication to my commitment to serve.”

Canter says he may have “started at SMU at a later age then most,” it hasn’t detracted from his experience. “On the contrary, I immediately had a great appreciation for SMU.” He has enjoyed the campus, his classroom experiences and the people he has met.

He doesn’t take any of it for granted, and is looking forward to the future.

“I made a commitment to attend and graduate with my master’s, and receiving the Hart Scholarship has solidified this path, I couldn't be more thankful. For the future, professionally, I look forward to what I can accomplish, create and engineer in the telecom industry, but most of all, raising my little girl. Giving her the confidence to pursue and conquer anything that may seem too difficult.”

The U.S. Military Veterans of SMU, parents and friends generously donate to scholarships that honor the commitment current and former military service members have made to our country.

Tina Cathey ’22
Tina Cathey ’22

Tina Cathey ’22 and Greg Miller ’20, ’22 are the 2021 SMU Military Alumni scholarship recipients.

“We can never predict where life takes us,” says Cathey. “I never thought that I would have entered the military growing up. And it is one of the most valuable experiences that I’ve had. I definitely never would have thought that I would have gone back to get my MBA or do such a prestigious program as SMU, and here I am.”

After four years with the U.S. Army that included two tours in Iraq, Cathey parlayed her experience into a successful medical sales career. She climbed many levels of leadership during her more than 15-year career before sensing that she had reached a ceiling.

“I decided that I needed to diversify my experience to take my career to the next level,” she explains.

Cathey says she was leaning into a growth mindset when she applied to the SMU Cox School of Business MBA program, but without the Military Alumni of SMU scholarship, she may have had to press pause.

Before entering her second year as an MBA student, she learned that her VA education benefits had been misclassified. She would no longer be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon benefits that she was anticipating.

“It was a great relief to me knowing that I would have additional funding support,” she says. “There are very few scholarships available for the second year of business school. Without it, I may have had to take a step back.”

Today Cathey is on track for graduation in May 2022. Her days are busy managing her course load, working as a sales director for Boston Scientific and caring for her family, including her 6-year-old, 7-year-old twins and 12-year-old.

She looks forward to the reassurance that her MBA skills will help further her career and the knowledge that she can apply them to any industry.

“The brand of SMU goes a long way in Dallas and beyond,” she says.

Greg Miller ’20, ’22
Greg Miller ’20, ’22

Miller, a December 2022 Cox School of Business MBA candidate, knew that he wanted to serve his country after graduating from high school in his hometown of Ogden, Utah. He joined the U.S. Army in 2008. Two years later, Miller and his unit were deployed to Kunar, Afghanistan, where they served as the route clearance team for the entire province. While out on a mission, his vehicle was struck with an improvised explosive device (IED). He was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries.

Miller says that although his military experience heavily influenced his career trajectory, being awarded a Purple Heart was not what shaped him most. Living on a NATO base with people from India and many European countries was far more pivotal because it sparked an appreciation for and interest in working with people from around the world.

“I really enjoy learning about different cultures and different backgrounds,” he says.

After being honorably discharged at the end of his military contract in 2017, Miller moved to Dallas where his wife had been accepted to her “dream law school” – SMU. He enrolled as a finance major in SMU’s Cox School of Business.

Despite being eight or nine years older than most of his fellow undergrads, he felt welcomed and accepted. When he experienced challenges with his academic benefits through the VA, SMU came through with a scholarship.

Between his junior and senior year, he joined the Multifamily Group, a real estate firm in Dallas, as a finance intern. Today he is a commercial real estate broker with the firm. Many of his clients are international or among their family’s first generation in the U.S.

As an MBA student, Miller is grateful for the chance to study alongside students and learn from professors who are of diverse backgrounds. He is also thankful for the scholarship support.

“The SMU Military Alumni scholarship was an incredible gift to bridge that gap between the tuition assistance from the VA and what I actually had to pay out of pocket.”

When he is not working or studying, Miller enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Chewy. They attend home football games regularly.

“SMU as a university has provided opportunities for both of us that we never imagined. We’re both in great careers,” says Miller. “We’re firm believers and promoters for anyone who’s looking to go to college that this is the university. We are truly grateful for the opportunities that SMU has provided for both of us.”

The Hon. Sam Johnson Endowed Military Scholarship Fund was established in 2017 by the late retired congressman and war hero Sam Johnson ’51 to support the education of military veterans.

Connor Simpson
Connor Simpson ’18, ’23

“I can’t really think of a better program or school than SMU with the kind of education that you’re going to get and the faculty and teachers,” says Connor Simpson ’18, ’23, this year’s scholarship recipient.

Simpson is pursuing an online MBA at SMU while serving active duty with the U.S. Navy in Jacksonville, Florida. His schedule is hectic. In addition to his MBA program, he works up to 72 hours per week driving small security boats as part of his personal protection or asset protection assignments.

“All of the MBA support staff have been so helpful,” he says. “It takes the load off me. All I have to really worry about is taking classes. With all of the other things that have been going on, to be able to just focus on the courses has been super helpful.”

Simpson was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in southern California. Before joining the Navy, he completed a bachelor’s degree in applied physiology and sport management at SMU where he was able to nurture his love for sports, particularly football.

“All the military stuff that I’ve done gives me a different perspective. A stressful bad day with schoolwork isn’t as bad as it can get. It gave me a different perspective on stress.”

After graduation, Simpson is looking forward to participating in an internship, something he wasn’t able to do as an undergrad, and exploring career opportunities in Texas and California.

MilVet community

In 2011, a group of student veterans established The U.S. Military Veterans of SMU – known as MilVets – to serve the unique needs of military veterans on the Hilltop. Today the service organization is housed in Hughes-Trigg Student Center and offers fellowship, volunteer service opportunities and access to resources that help veterans transition to civilian life and navigate their college experience.

“The veterans service department at SMU has been super easy to work with,” says Simpson. “Dealing with SMU has been a breeze, taking a whole lot of stress out of it. SMU has always been there to help military veterans and active duty military to help them pursue their goals.”

For Cathey, balancing work, family and the MBA program made it challenging to participate in extracurricular activities or spend time in the MilVets space, but she says, “I see the wonderful things that they offer to students: camaraderie and fellowship. When you think about the military and your time in the military, that’s probably what you miss the most – having a connection to people who have had similar experiences and similar values. For example, those of us who are out, we really cherish those years that we were able to serve our country. Reconnecting with those like-minded people is something that I’m looking forward to doing.”

If you would like to support scholarships for military veterans, please click here.