Alyssa Bleyle

Senior Dedman Scholar reflects on the impact of the program and the SMU experience

Alyssa BleyleThe Dedman College Scholars Program (DCS) currently consists of 75 high-achieving students, each with a major in Dedman College. I knew no one when I started my freshman year at SMU, and DCS helped me to not only adjust to life at SMU, but also meet some of my closest friends. Through the events that the program put on, I was able to familiarize myself with the numerous resources available to me as a Dedman Scholar—such as faculty mentorship and research opportunities—and meet other Dedman students who share my ambition. Through the various events DCS put on in the fall and early spring of my freshman year, I met my best friend/roommate, study buddies in my major, my sorority little, friends to go on spontaneous road trips with, and a multitude of people who would always be there for me.

At the onset of the pandemic, social-distancing guidelines that were implemented in the fall of my sophomore year and some scholars choosing to attend SMU virtually, it was difficult for DCS to hold events, and the program lacked the sense of camaraderie that it possessed when I started at SMU. DCS had been such a significant part of my time at SMU, and at the start of my senior year, I wanted the incoming first-year students to be able to have access to the same opportunities that the Dedman Scholars Program offered before Covid. In August, another senior and I met with Kim Konkel, the Assistant Dean of Dedman College, to create the Dedman College Scholars Student Executive Board to help create a community reminiscent of what the scholars program was like prior to Covid. The primary goals of the student executive board are to plan both academic and entertainment events and promote the program on the Dedman Scholars Instagram page.

So far during the 2022-2023 school year, DCS has hosted a speaker from IBM, gone to the state fair, had a holiday movie and cookie-decorating party, and participated in a trivia night at a local coffee shop, including many other fun events. Because of the work of the student executive board, first-year students have been able to get very involved with the program and reap the benefits of being in a scholars program, including working in a lab, making connections with faculty and older students in their majors, having access to leadership opportunities, and meeting ambitious peers in their year.