Class of 2026

Ellen AughenbaughEllen Aughenbaugh comes to SMU from Southlake, Texas, and graduated with honors from Grapevine Faith Christian School. Ellen chose SMU for its interdisciplinary options and research opportunities. She plans to double major in Biological Sciences and Art. She also loves math, literature, philosophy, and psychology and hopes to minor in neuroscience. Ellen was named a 2022 National Merit Scholar and is a two-time national qualifier in debate. During her senior year of high school, she was captain of the varsity debate team, captain of the varsity swim team, student body secretary, homecoming queen, and senior class president of the Southlake chapter of the National Charity League. She was also a service officer for three years in the student council, a committee head in the National Honor Society, and a member of the National English Honor Society. Ellen prioritizes God above all else and has been an active member of the church throughout her life. Ellen also loves painting, drawing, and all modes of creation. She is a two-time state gold seal recipient at VASE and the 2022 state champion TAPPS senior art portfolio. She intends to participate in research as soon as possible and is looking forward to partaking in philanthropic opportunities in Dallas. Ellen loves animals, being outside, and staying active. Her favorite film is Inception.

Jackson BeckJackson Beck was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and grew up in Dallas, Texas. He graduated as a high school dual credit student at Dallas College. While in high school, he was on the honor roll and participated in extracurricular activities including volunteering at White Rock Lake and the East Dallas Pet Orphanage, rock climbing and ceramics. He chose SMU for its outstanding academic opportunities, strong sense of community, and the academic culture of the University Honors Program. He is majoring in English and works as a writing tutor at the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center here at SMU. Additionally, Jackson currently aspires to double major in film and is the media chair for the SMU Student Filmmakers Association. Jackson likes to spend his free time reading, writing, watching movies, playing pick-up sports, and attending various events here on campus. He is proud to be part of the Dedman College Scholars program and hopes to make a lasting impact at SMU.            
Davis Billups Davis Billups was born in Washington, DC but moved to Fairhope, Alabama right before high school. He was drawn to SMU because of its location, academic rigor, and the community. He plans to pursue a major in both History and in Classical studies. In high school, Davis participated in events like Model UN, Scholar's Bowl, and Chamber Choir, as well as being a member of the National Honor Society and being an AP Scholar. Davis is a big fan of sports, cinema and television, with his favorite show being The Wire. Davis also loves to travel around the world, including locations like St. Petersburg and Paris.
Luke FarleyLuke Farley begins his undergraduate studies at SMU in the Dedman School of Humanities and Sciences. He will be part of the University Honors Program as well as the Dedman College Scholars Program. Luke has an interest in Economics and Statistical Science but is still exploring the opportunities SMU offers to find what he would like to do with his next 4 years and after. Some of the many reasons he chose SMU is because of the undergraduate research opportunities, the location of SMU with it being in a thriving city, and the top tier faculty. He graduated from the Stowe High School in Stowe, Vermont as a member of the National Honor Society. While at Stowe, he helped organize town-wide volunteering events, such as a Veterans Day Breakfast for the local veterans. In his time away from school and academic work, he enjoys staying active through playing sports, specifically lacrosse. In high school, Luke was a captain for the varsity soccer team, varsity basketball team, and varsity lacrosse team, while also playing for his school's golf team. Luke is a huge fan of films directed by the Coen brothers and Wes Anderson for their storytelling and underlying themes.
Lauren JenkinsLauren Jenkins grew up in Overland Park, Kansas and plans to double major in Mathematics and English while minoring in Spanish. She chose SMU because of its numerous opportunities to explore multiple interests without restrictions, whether that be through additional majors or extracurricular activities. Lauren is most excited to experience SMU’s unique traditions like Boulevarding and attending the Tate Lecture Series. She also can’t wait to become a part of the Dallas community through volunteering with Engage Dallas. In addition to being a Dedman Scholar, Lauren is also a part of the University Honors Program. Previous to college, she was a Presidential Scholar candidate, National Merit Commended Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, a recipient of the Kerry Layton Memorial Scholarship and Doc Roberts Scholarship, President of her school’s Science National Honors Society, Vice President of their Mu Alpha Theta chapter, and graduated summa cum laude from her high school. Lauren has always been very active in music, leading her high school marching band as drum major and becoming an All-State musician her junior year. In her free time, she loves to read classic novels, cook new dishes, and walk outside. Her favorite novel is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.
Alexa LipskyAlexa Lipsky comes to the Hilltop from League City, Texas, graduating from Clear Springs High School. She was drawn to SMU by its beautiful campus, small class sizes, and ability to personalize her education. She is a member of the University Honors Program and intends to major in Biophysical Sciences on the Pre-Health track with minors in Chemistry, Data Science, and Mathematics. She has played the saxophone for seven years and has been a dancer for the past fifteen years, where she was president of her company team. Additionally, she was a drum major for her high school marching band where she conducted performances. Alexa was a National Merit Commended Scholar, a four-year Superintendent Scholar, a recipient of the Clear Springs High School Leadership Award, an AP Scholar with Distinction, and a summa cum laude graduate. She was also a part of National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Science National Honor Society, and HOSA. She was a member of Assisteens of the Bay Area, a volunteer organization where she participated in events for Cause for Paws, Project Snuggle, and other local groups. She most enjoyed helping with Project Family where she volunteered at a shelter for abused women and their children. Alexa is a huge Disney fan with the long-term goal of visiting each of the theme parks around the world. She is also an avid scuba diver with a love for swimming with sharks. She expresses her love for marine life through her support of conservation efforts.
Vigna LavuVigna Lavu grew up in Flower Mound, Texas, and graduated from the Texas Academy of Math and Science with Honors. She plans to major in Biology, on the Pre-Health track, and minor in Spanish and Business. Vigna chose to attend SMU due to the availability of opportunities at and around SMU and its proximity to home. Vigna is eager to engage in the SMU community by joining various clubs and participating in scientific research. In high school, Vigna conducted undergraduate biochemistry research about high-pressure neurological syndrome, earning an undergraduate research fellowship award at the University of North Texas. In her free time, Vigna enjoys spending time outdoors, doing activities like hiking and kayaking at Grapevine Lake. Her favorite book is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.
Kaylie NguyenKaylie Nguyen graduated from Los Alamitos High School in southern California. In high school, she was the president of multiple student clubs such as California Scholarship Federation and French Honors Society. In addition to playing varsity golf, she ran track all four years and competed at the CIF State level in her senior year. By running on the Unified Relay team, she promoted inclusivity and compassion to her teammates. Kaylie volunteered over 1,000 hours for the Youth Center, a non-profit organization centered around kids. Her honors include National Merit Commended Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, Junior Honor Guard, and several leadership and character awards. She was accepted and participated in the Barrett Summer Scholars and Economics for Leaders programs. In her free time, Kaylie loves reading, traveling, and photography. She recently traveled to France and Switzerland on her own and loved sightseeing. She is attracted to SMU’s inclusive community, emphasis on interdisciplinary education, and opportunities both in and out of the classroom. She hopes to conduct research, study abroad in a foreign country, and intern in the Dallas area. Her interests include STEM fields like data science and mathematics. Kaylie is most excited to network and form friendships with diverse people while exploring SMU and Dallas. Her favorite book series is Throne of Glass.
Vigna LavuNia Savova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, but grew up in Texas. She graduated from Coppell High School and was drawn to SMU for its flexible academic program, small class size, and emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Nia takes keen interest in the intersection of art, science and technology and intends to pursue a major in Data Science and International Studies, with potential minors in Spanish and Business Administration. In high school, Nia received the AP Scholar with Distinction award and was designated a National Merit Commended Scholar. While playing varsity tennis and participating in the varsity marching and symphonic bands, she was designated a Texas Academic All-State Athlete. During the summers, as a way to give back to her community, she was actively involved in as a volunteer for local library events and a guide in the nearby biodiversity center. She gained valuable professional experience during work stints as a tennis coach, a Starbucks barista and an internship at the Coppell Arts Center supporting the local theater company. She fills her leisure time with drawing, playing piano, travel and sports including tennis, skiing, and biking. She adores Ghibli films and Exupery’s The Little Prince for their aesthetic and hidden messages that resonate with her. Enthusiastically awaiting the challenges of college life at SMU, she hopes to discover new passions and expand her skill set to match the opportunities and demands of an increasingly complex world.
Shriya Siddhartha Shriya Siddhartha graduated from Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas. She is incredibly excited to begin her studies at SMU, which she chose for the abundant undergraduate research opportunities, interdisciplinary curriculum, and small, close-knit community. She intends to pursue the Pre-Health track, majoring in Biochemistry and Health and Society with a minor in Neuroscience, as her true passion lies in serving others through science and her research. Shriya graduated summa cum laude as a top 10 student and earned the additional distinctions of National Merit Commended Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. In high school, Shriya was very involved in Speech and Debate as a competitor and mentor, and she has competed at the state and national levels. She founded and presided over her school’s chapter of the Science Honor Society where she connected aspiring pre-health students with opportunities to shadow physicians and volunteer through STEM in their community. Shriya describes herself as a curious and inquisitive individual and has independently written research papers in neuroscience throughout high school. Outside of science, Shriya is passionate about music and is an accomplished singer and violinist. She has been learning Carnatic (South Indian Classical) vocal music for ten years and regularly gives concerts with her sister. Shriya loves Romantic literature, and her favorite works are The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and John Keats’ poetry. She’s looking forward to making a difference during her time at SMU.
Meredith VaughnMeredith Vaughn is from Overland Park, Kansas, and plans to major in English on a Pre-Law track. In high school, she was involved in soccer, yearbook, Relay for Life, and garnered National Honors Society distinction in math, science, Spanish, and journalism. Outside of school, she played club soccer and recreational basketball, volunteered in the nursery at her church, worked as a summer nanny and assistant soccer coach, and served three years for a ministry in Alaska. Meredith was named National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, and graduated summa cum laude. She chose SMU for the supportive attitude toward aspirational students in all their explorations. She is looking forward to playing intramural sports, studying abroad, and eating whenever she wants to in college. Meredith's favorite books are Their Eyes Were Watching God and The House on Mango Street. Her favorite movie is The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version).
Inaara ViraniInaara Virani was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and moved to Carrollton, Texas in 2019, graduating from Hebron High School in the top 5 percent of her class. Throughout high school, she challenged herself by taking rigorous coursework and pursued her interest in languages by taking French and Latin. At SMU, she intends to major in World Languages and Literatures, and explore the various extracurricular opportunities.