Spencer Brown comes to SMU from Putnam Valley, New York, graduating from Putnam Valley High School as the school’s salutatorian and an AP Scholar with Distinction. While in high school, he was a member of numerous honor societies and played varsity lacrosse and varsity golf. As an Eagle Scout, he actively participated in volunteerism in his community, and hopes to continue to partake in community service and engagement while at SMU. Spencer will study Biological Sciences at SMU, while considering the pursuit of careers in medicine or pharmaceuticals. He chose SMU for its tight-knit student community, its location in a metropolitan area, and its high academic prowess. In his free time, Spencer enjoys activities such as golf, skiing, ice hockey, wakeboarding, and spending time with friends and family. His favorite film is Tenet by Christopher Nolan.
|Madeline Byers is a Tampa, Florida native and attended boarding school in Boca Raton prior to arriving on the Hilltop. She graduated with an IB diploma and was incredibly involved as student body vice president, a prefect in the dorms, and founder of her school’s spirit club. She was captain of her cross-country team and participated in water polo and track and field. She was also involved in Model UN and Mu Alpha Theta. She selected SMU for the amazing opportunities, sense of community, and culture of the honors program it presented. Madeline aspires to major in Biology with a minor in Spanish on the Pre-Health track. Being internationally minded is incredibly important to her and she cannot wait to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad and learn more about the world around her.
|Robert Dunn, born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, graduated from Laguna Blanca School on the honor roll. He plans to major in Economics on the Pre-Health track. At Laguna Blanca, Robert was named an AP Scholar and received both the David Elkins Award for Outstanding Character and the Roberson French Prize. An avid soccer player, he served on the Board of Directors of AYSO Region 122 for seven years, volunteering his time to referee hundreds of youth- and adult-league soccer games. In addition to being an all-league soccer player, Robert played on Laguna’s varsity tennis team and participated in mock trial for four years. Furthermore, having developed a strong interest in medicine, Robert completed two observerships at Houston Methodist Hospital, for which he earned Laguna Blanca’s Best Senior Project award. For the past three summers he has worked with his twin brother on the summer crew at Tropicana Student Living, a student residence hall at UC Santa Barbara, in operational support for incoming summer camps. His hobbies include cars, working out, skiing, and golfing. Favorite books include The Great Gatsby, Still Life, and Of Mice & Men. Robert plans to settle down in Texas and chose SMU for its top-tier faculty, small class sizes, and plethora of academic and professional opportunities in the Dallas area.
|Katarina Eid comes to SMU from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she graduated from Air Academy High School. During school, she was a member of National Honor Society, National Charity League, French Club, and Link Crew. She plans to major in Political Science on a Pre-Law track but maintains an interest in pursuing study in French and Psychology. SMU’s encouragement of students to pursue multiple majors and opportunities are what drew her to the Hilltop. Outside of school, she enjoys embroidery, threadcraft, skiing, and biking. Katarina is interested in joining the Classical Studies Club, Speech and Debate, and Student Government. Her favorite book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
|Zachary Frank was born in Topeka, Kansas but spent elementary school in Cedarburg, Wisconsin and middle school in Las Vegas, Nevada. He comes to SMU from Capistrano Valley High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. During high school, Zach was a four-year member of the basketball program and served as the student government Athletics Commissioner. Zach’s academic honors include achieving co-valedictorian, AP Scholar recognition, Scholar Athlete Award and Spanish Biliteracy certification. Zach’s interest in international relations was sparked by Summer Pre-College at Syracuse University and a seminar in Intelligence and National Security at American University. At SMU, his plan is to major in Political Science with a minor in International Studies. Zach was honored to be named a SMU Pre-Law Scholar and hopes to attend law school following graduation. In addition to his service as a Dedman Scholar and membership in the University Honors Program, he hopes to capitalize on the numerous volunteer opportunities at SMU that can impact the wider community. In his free time, Zach loves watching sports and spending time with his dogs, Thor and Fritz.
|Grayson Gaither, a Dallas native, chose to attend SMU because it afforded him the best opportunity to personalize his education with small class sizes in great proximity to home. He is excited to meet new people and make new connections through membership in the University Honors Program and Dedman College Scholars Program. He intends to study Political Science and possibly double major in Business Administration at the Cox School of Business. In high school at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, Grayson participated in the debate, National Honor Society Aloysius Chapter, and Ignatian Service Corps. Grayson earned several honors including the Eagle Scout Award, Principal’s Honor Roll, and Community Service Leadership Award for his work with the educational non-profit United to Learn. He was also a member of their Fellows Program and the United to Learn Teen Board. Outside of academics, Grayson enjoys watching and playing golf. He loves to travel and explore new places and calls London, England, Central Virginia, and Wilbarger County, Texas his favorites. A lover of history, he enjoys studying the political history of the United States and the United Kingdom. He is a huge fan of the James Bond film franchise. His favorite books are Grounded by Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Utopia by Sir Thomas More, A $500 House in Detroit by Drew Phillip, and The Red and the Blue by Steve Kornacki for their views and interpretations of politics, government, and the world’s potential.
|Weston Hafer was born in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, but grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. Weston graduated from Edgewood High School as president of the Political Discussion Club, a recipient of the Academic Excellence Award, and with membership in the coveted Honors Society. His previous community service included volunteering for a local K-8 reading tutoring company, interning at a federal law clerk's office, as well as coaching youth flag football on weekends. Weston has interests in Political Science and English with Creative Writing at SMU. He considers his JD wishes to be forged by outstanding intellectual figures, including a brother with a formidable private practice, and a brilliant sister-in-law who practices employment law. Although Weston is passionate about earning a legal degree, the underlying desire to become an American novelist is still in consideration. Aside from scholarly pursuits, one can find him working up an intense sweat on the racquetball courts, or indulging in west-coast oysters, or partaking in high-adrenaline activities like backflip cliff jumping and barrel wave bodyboarding. His favorite movie is Titanic, with Shawshank Redemption following as a close second. Weston's favorite books are Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham and Matthew Quick's Silver Linings Playbook. Weston is proud he stuck to his promise about going to college far from home (even though mom is not) and cannot wait to begin a new journey in Dallas.
Peyton Kirtley comes to SMU from Tampa, Florida, where she graduated from Berkeley Preparatory School. She intends to study psychology, but maintains an interest in French, English literature, history, and music. Prior to arriving on the Hilltop, she received honors such as the Global Scholar Honors Capstone Achievement, National Honor Society, National French Honors Society, National English Honors Society, Quill and Scroll Society, Headmaster’s Award, and the first annual Legacy Award. During high school, she was involved in roughly ten clubs, participated in her school’s musicals, joined an a capella group, and played volleyball. She loves any movies that star Audrey Hepburn, such as Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Funny Face, and Roman Holiday, as she grew up watching them with her father and became inspired by her volunteerism. Peyton is most excited about applying for study abroad opportunities and taking advantage of the countless unique courses SMU offers.
|Madison Lester graduated from McKinney North High School in McKinney, Texas. While in high school, she was a part of the student council as well as the National Honor Society and was the president of her school’s French club. Her honors include two AP Scholar with Distinction awards, a National Merit Corporation scholarship, her district’s Distinguished Student in Science award and the title of Scholar in Social Studies. Madison chose SMU due to its sense of community, commitment to service, endless opportunities and proximity to home. She plans to major in Biological Sciences on the Pre-Health track and minor in Neuroscience and English. Madison wants to take part in medical research during her time at SMU. She is looking forward to learning from the diverse students, faculty and staff at SMU and taking part in SMU traditions. Madison has been a competitive cheerleader for 14 years and can’t wait to be a part of SMU’s spirit community. She has coached cheerleading for the past three years and has also coached special ability cheer teams. In her free time, she enjoys reading, art and listening to music. Her favorite book is The Great Gatsby, and her current favorite movie is Oppenheimer.
|Mallory Lorant comes to SMU from Westlake, Texas, where she graduated with honors and earned her International Baccalaureate Diploma from Westlake Academy. She plans to double major in Philosophy and Corporate Communications and Public Affairs and double minor in Spanish along with Law and Legal Reasoning. She chose SMU for the academic excellence, thriving community, premier location, and the vast opportunities offered to her. She is part of the University Honors Program, Dedman College Scholars, Hegi Career Leaders, and Pre-Law Scholars as she plans to become a criminal attorney with an emphasis on child advocacy. She was also named a Distinguished Scholar and an International Baccalaureate Scholar. Mallory is looking forward to studying abroad and working with Engage Dallas. Prior to attending SMU, Mallory earned the Presidential Volunteer Service Award at the Gold level multiple years. She is a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish National Honor Society, and an AP Scholar. At her International Baccalaureate World School, she was named Spanish Student of the Year, and she was awarded the IB Learner Profile Trait “Thinker” and “Communicator” Awards. Outside of her academic career, she currently holds the title of Miss Texas Teen Volunteer, where she serves as an advocate for domestic violence through her ever-growing social platform, ELEVATE. She grew up in the dance studio, and she loves to wake-surf. Her favorite novels are A Lesson Before Dying and Purple Hibiscus, and her favorite television show is Maid.
|Bitsy McCarthy from Los Gatos, California is thrilled to be attending SMU as part of the 2027 class. She was attracted to the Hilltop’s beautiful campus, small class sizes, and school spirit. She looks forward to taking advantage of SMU’s location and strong community ties in Dallas. Bitsy was a swimmer and a cheerleader in high school. She is a strong advocate for equity in health care and has worked with organizations that help get services to those in need. Bitsy intends to take advantage of SMU's reputation for encouraging students to have multiple fields of study as she explores the connections between a positive mindset, nutrition, spirituality, mental health, exercise, and how each of these can impact achievement personally, professionally, and physically. Bitsy is most looking forward to cheering on her SMU Mustangs. Pony up!
|Emily McGrail grew up in Key West, Florida and moved to Jupiter, Florida for high school, graduating from Jupiter Community High School with high academic honors. She plans to major in Political Science, on the Pre-Law track, and possibly minor in English with Creative Writing or Business. She will also be a part of the University Honors Program. Emily chose to attend SMU due to the availability of opportunities, intimate class sizes, and it’s tight-knit community. Emily is excited to engage in the SMU community by joining various clubs and rushing in the spring. In high school, Emily was editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, president of the National English Honors Society, and an AP Scholar with Distinction. She was also a part of the National Honors Society and Social Studies Honors Society. She has received high marks on numerous editorials, including having a poem published online for a female-run literary magazine. Emily also participated in varsity cross country, varsity track, and played varsity and club soccer throughout her high school career. In her free time, Emily enjoys reading, writing, running, and traveling. Her favorite movie is La La Land, and her favorite book is Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collection Interpreter of Maladies.
|Eleanor Mullen was born and raised in San Francisco, California, and graduated with honors from Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory. She was drawn to SMU by its tight-knit sense of community as well as its focus on academic connection and attention. She is a member of the University Honors Program and is hoping to major in Biology or Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience, on a Pre-Health track. Eleanor loves the ability to pursue her interest in Pre-Health while exploring other interests, creating a liberal arts style education. She is looking forward to joining student organizations, getting to know Dallas, conducting research, and studying abroad. In high school, she participated in activities such as serving on her school’s head student council, acting as the student leader for her school’s service organization, creating a hands-on STEM curriculum and teaching it to a San Francisco elementary school, and more. Her largest project to date is an internationally recognized film festival she helped found and operates with five other young women. The festival is aimed at encouraging young girls to pursue their interest in film and fields submissions annually from around the globe. Last year, Eleanor wrote and delivered a TED Talk on the importance of establishing limited learning forums, especially for underrepresented groups, using her background with the film festival as the grounding point. Her favorite movie is La La Land, and her favorite book is Normal People by Sally Rooney.
Hannah Olson is from Austin, Texas and chose SMU for opportunities such as undergraduate research, smaller classes, the study abroad program, University honors, and faculty support. Hannah plans to major in Biology and Chemistry and possibly pursue a minor in the languages. In her free time, you can find Hannah playing soccer, reading a book, and spending time with her friends.
|Alexandra Reyes grew up in San Antonio, Texas and graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis High School. Before coming to the Hilltop, she was an active member in marching, wind ensemble, and jazz bands and served as head drum major her senior year. The Mustang Band paired with a liberal, multidisciplinary education were the primary reasons she chose to attend SMU. Alexandra intends to double major in Geophysics and Biochemistry, and plans to pursue being an undergraduate research assistant. She is excited about her position as secretary of the Geology Club. While in high school, Alexandra was on the Youth Leadership Team at her church, and is looking forward to deepening her faith at the SMU Catholic Center. In her free time, Alexandra enjoys working out and reading, her favorite book being Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
|Hunter Robinson comes to SMU from Katy, Texas, and graduated with high honors from Katy High School. She chose SMU for its location, extensive research opportunities, and its emphasis on a personalized education. Hunter intends to major in Biology with a possible minor in Mathematics, as she wishes to pursue a career in biological research. In high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, participated in the American Sign Language Club, and was a member of her school’s soccer team for three years. Hunter was designated a National Merit Commended Scholar, and was recognized through her school for her success in AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, and AP Physics I. During the summers, Hunter volunteered for an organization that promotes inclusivity for children and adults with mental, physical, and/or cognitive disabilities. She worked closely with these individuals and wishes to become an advocate for them, as they are often overlooked by society.
|Catherine Schreiber spent her childhood in San Diego, California, but moved to Franklin, Tennessee for her high school years. She graduated from Battle Ground Academy where she was inducted into her school’s honor society, cum laude. She was also a part of the National Honor Society, a tutor in the writing center, and an AP scholar. She started a club called Life Skills and was also an active club member in both Poetry Friday and the Wildcat Humane Society. In her time away from school, she loves remaining active through sports and running. Catherine played varsity and club soccer for all four years of high school and was a team captain for both. She won the state championship with her high school team twice and earned several individual awards including all-district and all-region distinctions. She was selected by her coach to be a part of her high school’s Athletic Leadership program, where she was able to learn and coach others. She loved volunteering at Grace Works Ministries, a Christ-centered non-profit, where she helped to provide essentials to families in need. She also volunteered at the animal shelter and soccer camps every summer, where she coached younger children. Catherine was attracted to SMU by its small class sizes, proximity to a thriving city, and emphasis on education. She plans to major in Biology. She loves to travel, read, hike, and spend time with her friends and family. Some of her favorite books include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, We Were Liars, and Malibu Rising.
|Sana Shahid comes to SMU from Plano, Texas, where she graduated summa cum laude from Plano East Senior High School. SMU’s diverse range of academic opportunities, tightly-knit community, and proximity to home drew her to the hilltop. She plans to double major in Data Science and Business with a possible Spanish minor. In high school, Sana earned the honors of National Merit Scholar, AP Scholar with Distinction, 2023 Texas Youth Creator Award winner, and 2023 President Volunteer Service Award winner. Her leadership experience includes the Plano Public Library's Teen Advisory Board, Spanish Honor Society, Student Senate, National Honor Society, Key Club, Next Generation Nations, Muslim Student Association, and UNICEF. Sana loves to read, ice skate, be outside, play board games, and build puzzles in her free time. Her favorite book series is The Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman, which she admires for its layering and highlighting issues from modern society in a futuristic setting. She is excited to potentially study abroad, meet diverse groups of people, and represent the Dedman Scholars at SMU!
Dylan Stephenson grew up in Newport Beach, California and graduated from Corona Del Mar High School with honors in global studies. She received the AP Scholar with Distinction Award, AP Capstone Diploma, and was a recipient of Corona Del Mar’s Sea King Service award upon graduation. Outside of the classroom, Dylan played four years of high school tennis, was involved in Speech and Debate and Peer Assistance Leadership, volunteered at her local library, and served as the President of her school’s book club. At SMU, Dylan plans to major in International Studies on the Pre-Law track. Dylan was drawn to SMU because of the intimate class sizes, opportunities for students to be involved in academic and extracurricular activities, access to internships, and emphasis on conducting research. In her free time, Dylan enjoys playing tennis, skiing, spending time with friends and family, reading, and traveling. Her favorite book is Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and her favorite movie is Legally Blonde. She looks forward to meeting new people and exploring everything SMU has to offer.
|Isabella Thrailkill was born in Miami, Florida and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She chose SMU for its interdisciplinary freedom, the ability to customize her education, and the ability to partake in research as early as her first year. Isabella plans to major in Biology and Human Rights with a minor in Spanish. Isabella is excited to engage with SMU by joining multiple clubs and service organizations, attending the Tate Lecture Series, and enjoying SMU traditions, such as boulevarding. In high school, Isabella was a three-time state swimming champion, earned eleven varsity letters for cross country, swim, and track, and was twice named Academic All-State. Isabella was president of her school’s Debate Club and Spanish Club, vice president of her school’s chapter of the National Spanish Honor Society, an intern at the Zachry Construction Company, and a fellow with the Civics Unplugged program. She won the Sophia Gonzalez Foreign Language award, was named National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, and National Hispanic Scholar. During her summers Isabella loved to give back by assisting with the younger children on her swim team. Isabella loves to spend her free time reading, listening to music, and swimming. Her favorite book series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
|Arnav Vig was born and raised in Flower Mound, Texas. He plans to major in Economics with Financial Applications on the Pre-Law track. He graduated in the top ten percent of his Flower Mound High School class as an AP Scholar with Distinction and National Merit Commended Scholar. In high school, he was the President of the Let’s Talk About It Club, a member of NHS, and a violist in the orchestra for seven years. He also represented his school in the UIL Accounting state competition. Outside of school, he completed a research project over the Belt and Road Initiative while also blogging about various current affairs. He chose SMU for its small size, its research opportunities, and its interdisciplinary academics. He is a member of the University Honors Program, Dedman Scholars Program, and was a Presidential Scholar candidate. He has always loved reading, writing, and learning. He is also an avid cricket fan and music lover. His favorite band is One Direction, and his favorite TV show is Suits.