The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything this semester, but couldn’t stop our 2020 grads. They pivoted to remote classes and continued to learn, create and achieve. Now these architects of our future are ready for new challenges in corporate careers, public service or graduate school. They say SMU changed their lives. We can’t wait to see how they’ll change our world.
“I am really satisfied with my SMU experience, because I was unsure of what I wanted to do when I first came to college. I had some ideas, but I did not really know what they would look like in practice. SMU allowed me to try so many new things and supported my intellectual curiosity. Looking back, it is really cool to see all that I have accomplished.”
MONICA LEE ’20 has two majors (finance and anthropology) and two minors (creative computing and international studies). She will be an analyst at J.P. Morgan Private Bank after she graduates.
“I love the sense of community and values that SMU offers. Its academic reputation provides students the opportunity to be around talented peers that challenge them to do their best.”
TOM BUNING ’20 graduates with his Ed.D. in Higher Education from the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. In the future, he’d like to take on a senior leadership role.
“I encourage students to speak to everyone they meet on campus. Everyone brings their own unique backgrounds, and I think you can learn a lot just by interacting with them.”
CHANCE BUNING ’20, an Applied Physiology & Sport Management major, came to SMU – where his dad works – as a transfer student. After graduation, Chance plans to work in sports management.
“SMU is such a great resource because it’s so ingrained into the professional landscape of a top-tier city like Dallas. The University’s connections to the Dallas business world are invaluable. While other schools in Texas are looking to get you to Dallas and the jobs there, SMU is Dallas. It just opens so many wonderful doors.”
MARY MEEHAN ’20, accounting major and women’s soccer standout, was invited by the Chicago Red Stars, a National Women’s Soccer League team, to participate in its preseason training. She also landed an internship and job offer at PwC in Dallas, and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in accounting at SMU.
“SMU’s central location in the great city of Dallas makes it possible for students to engage within this remarkable community. This engagement can take place in the form of volunteer work, internships or work experience. The possibilities are endless.”
SANAA GHANIM ’20, a double major in human rights and English, received a full-ride scholarship to attend SMU Dedman School of Law this fall. Research fellowship awards from SMU enabled her in-depth study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – including travel to the United Kingdom to work with a top scholar in that field. In 2018, she used prize money from SMU’s Big iDeas competition to found Give A Pencil, a nonprofit that distributes school supplies to Title I schools in Dallas.
“At SMU, interaction with my kind, hardworking Lyle School of Engineering peers taught me the value of community and a much better perspective on work and life. I developed close relationships with my professors, who remain mentors to this day.”
EMILY ELSON '19, '20 completed her master’s degree in environmental engineering as part of SMU’s 4+1 Program while working full-time as a water and wastewater infrastructure engineer at the multinational engineering firm AECOM. As an undergraduate, she met her future boss at SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering career fair.
“Be sure to take advantage of the abundant resources and the small size of the University to foster a sense of community, as this will only increase the opportunities already in the palm of your hand. By the time you’re a senior looking back at your four years, you’ll be astounded by how much possibility you were surrounded by.”
SUNJOLI AGGARWAL ’20, is a President’s Scholar who completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science through SMU’s 4+1 program and graduated with honors in liberal arts. A 2019 internship at Microsoft helped her land a job as a software engineer in the company’s new Artificial Intelligence Development Acceleration Program at its New England Research and Development center.
“At SMU, there’s an abundance of research opportunities for undergraduates. You can be a part of scientific exploration in any discipline, improve your writing and communication skills, be mentored by a professor and receive compensation.”
DYLAN COLBERT ’20, double major in electrical and computer engineering and mathematics, is one of several undergraduates who conducted research about drone communication. After graduation, he will start working as a validation engineer at Texas Instruments in Dallas, and complete his master’s degree as part of SMU’s 4+1 program.
“Come to SMU. You will be challenged in ways you didn’t think you needed to be challenged, make lifelong friends and learn more than ever before.”
DARIAN TAYLOR ’20, double major in corporate communications and public affairs and public policy, landed a job as an immersion associate with Edelman, a leading public relations and marketing firm based in Chicago.
“SMU fosters an environment in which you can strive for your greatest potential while always knowing there is someone in your corner. While at SMU, I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I once thought I was.”
DANIEL ALVARADO ’20, an SMU Dedman School of Law graduate, gained corporate law insights during an externship at Vistra Energy Corp., a Fortune 500 firm based in North Texas. He landed the opportunity thanks to SMU’s Corporate Counsel Externship Program. This summer, he will sit for the Texas Bar exam and explore job opportunities in Dallas.
“My experiences at SMU have been broad and all-encompassing. I found opportunities to conduct and present my own research, have a work-study job, fully fund my study-abroad experience and volunteer with the local community. Coming into college, I didn't think I would have the time to delve so deeply into all my interests. However, SMU has just so much to offer, and encourages students to balance their academics with other pursuits.”
SIDDHAKSHI SOLANKI ’20, a pre-med double major in biology and French, stood out when applying for competitive fellowships and grants because of her interdisciplinary interests. After graduation, she plans to mentor and help bridge the learning gap as a City Year AmeriCorps member before entering medical school.
“I am so proud of my education at SMU Perkins School of Theology, which has provided me with the skills to confidently step into the next season of my life and prayerfully effect change. Professors emphasized the importance of asking quality questions and to avoid oversimplifying the complexity of theology. I am prepared to wrestle with the tension that arises when answers are hard to come by, and to see each individual as a full image-bearer of God.”
SARAH BILAYE-BENIBO ’20 receives her Master of Sacred Music degree in May. After graduation, she will become the worship pastor at Embassy City Church in Irving, Texas.
SMU’s Commencement ceremony has been postponed to Saturday, August 15, when we’ll celebrate our graduates with all the pomp and circumstance they deserve. Although the event date has moved, degrees will still be conferred on May 16 so that this class of newly minted SMU alumni can begin their careers or continue their academic journeys.
August Commencement announcement
What makes SMU so special? Find out from our grads and faculty sharing their “Stories From The Hilltop.”