Here we go, Mustangs!
A 19-year-old law grad with a penchant for policy and an 85-year-old film major launching a new career. These are just two of the Mustangs breaking the mold and charting their personal paths to life’s next chapter.
Breaking age barriers
A nearly seven-decade age difference didn’t matter when Haley Taylor Schlitz, 19, and Marillyn Seeberger, 85, met up to talk about their student experiences. Schlitz will graduate with a J.D., becoming SMU’s youngest-ever law school graduate. Sixty-eight years after graduating from high school, Seeberger is fulfilling her dream by earning a B.A. in film and media arts with plans to write screenplays.
Ryan Booth ’22
“My favorite SMU memory was having the entire debate team help me prepare for the final round of the World Championship of IPDA [International Public Debate Association] debate and then winning the title for my team and school. It was a huge moment, not only for myself, but also for the team; we had been building for this for the past four years.”
Ryan Booth grew up in Alamo, California, and graduates with a BBA in finance and and a B.A. in political science. He made history by winning SMU’s first international debate title. Thanks to encouragement from his professors in the Cox School of Business, he’ll work on a master’s degree in business analytics at SMU next year.
Empowered by her passion for change
Cinthia Resendez ’21, ’22 wrapped up her M.S. in accounting after receiving a BBA in accounting and a B.A. in Spanish from SMU last year. The Dallasite says finding her “passion for creating and aiding change” has been surprising and fulfilling. Over the summer, Resendiz will be studying for her CPA exam, and in September, she will join PwC as an audit associate in the Dallas office.
Isabelle Galko ’22
“The mentorship and support I’ve received from SMU are unparalleled. I’ve been able to do undergraduate research through the Richter Fellowship, worked on renewable energy policy for the city of Dallas as a Tower Scholar, and received a Marshall Scholarship to continue studying climate change and environmental policy in graduate school in the UK.”
Isabelle Galko spent some time in Australia as a child but considers Austin, Texas, her hometown. She graduates with a B.S. in environmental science. As a Marshall Scholar next year, she plans to use her time in the UK “to link science with effective policy and gain a British perspective for future policymaking.”
Nia Kamau ’22
“The research funding and mentorship at SMU are incredible; through the school's support, I have been able to get published in an academic journal; conduct research interviews with African members of Parliament, and so much more! Opportunities like these are common across campus, but they aren't something I hear my peers at other schools experiencing.”
Nia Kamau hails from Little Elm, Texas, and graduates with a B.A. in human rights and a B.A. in international studies. With the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, she will pursue a master’s of public policy degree at Yale University's Jackson School for Global Affairs. Afterward, she will serve as a foreign service officer as part of her fellowship.
Finding endless opportunities
Olivia Ramirez ’22 has an enviable problem: too many great memories of her student years to pick a favorite. Ramirez grew up in Austin, Texas, and will graduate with a B.A. in studio art and a B.A. in advertising with a specialization in digital media strategy, which she’ll put to work as a celebrity and influencer coordinator at The Marketing Arm, a Dallas advertising agency.
Abena Marfo ’22
“My advice for any high school students considering SMU is to not count yourself out before you even apply. There is a strong community here waiting to shower you with support, care and love. And once you’re at SMU, you’ll be encouraged to dip your toe into anything that you find yourself drawn to; hence why I am leaving this institution with three different degrees.”
Abena Marfo grew up in Dallas and is graduating with a B.S. in sociology, a B.S. in health and society and a B.A. in human rights. She’ll continue her studies at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health as a candidate for a master’s in public health. She’s leaving a lasting legacy on the Hilltop as a co-founder of SMU’s First-Generation Association and by co-leading the implementation of a distinctive stole to be worn with their graduation regalia by first-gen students for years to come.
Making a world of difference
Outgoing Student Body President Austin Hickle ’22 led change on campus by listening, persuading, motivating and championing causes he cared about. He capped his term by rallying the Student Senate to unanimously approve the establishment of two new need-based scholarships to make an SMU education more accessible to students with significant financial need.
“Creating positive and lasting change, change that actually impacts the lives of people who have been adversely affected by inequality and injustice, is my passion,” he says. “But this goal is hard to achieve. It takes not just passion, but also time.”
He’ll graduate with a B.A. in economics and a B.A. in public policy.
What’s next for this future policymaker?
Hear Austin Hickle ’22 discuss his post-graduation plans fueled by Fulbright and Truman scholarships.