His tie was bright red. His shirt was deep blue. Calm, collected and confident, James Daniels shook the hands of a panel of decision-makers before taking a seat.
With James’ application for admission and letters of recommendation strewn across the table before them, the panelists pointedly asked James: “Why Southern Methodist University?” James smiled. He knew exactly what he wanted to say.
As a result of this interview, Daniels, who earned his associate of science degree from Brookhaven College in May, earned one of 10 full-ride transfer scholarships to SMU in the fall.
Involved in student government, Phi Theta Kappa, STEM Club, and possibly another student organization – “I’m sure there was another one. I was so busy, I don’t remember,” he tried to recall – James was not a stranger to speaking in front of audiences. However, when he was chosen for an interview for the scholarship, he enlisted the help of the Career Development Center.
The department’s Annette Wilson and Adam Clawson drilled the scholarship hopeful by staging a realistic mock panel interview, then providing constructive criticism about his answers and mannerisms. The aspiring medical student was coached to condense his answers to be more concise, clasp his hands in front of him on the table while speaking to keep from talking with his hands, and to smile – when you smile, they smile back, Annette and Adam had told him.
“They were awesome. If I hadn’t gone, I’d have crashed and burned. They drilled me in a panel style,” James said. “They weren’t easy about it – it was realistic.”
The mock interview also helped James consider how he would answer certain questions. In fact, the first question he was asked during the real interview, the “Why SMU?” question, was one Annette asked during the mock interview.
“I really struggled with that question during the mock interview, but afterward, I worked on it and perfected my answer,” James said. “Thanks to the mock interview, the real thing felt relaxed and natural,” he said.
It’s good he was prepared. All other questions during the real interview focused on his answer to the “Why SMU?” question, he said.
A bright student, James was one of only 25 students chosen for an interview for the North Texas Community College Scholarship. Students cannot apply for the coveted scholarship; nominees are chosen by SMU from the pool of community college transfer applicants each year. To be chosen for an interview, a student’s application for admission must stand out and impress the committee.
James also is a semi-finalist for the Tylenol Future Healthcare Provider Scholarship and will know later this month if he receives the $10,000 scholarship.
James also recognizes Brookhaven College employees Chad Price, academic advisor, and Sheri Van Court, Phi Theta Kappa advisor; and former employee Yasaman Contractor, student government advisor, for their support and encouragement.