SMU Leading Ladies: Karly Zrake

SMU prides itself on "World Changers Shaped Here" and junior Karly Zrake is no short of that title.

Karly is a junior from San Diego, California double-majoring in human rights and anthropology with a minor in education. She's a member of Alpha Chi Omega and a Dedman College Scholar, where she serves on prospective and admitted student panels as part of the Dedman College Ambassadors. She's also very involved with the Embrey Human Rights Program as the Administrative Director for the Student Leadership Initiative. On top of all of that, she's been selected as a Mustang Corral Guide for the third consecutive summer this coming August!

We had a chance to ask Karly some question about her busy and exciting life:

HCSMU: What do you do for fun?

Karly Zrake: Whenever I am home, my favorite thing to do is go for long walks on the beach with my mom (yes, I realize that sounds cliché!)  I have also gotten into running since coming to college, which has been a great stress reliever.  I always have a song in my head, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find me singing to myself or dancing at any point of the day.

HCSMU: Can you tell me more about the Embry Human Rights Student Leadership Initiative? What does the organization represent or do for and with the community? Have you discovered anything about yourself from working with the organization?

KZ: The Student Leadership Initiative serves as the student extension of the Embrey Human Rights Program. We oversee all student organizations as well as manage outreach, programming, and foster community within the human rights program. The board seeks to empower students to engage with human rights issues on campus and in the Dallas community. I serve as the administrative director, and while the SLI board consists of several directorships, general members can get involved by coming to our events, which include Human Rights Hangouts and educational programs, among many others. I joined as a sophomore and am lucky enough to be going into my third year with the board because SLI has connected me to passionate students who truly want to make a difference. It has been inspiring to learn more about what students and other organizations are doing on campus and in the community, and has definitely pushed me to better myself and more confidently share my opinions.  

HCSMU: What has been your favorite class so far at SMU and why?

KZ: I’ve taken so many awesome classes during my three years hear, but I’d have to say my favorite was Race and Ethnicity in the United States (SOCI 3305) with Lucas Kirkpatrick.  Throughout the course, we studied the construction and implications of race in the US.  I am really passionate about human rights in our country, and I find race relations especially fascinating, so this class was right up my alley.  We read the book, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, and it absolutely blew my mind—I would definitely recommend it.

HCSMU: What does your dream future look like?

KZ: When I think about the future, the most important thing is that I’m making an impact with whatever I am involved. I plan on going to grad school, either for human rights, specifically, or some type of communications/broadcasting.  I really believe in making human rights issues accessible to the general public and educating people in a way that accounts for their background, experiences, and beliefs. 

HCSMU: What's on your bucket list?

KZ: This may surprise people, but I’m actually a pretty adventurous person.  I would love to go skydiving, repel down a building, and travel around the world, seeing every continent and all five oceans.  I definitely want to visit all 50 states, and I’ve always been enthralled with New York and Boston, so I think it would be exciting to live in one of those places for some period time. 

HCSMU: Do you have any advice for younger students?

KZ: The time at SMU just flies by so I definitely encourage students to take advantage of all SMU has to offer.  There are so many exciting opportunities to get involved with, so don’t be afraid to try something new and put yourself out there—you can always pull back if you realize something isn’t for you.  On that note, involve yourself in activities that make you happy and where you can make a difference.  Because there is only so much time at SMU, do what you want to do—don’t feel obligated to do things for other people if they don’t bring you joy.  Also, build relationships with your professors.  We’ve got some awesome faculty here with fascinating stories, and we can learn so much from them, even outside of the classroom.

HCSMU: How will you make the most of your last year at SMU?

KZ: It’s crazy to think I’ve only got a year left—there’s still so much I want to do!  My roommate and I are going to make a senior year bucket list to make sure no part of SMU and Dallas that we want to experience remains unexplored.  I definitely want to invest time and make memories with the people I love here before we pony out!