Tell anyone outside of the capital area you go to school in Austin, and city-envy ensues. It’s trendy. The economy is hot. The live music reputation is second-to-none. It’s got amazing parks, great restaurants and incredible festivals, not to mention a vibe that no other city can match.

But there are reasons well beyond the cool factor that make Austin a great place to go to school — and home to St. Edward’s. Think internships at one of the city’s startup incubators. Professors who aren’t just teaching about the city’s arts scene but actually are the scene. Research opportunities at a 227-acre wilderness preserve just miles from campus. Service opportunities that connect students to the heart of the city.

The list could go well beyond these 44 highlights, but we hope you’ll check out just a few of the ways our students are taking advantage of all that the city has to offer.

Mattison Bills standing next to BBQ oven

1. Theater Design students again competed in 2nd Street’s Holiday Window Walk, an annual downtown store-window design competition that has netted scholarships for 15 students through the years.

2. Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn wrote about Mum Foods, co-owned by Environmental Science and Policy major Mattison Bills ’14. Vaughn called the Austin-based company’s pastrami “the Platonic ideal of Texas pastrami.”

3. Video Game Development majors Audrey Alexander ’18 and Celestina Macereno ’18 designed digital game experiences for the Austin-based non-profit HealthStart, which help model healthy food and fitness habits for children ages three to six.

4. Wild Basin, the 227-acre Hill Country wilderness preserve jointly owned by St. Edward’s University and Travis County, was named to the 2018 Best of Austin list in the Sports and Recreation category by the Austin Chronicle.

5. Austin was named the number one city on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Places to Live” list in 2018.

Student running with Austin skyline in background

6. Assistant Professor of Sculpture and Ceramics Tammie Rubin participated in a 6-week outdoor installation at The Museum of Human Achievement in Austin, in which she set up her studio in a caged trailer, allowing her art making to be open and visible to the public.

7. Rubin is also being featured in a solo exhibit at Women and Their Work in Austin, which runs from Nov. 17 through Jan. 10, 2019.

8. School of Natural Sciences Dean Gary A. Morris and Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Paul Walter launched specially instrumented weather balloons from campus to study ozone pollution. The project has been funded by the Capital Area Council for Governments and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

9. Five St. Edward’s alumni swept “Teacher of the Year” awards in Del Valle ISD, making a difference in the greater-Austin community.

10. Megan Tillman ’14 and Chris Beale ’12 are making their mark in Austin’s legendary music scene. Their band, Magna Carda, was recently named “Best Hip Hop Artist” at the 2018 Austin Music Awards.

Magna Carda

11. Professor of Political Science Brian Smith was the go-to expert for many Austin television stations during the fractious election season — he was interviewed more than 18 times.

12. School of Human Development and Education students and Associate Professor of Literacy Elizabeth Johnson meet weekly at Austin-based St. Elmo Elementary School to learn by practicing research-based teaching strategies related to literacy instruction and lesson plan development.

13. The Bill Munday School of Business brings to campus keynote speakers from national organizations, including the CEO of Office Depot and a brand strategist for Google’s Unskippable Labs, to discuss leadership, management and innovation in the 21st century. 

14. Approximately 70 students participate in S.E.R.V.E. Austin each semester, which coordinates ongoing weekly commitments at locations like Central Texas Food Bank, Casa Marianella and Keep Austin Beautiful.

15. Each year St. Edward’s hosts the annual Texas Teen Book Festival, organized by the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople and local librarians. The event has brought dozens of well-known authors to campus, including actor and writer Mindy Kaling and New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone.

Students with 3-Day Start Up award certificates

16. 40 students across majors pitched their innovative business ideas to local Austin entrepreneurs and investors during 3 Day Startup, a program that gives participants the hands-on experience of starting a company.

17. The Writers’ League of Texas holds workshops on campus for Austin’s writing community that cover everything from “Concocting Livelier, More Interesting Prose” to “Publishing 101: What Authors Need to Know About the Publishing Business.”

18. Chelsea Elliott ’12, founder and executive director of the half-Helen Foundation, has screened more than 35,000 children in two states and developed a treatment-tracking app thanks to a $100,000 grant from the St. David’s Foundation.

19. Each fall, graduate and undergraduate Accounting students get tips from practicing accountants from across the field — KPMG to the Texas State Auditor’s Office — as part of a “How to Succeed in Accounting” retreat.

20. The Student Government Association hosted The BIG Event, a day of service that sends volunteers to Austin nonprofits like the Healing with Horses Ranch and River City Youth Foundation.

21. This fall, Jeff Miner ’11, brand strategist at Brand Lab for Google, visited campus to talk about how his time on the hilltop prepared him for a career at one of the world’s leading tech companies.

22. Students in Associate Professor of Art Alex Robinson’s Drawing Methods class visit Austin art studios and take a walking-drawing tour through a neighborhood.

23. Every summer, a group of St. Edward’s students is funded by H-E-B grocery and Enterprise Rent-A-Car to complete paid internships. This year 7 students were selected to work at local organizations, including Caritas of Austin, Latinitas, PeopleFund, and Kids in a New Groove.

24. Students across all majors pitch creative ideas for new businesses, apps, products and services in iChallenge on the Hilltop: Ideas for Innovation, a pitch competition sponsored by The Bill Munday School of Business. 

25. As a part of her Grant Writing course, Writing and Rhetoric major Genevia Kanu ’19 wrote a grant that won $20,000 benefiting Austin nonprofit Six Square.

St. Edward's students at Impact Hub

26. In addition to Capital Factory, The Bill Munday School of Business cultivates partnerships with groups like Austin Inno, Southwest Angel Network, Austin Technology Council, Impact Hub Austin and POSiBLE ATX, an entrepreneurship summit hosted by Univision.

27. S.E.R.V.E. 1 Day brings together approximately 100 students from St. Edward’s one Saturday each month to volunteer at five different sites across the city.

28. The Consulate General of Mexico visited the College Assistance Migrant Program, where students have interned in previous years.

29. Art major Brittany Fucik ’18 cares for art exhibits at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport as part of her art coordination internship. She says the experience is a good introduction to what it would be like to work at a museum or gallery and is giving her graphic design experience.

30. Wild Basin Creative Research Center at St. Edward’s University is leading Austin Wildlife Watch, the city’s biodiversity monitoring initiative, by installing 26 motion-sensitive cameras in green spaces across the city.

Students & professors launch weather balloon on campus

31. School of Natural Sciences students Elias Bocanegra ’20, Grace Akomeogho ’18, and Matthew Villarreal ’19 helped St. Edward’s scientists launch a series of weather balloons that produced the only source of sounding data available for Central and Southeast Texas during Hurricane Harvey. The data collected was used by the National Weather Service in 33 counties across Texas.

32. The School of Human Development and Education has partnered with Del Valle Independent School District to bring junior and senior education majors into Del Valle middle and high schools — hands-on experiences that go far beyond the state mandates for teacher certification.

33. Local Austin artist and alumna Kaci Beeler ’09 exhibited her hyper-realistic paintings of food at the Fine Arts Gallery on campus. Beeler is part of the five year anniversary celebrating alumni exhibitions.

34. Ali Dadpay, acting chair of the Finance and Economics Department, lent his economics expertise to High Five Events and conducted an economic impact study for the organization on the Austin Marathon.

35. Through his Capital Factory internship, Biochemistry major Joseph Ramirez ’19 co-founded YOUnite, a nonprofit for undocumented students (Carlos Alpuche ’18, Ricardo Apanco-Sarabia ’19, Gloria Perez ’17 are co-founders).

Students perform Cabaret at MMNT

36. Each year, local professional actors and production artists work alongside student Theatre Arts majors to stage four outstanding plays in the Mary Moody Northern Theatre. Recent hits include Cabaret, Romeo and Juliet, and Pride and Prejudice.

37. School of Natural Sciences students Elias Bocanegra ’20, Grace Akomeogho ’18, and Matthew Villarreal ’19 helped St. Edward’s scientists launch a series of weather balloons that produced the only source of sounding data available for Central and Southeast Texas during Hurricane Harvey. The data collected was used by the National Weather Service in 33 counties across Texas.

38. Maya Boehm was named as chair of the College Student Commission for the City of Austin. The commission advises the Austin city council on issues concerning issues affecting the quality of life for higher education students in the Austin area.

39. St. Edward’s University partners with Capital Factory to provide memberships for seven students in the School of Natural Sciences and The Bill Munday School of Business each semester, giving them access to some of the city's top entrepreneurs, investors and startup resources.

40. Student organization REACH OUT partnered with Austin groups like St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church and Mobile Loaves & Fishes to host the annual Homeless Resource Fair — more than 400 homeless Austinites attended.

41. Students get an up-close look at politics and government, thanks to the university’s location in the state capital.

42. Assistant Professor of Social Work Laurie Cook Heffron is on the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking steering committee and the Allies Against Slavery advisory board — she also frequently works with Refugee Services of Texas, the Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault at the University of Texas at Austin, and a host of immigration attorneys serving immigrants who have experienced violence and exploitation.

43. Associate Professor of Special Education Leslie Loughmiller and 18 Education students hosted Breakthrough Central Texas elementary students for three Saturdays during the fall semester to build a path through college for students from low-income communities.

44. St. Edward’s partners with the City of Austin Innovation Office and Open Austin to host the annual ATX Hack for Change, which brings technology enthusiasts together to solve community problems by creating websites, apps and online tools.