Meet us here first, and then say 'hey' IRL.

residential community Director (RCD)

Rena Gore

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Rena, our enthusiastic Residential Community Director (RCD) of our Commons, is from all over the East Coast (Maryland, North Carolina, and New York). She attended college and grad school in New Jersey. In college, Rena was a double major in Management and Marketing with a minor in Theater. She has been at SMU and a part of MHPS and her church for two years now. She comes most recently from Flagstaff, Arizona, where she also worked in Residence Life. In fact, her background in Residence Life is extensive: she has been working in Residence Life for the past ten years, and she truly enjoys what she does. She is passionate about building community and making everyone feel at home here. She loves when people stop by her office in Mary Hay just to say "hey!" She spends her free time couponing, shopping, and blowing bubbles. Her favorite drink is a chai tea latte (vanilla). 

faculty-in-residence (fIR)

Liljana Elverskog




Liljana is our cheerful and cultured FiR. She loves baking, biking, reading, movies, sewing, being involved with MHPS, and of course teaching! She is a Senior Lecturer of Arabic and the Arabic Area Chair and has taught Modern Standard Arabic in the United States at all levels for almost twenty years. She has taught Arabic at the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University, the Middlebury College Summer Language Program, the University of California, Santa Barbara, Brown University, and the University of North Texas. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University in May of 1999. Her dissertation, “Verb Morphology in Educated Spoken Arabic,” is a sociolinguistic study of verbal conjugation in this

form of spoken Arabic and its implications for the teaching of Arabic. She received her M.A. from the Khartoum International Institute for Arabic Language in the field of Teaching Arabic as a Second Language, and her BA from the University of Sarajevo. 

Don't miss visiting with her on Sundays! Nearly every Sunday from 8-9 pm, Liljana opens up her home in Mary Hay for Sunday Night Snacks, a weekly tradition. She mixes up what's on the menu, but MHPS residents have come to expect Liljana's famous chocolate chip cookies!  


Brittany Wright




Brittany is a first-year master's student studying Higher Education Administration. She recently graduated from the University of Central Arkansas, located in Conway, Arkansas. There she was involved in Greek life, Student Orientation Staff, and held an on-campus job. Her favorite activities are kick-boxing, hiking, and spending time with friends and family. Her choice of snacks/treats include: Starbucks' Caramel Frappe, Rolos, and any kind of chip. Brittany is excited to be at SMU, especially as her hometown of Prosper, Texas is so close-by. Fun fact: She is a twin! 

faculty affiliates (FA)

Johan Elverskog 

Teresa Brentegani 




Johan, a Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at SMU (and the husband of our FiR, Liljana), is the author and editor of numerous articles and books on the history of Inner Asia, which have won several awards and also been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Russian. His work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Research Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation, among others. He has also been a fellow at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, and the Käte-Hamburger Kolleg at Ruhr Universität.








Teresa, SMU-in-Lugano Program Director, is a member of the Department of World Languages and Literatures and Chair of the Italian area. She has taught beginning, intermediate and advanced Italian at SMU for over 15 years, as well as abroad on the SMU-in-Rome and Bologna program, which she also directed. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking authentic Italian food and spending time with friends. 

residential community chaplain (rcc)

Maxwell Urbina





Maxwell is from Managua, Nicaragua and he is happily married to Avelina Diaz de Urbina, Doctor in Medicine. He serves as our RCC for MHPS and brings over 17 years of ministry experience. He studied Pastoral Theology at the Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico and is currently earning his Master of Divinity at Perkins School of Theology at SMU. Prior to coming to SMU, he worked as a Church Pastor in California and Texas and as an Assistant Pastor in SDA West Conference in Puerto Rico, among other responsibilities. He has also participated in and led many mission trips. In his church now, he serves an anointed elder and music director. Maxwell has high-energy and loves to minister to young people (college folks!) and children. Maxwell is fluent in Spanish and English and has studied a bit of Greek and Hebrew too. He enjoys playing volleyball, Uno, and Dominoes, and he watches a lot of Christian movies and listens to a lot of Christian music. Maxwell can't wait to get to know MHPS residents through lobby chats and our programs.

Maxwell will regularly be in our Commons, eager to talk to anyone and everyone on Mondays from 1:00-3:00 pm and Tuesdays-Fridays from 9:00-11:00 am. 

He can be reached via phone at 469-777-1018 or by email at

commons council leadership team

Rebecca James, President

Trinity Sullivan, Spirit & Competition Coordinator

Sayed Gilani, Communication Coordinator

Margaret Ebinger, Event Coordinator

Rheanna Osbourne, Philanthropy Coordinator

Preston Werner, Special Projects Coordinator




 Rebecca, a sophomore Finance major, is from Spring Branch, Texas (you know by the bigger city, San Antonio, Texas). In addition to her involvement with Commons Council, she is involved with Alpha Chi Omega, Mustang Heroes, and Mustang11 at SMU. When she has time on her hands, Rebecca likes to craft, draw, paint, write poetry, read, and play her ukulele. Her favorite snack would be popcorn, and one day she aspires to swim with sharks, though she is afraid of spiders and Australia (google it). 










Trinity is a sophomore from Coppell, Texas, near Dallas. She is studying Statistics and World Languages at SMU, and after she graduates, she aspires to work for the Peace Corps or another non-profit. Currently, she is involved in Mustang11, Orientation Leaders (yes, you might remember her!), Cru, The Bridge, and Readers2Leaders. She loves to sing, volunteer, play intramurals, and meet new people. Trinity's go-to treats are snickers and iced caramel macchiatos. A fun fact is that she competed in Taekwondo for 13 years! Talk about this with her over a meal at Umph! 











Sayed, a junior from Corona, California, got involved with Commons Council after transferring in to SMU last year.  At SMU, Sayed studies Health & Society (major) and Music (minor) and he is involved with The Daily Campus, SMU Mustang Bang, and SMU Film Club. Hoping one day to be a film screenwriter, Sayed now enjoys film, music, videogames, playing all kinds of musical instruments (clarinet, drums, piano, electric bass), screenwriting and composing music. On his bucket list is going to the Oscars (we believe in you, Sayed!). 








A sophomore Public Policy major from Michigan, Margaret is involved with Belle Tones on-campus and also works in the Residence Life & Student Housing office. Margaret enjoys singing, cooking, and, like most college students, watching Neflix. Unlike most college students, Margaret does not rely on coffee to get her through busy days - in fact, she is allergic! Instead, she drinks lots of iced passion tea and enjoys Chex Mix. When she has 30 minutes to kill, she will happily go to Dedman to work out, so catch Margaret there!   










Rheanna is a sophomore studying English, Political Science, History and Law & Legal Reasoning. Her goal is to be an entertainment lawyer (sounds fun!) one day... and did we mention that Rheanna is from Los Angeles, California? Yep. Rheanna loves hiking, bike riding, traveling, and dancing. At SMU, she is involved in Mustang Heroes and Gamma Phi Beta. She loves Sour Patch and eating Sour Patch while watching shows on Netflix, especially That 70s Show









Preston, from Austin, Texas, is a sophomore studying Business and Photography at SMU. He is also a founder of Le Cordon SMeU with Hary and he has been most involved with MHPS in his time here. He is usually present at every Sunday Night Snacks and often helps Liljana in preparing treats, like tiramisu, for these weekly traditions. Other than cooking or baking, Preston enjoys photography (he runs his own photography business on the side!), music, art, and graphic design. A white chocolate mocha from Starbucks is his guilty pleasure, especially paired with a Hostess chocolate cupcake. When he has 30 minutes to kill, his favorite thing to do is "beat Hary in a game of pool." Maybe challenge him the next time you see him in the Peyton Parlor. 


MARY HAY Resident assistants

Eston White, First Floor RA

Zubaida (Zee) Aslam, Second Floor RA


Maggie Sloan, Third Floor RA

Curtis Faulkner, Fourth Floor RA




Eston, a third-year RA, is a senior from Richardson, Texas, majoring in Psychology. He comes from a family of seven with seven pets. His hobbies include watching movies, hanging out with friends, eating Whataburger, and listening to N’Sync, One Direction, and Boyz II Men while watching an endless stream of Parks and Rec. Yes, they happen at the same time. Students organizations he is involved in include BYX Fraternity and Best Buddies. He loves being an RA because it provides the perfect opportunity to create a fun living environment for SMU students. He can’t wait to make his last year as an RA the best!








Zee, born in Pakistan, is a first-year RA who has grown up in Irving, Texas. She is a junior Biology major and Chemistry minor with dreams of becoming an Oncologist. At SMU, she is especially involved with the Muslim Student Association and she studies Arabic. Zee can actually speak four languages - talk about impressive! Zee enjoys bike riding, swimming, playing card/board games, and watching horror movies, and M&M's and spicy chips are her favorite snacks. A fun fact about her is that she serves as an EMT!  








First-year RA, Maggie is a sophomore studying Psychology and Advertising with a plan to go to law school one day. She claims New Jersey and Katy, Texas as her home bases. At SMU, Maggie has been involved with Commons Council, Best Buddies, and Hilltop. She loves sports, drawing, Cheetos, Hershey's Kisses, and black tea lemonade. A fun fact she likes to share is that she has slept in all 50 states (sleeping there is important, because otherwise, as she says, it could be easy to say you've been to a state just by driving through it!). 









Curtis, a senior and second-year RA, from Austin, Texas, studies Acting and Musical Theatre at SMU. He keeps himself busy by being involved in SMU Student Theatre, Southern Gentlemen, Spectrum, the Association of Black Students, and SMU Naturals, and he is a Rotunda Academic Scholar. His favorite hobbies are dancing, singing in the Commons, and mountain hiking.  

peyton resident assistants

Sidney Eichelberger, First Floor RA

Gabriella (Gabi) Smith, Second Floor RA

Ryan Mendez, Third Floor RA




Dallas, Texas native, Sidney is a junior Biomedical Engineering student. He is also studying Philosophy, Mathematics, and Mechanical Engineering as minors. Sidney is involved with Engaged Learning and Undergraduate Research. In fact, he works in a chemical research lab. Sidney enjoys swimming, basketball, water polo, the outdoors, and music. He'd be happy with anything involving oatmeal or dark chocolate, but he is lactose intolerant.   










Gabriella, or Gabi, is a junior from Southlake, Texas. At SMU, she is studying Visual Art, Economics, and Creative Writing. When she's not in the classroom, Gabi can be found working on her photography skills, writing, watching films, or napping. Gabi is also involved in SMU's Rowing Team. She grew up in Mexico and she wishes to someday go to South Africa and to learn multiple languages. 









Ryan is a junior from Durant, Oklahoma, studying Finance and Applied Physiology with a dream career of owning his own gym. Ryan got involved with Commons Council during his first-year at SMU, and as a sophomore, he served as its Chief-of-Staff. Due to an opening, he also joined the RA team in January 2018, so he has one semester of being an RA under his belt. Ryan is involved with the SMU Wesley House, Student Foundation, and Mustang Heroes, and he is a player on many intramural sports teams. He loves working out, reading, spending time with friends, and playing sports. Though his biggest pet peeve is when people smack their food, Ryan also loves Nature Valley protein bars. A fun fact about Ryan is that he is an accomplished Eagle Scout - kudos, Ryan! Find him out on the Quad throwing a football. 

shuttles resident assistants

Cristina Dondiego, First Floor RA

Hary Sirivore, Second Floor RA

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Greg Guggenmos, Third Floor RA

Emily Zhang, Fourth Floor RA




A second-year RA, Cristina, who is a junior from Dallas, Texas, studies International Studies. She is also planning on minoring in Spanish. At SMU, Cristina is involved with College Hispanic American Studies and the SMU Retail Club. In her free time, she loves exploring Dallas, eating avocado toast or applesauce, browsing through Instagram for outfit inspiration, taking photos, working at Salon Pompeo, and shopping. Yoga is also a favorite of hers, and Cristina hopes to one day climb a mountain. 








Hary is a sophomore Finance and Statistics double-major from Carrollton, Texas. He jumps for any and every opportunity to be involved within SMU and MHPS and otherwise get to know people on a personal basis. In addition to serving as an RA, Hary is involved with the Entrepreneurship Club, Tango Tab, the Real Estate Club, and Mustang Theme Park Design. He also founded Le Cordon SMeU, a baking club, in his first-year at SMU. Of course, his hobbies include cooking, but he also enjoys tennis and racquetball. Hary's favorite go-to snack is watermelon Sour Patch Kids. A fun fact about Hary is that he is the uncle of a 26 year old. 







Greg, an ambitious senior and a second-year RA from Garland, Texas, is working on his BS in Statistical Sciences, his minors in History and Computer Science, and his MS in Applied Statistics and Data Analytics. He is involved with Mustang Heroes. Greg enjoys rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, urban exploring, and reading the Economist magazine. He cannot eat milk, cheese, butter, or chocolate - so don't try to tempt him. He does enjoy Starbuck's Pike's Place Roast (no sugar, no cream of course). He has a goal to someday memorize a whole deck of cards in less than five minutes. Ask Greg about his backpacking adventures! 








A second-year RA, Emily is a junior from Denver, Colorado. Her major is in Chemistry and she is minoring in Human Rights and Women and Gender Studies. Emily is involved in Best Buddies and Gamma Phi Beta. Her favorite pastimes are working out, sleeping, and playing her ukelele. A fun fact about Emily is that she used to have a pet hedgehog and multiple pet hermit crabs; if she were allowed to have them here, we bet she would. Emily's favorite snack is Starbursts candy and she loves to "talk life" so don't be afraid to reach out. 

peer leaders

Trinity Sullivan, Peer Academic Leader (PAL) 

Maggie Cook-Allen, Peer Honors Mentor




Trinity looks familiar, doesn't she? Yes, she served as an Orientation Leader, but also she's listed above as a member of Commons Council Exec... the girl does it all!

In case you missed it, Trinity is a sophomore from Coppell, Texas, near Dallas. She is studying Statistics and World Languages at SMU, and after she graduates, she aspires to work for the Peace Corps or another non-profit. Currently, she is involved in Mustang11, Orientation Leaders, Cru, The Bridge, and Readers2Leaders. She loves to sing, volunteer, play intramurals, and meet new people. Trinity's go-to treats are snickers and iced caramel macchiatos. A fun fact is that she competed in Taekwondo for 13 years! Talk about this with her over a meal at Umph! 









Maggie comes from Lexington, Kentucky and she is a sophomore studying Political Science and Philosophy. Probably not surprising, Maggie dreams of being a Constitutional Lawyer. She is involved in SMU Speech and Debate and Sigma Phi Lambda. Favorite hobbies of hers include painting, drawing, playing guitar, and watching Netflix. For coffee, her choice is a decaf mocha. Things on her bucket list include: win a debate tournament, become a Supreme Court Justice, and have a building named after her one day. Go grab coffee with her at Fondren and tell her what's on yours!