Accustomed to pushing through challenges, Seymoné Simmons is a model for determination in the face of obstacles. Simmons was recently honored in a profile by her university, the University of Lynchburg, for her achievements while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in both criminology and music, with a minor in criminal forensics.
Ultimately, her success rests on a belief of never giving up, accepting challenges, and working through adversity no matter what.
BATTLING ADVERSITY with Grit
Simmons’s determination and perseverance is what drove her through the end of high school and her undergraduate years.
One of her professors, Dr. Jimmy Roux, honored her grit by giving her the “Baroness Pontalba Perseverance Award,” named for a woman who survived extreme domestic violence and still became a successful businesswoman, working as an architect and real estate developer.
Simmons has also experienced difficulties from a young age, enduring poverty, bullying, and abuse for most of her school years. On top of all this, Simmons found out during her junior year of high school that she was pregnant.
This could have derailed Simmons’s plans, but she had wanted to go to college since she was eight years old, and she wanted to provide the best life she could for her son, Kendrick.
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Throughout her remaining years in high school and her college career, Simmons has not only succeeded in her goals but exceeded all expectations.
In high school, she went to school for half days, spent time with her son, completed her homework, and remained a member of the marching band, with her son strapped “on chest, ready to go,” she says. She graduated with honors and three college acceptances.
Simmons had seen such determination in the women around her who continued to inspire her. Her role model is her mom, Tomekia. "She is one of the most fearless, intellectual, hardworking females I have ever known in my life."
Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
Simmons often reminds herself to step outside of her comfort zone. "Leadership means being comfortable with the uncomfortable and being able to listen holistically while being understanding." She continues to do just that – and to succeed in her endeavors.
During her college years, she worked multiple jobs (six at one point) to pay for daycare and help her mom. She helped her younger brother with homework, served as publicity chair for Lynchburg’s chapter of the NSLS, and public relations officer of Lynchburg’s chapter of Collegiate Virginia Music Educators Association.
She didn’t stop there, either. Simmons added extracurricular activities to her load, playing in the clarinet choir, steel drum ensemble, and pep band, completing an internship at Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority’s Lynchburg Adult Detention Center, logging over 1,200 volunteer hours, and so much more.
Simmons' Advice for Future Leaders
If one wishes to become a leader, Simmons advises, “Be yourself,” and she lives by this motto.
She knows what she wants from life: “I would like to be successful in life, and [I] do not mean with all the cash money in the world. I mean be successful as in being able to still get by, but in better circumstances.”
Simmons knows what she’s capable of, and she approaches the world with an open mind and a sense of purpose. Family, faith, music, and positive self-talk are her go-to strategies for remaining healthy and positive, and she often recalls the words of indigenous life coach Andrea Dykstra: “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you."
So what does the future hold for Simmons? She has been accepted into grad school at the University of Lynchburg, for the nonprofit leadership program, and at Liberty University for the criminal justice program. She’s even working on a book, with marketing for it on the docket soon.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is an essential step toward success and leadership. To learn more about building the confidence to do so, check out one leader’s advice on gaining confidence through mindset.