Simmons, 32, will graduate with a degree in forensic psychology next month.
“It blew me away when I learned I was a semifinalist. It’s a big deal and definitely the biggest honor I’ve achieved academically,” Simmons said. “My mother and father didn’t graduate college and my father didn’t complete high school, so that makes it even more overwhelming and incredible to apply for this prestigious scholarship and be recognized.”
Simmons initially graduated from Wallace State’s HVAC and Refrigeration program in December 2017 and returned to the college in January 2020, enrolling in forensic psychology. Simmons served in the Marines from 2009-2013, making one tour to Afghanistan and another to Southeast Asia.
“I earned a great job as a technician with Ingersoll Rand after graduating from HVAC and enjoyed what I did. While working there, I had two brain surgeries and was forced to give up that career,” Simmons said. “That lead me back to Wallace State, and the forensic psychology degree exactly fits the bill for what I want to do in life. I want to also earn a bachelor’s in psychology, a minor in neuroscience and a master’s in counseling and work for or around veterans. Those are my guys.”
Simmons, a father of eight children, is mulling multiple four-year colleges and universities, but is leaning toward transferring to UAB in the fall.
Last year, Aljon Celis became the second Wallace State student to win the prestigious scholarship, joining Chelsea Allen in 2008. Celis was one of 50 recipients of the scholarship and is now enrolled at Stanford University.
“Aljon has been an encouragement to me and was excited for me, along with Susan Peek, my Success Coach,” said Simmons, of Remlap. “I’ll forever be grateful to Wallace State. It’s helped lay the foundation for my successes.”
Simmons was selected as a semifinalist among 1,500 applicants attending 398 community colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Finalists will be announced later this spring.
Cooke Transfer Scholars are selected based on their exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service and leadership. Students must be currently enrolled in community college and residing in the United States.
For more information about the scholarship program, visit https://www.jkcf.org/our-scholarships/undergraduate-transfer-scholarship/