Aminah honoured with diversity award
A student who helped Bermuda College graduates attend her university in Canada has graduated with a prestigious award for her efforts to boost the international flavour of the institution.
Aminah Simmons, 21, was given the Barritt-Marshall Award for her work towards the expansion of the international student body at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. Ms Simmons said that her success felt “surreal”.
She added: “I didn't even know about the award until they sent out an e-mail in the last month of school about nominating people for awards.
“There are other international students who also fought to make Mount Allison's campus more diverse and inclusive, so it was really humbling and I was just really honoured to win the award.”
Ms Simmons, from Devonshire, received the accolade at her online graduation on May 4.
The award was established by the late Bermudian Mount Allison graduates Ralph Marshall and Bob Barritt and is given to the graduating international student who contributed most to the growth and involvement of international students in the university.
Ms Simmons explained that she helped work with Bermuda College and Mount Allison to establish a scholarship and a credit exchange system.
She said that the developments could give Bermudians an easier route into university education through Bermuda College.
Ms Simmons added: “I do think that my advocacy throughout my four years at Mount Allison did impact their relationship with Bermuda College probably in a small way, but I know that a lot of people had a hand in increasing the support for Bermudian students at Mount Allison.”
Ms Simmons helped to establish the Caribbean Students Association at Mount Allison University, which she said was designed to give people from the region “a home away from home”.
She was also the student at large for the Anti-Racism Education and Response Team that responded to racial incidents on campus and promoted policies to help limit racism.
Ms Simmons was involved with the Student Union for three years, where she campaigned for more inclusion and kept the position of International Student Representative from being removed from the Student Union.
Her work towards black student representation also led to the university hiring its first black students adviser-diversity educator.
Ms Simmons was also elected the vice-president of Mount Allison's Shotokan Karate Club and she was the social representative of Thornton House Residence. She also became the university's international orientation facilitator and worked in the international mentorship programme.
Ms Simmons said: “International students pay a great deal more than local students to be at the university and I feel like we contribute a lot to their community. I wanted to try my best to make it a bit easier for other international students on campus and the ones that will come after me.”
Ms Simmons added that she hoped to pursue a career in marketing and communications and was exploring opportunities in Bermuda and New Brunswick.