"Mikailiah Simons, a 27 year-old
NVCC graduate from Woodbury, receives the ninth annual Western Connecticut
State University President to President Scholarship from President Daisy Cocco
De Filippis, Ph.D. and President James W. Schmotter, Ph.D. "
Waterbury, Conn. – Mikailiah “Mikki” Simons became the ninth Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) student to receive the Western Connecticut State University President to President Scholarship on Tuesday, May 17, at the College’s Honors Night.
Since 2003, WestConn and NVCC have co-sponsored the President to President Scholarship, which is awarded annually to one exemplary associate’s degree graduate at NVCC to complete the final two years of studies and earn a bachelor’s degree at WestConn. The scholarship pays full tuition costs and covers two academic years.
“The academic performance of past President-to-President Scholars has been outstanding," said James W. Schmotter, Ph.D., president of WestConn. "Having seen Mikailah’s academic record and having heard about the challenges she has overcome, I have no doubt she will join in that tradition of excellence. We look forward to welcoming her into the Western community.”
Simons, 27 of Woodbury, hasn’t had it easy. When she was 19, Simons delayed going to College in order to stay home with her newborn sister, Dri. Simons’ parents were divorced at the time and when it was necessary for her mother to return to work, she stepped into the role of daytime caretaker.
“I worked a lot of odd jobs, like as a nanny,” said Simons. “My requisite for jobs was being able to take Dri with me.”
In fall of 2008, when her sister was old enough to attend kindergarten, Simons enrolled in classes at NVCC. Having been home-schooled, Simons was initially shy, but her teachers recognized her talent and helped her to find her voice on campus.
“She’s a great student and a hard worker, so, we gave her the push she needed,” said Karla Ekquist-Lechner associate professor of history and faculty liaison to the Women’s Center.
As a result, Simons took advantage of a legislative internship with State Representative Denise Merrill in academic year 2009-2010 and became an active part of the Women’s Center. Now, she graduates with a 3.95 GPA and a degree in liberal arts and sciences and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology before ultimately earning a master’s degree in social work and then a doctoral degree.
“My dream is to become a professor and teach sociology,” said Simons. “I’m really excited to move on to WestConn and start this next part of my life, but I’m also really sad to be leaving NVCC. I really love it here.”