Goal-setting is an important element in having a successful college career, and nontraditional student Laura Simmons is one go-getter. Simmons, 49, enrolled at Tech four years ago with hopes of obtaining degrees in broadcast journalism and hospitality management.
“At first, one of my biggest fears when I came to school was me being older,” she said. “I didn’t know how I was going to fit in with the students. I thought they’d look at me and go ‘what’s this old lady doing in class with me?’ Since I started, it hasn’t been like that at all. The students have been welcoming, and they’ve always been willing to help me, especially with technology.”
Simmons said she knew prior to enrolling that she wanted to make the most of her time at Tech. Within Simmons’ time here, she has joined several clubs and been able to create first-time memories she will always remember.
“I have had so many firsts,” she said. “At my age, I didn’t think it was possible to still be experiencing first times. Like, I never really used a computer before school. I’ve never had algebra before. I never had to write papers before. There’s so many firsts I’ve had in my time here.”
Even as both a full-time student and full-time employee, Simmons said she wanted to do more, and be more involved on campus. She has accomplished her goals by immersing herself in school clubs.
“I am a member of SS Trio, the treasurer for the hospitality club, as well as the president for PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America,” she said. “On top of that, I’m also the event coordinator at my church.”
Within her club positions, she has learned valuable life skills, and she was also able to travel to Arizona for a leadership conference. Simmons said she has to use organization skills to remember the long to-do list she endures daily.
“I have to write it all down,” she said. “I have so many things to every day, I won’t remember if I don’t. I know when I have windows of free-time to get things done, and I know exactly when I need to be where. My organization skills have definitely improved.”
After she graduated high school and prior to enrolling at Tech, Simmons obtained an associate’s degree and also graduated from the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute.
“Coming back to school after taking a break was very different,” she said. “I had to learn how to study because I had never really studied before. What might take a typical student one hour to complete, it takes me two or three hours to do. I’d never used Word or Excel, PowerPoint, nothing so I had to spend a lot of time learning that.”
Simmons said when coming back to school, she knew she wanted to utilize every opportunity she could.
“I wanted to come back to school and try everything I could,” she said. “I completed OnTrack, and I’ve been on the OnTrack trip. The year I did it, we went to Chicago and Washington, DC. I just knew that if I was going to do this whole school thing that I was going to do it all.”
“I have been very impressed with the amount of opportunities Tech has to offer. A lot of people tell me that I’m way more involved than most nontraditional students, and I’m constantly telling people about things Tech has that they didn’t even know about.”
With the goal of graduating in mind, Simmons said there are always things you can do to make it easier.
“Ask questions, be curious,” she said. “There are no dumb questions. You won’t ever know if you don’t ask. Get involved, get involved, and I can’t preach that one enough. Go out and make difference. Meet new people and make those connections you need.”