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Published: July 17, 2017
Derrick Simms ’18 is studying abroad with the help of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
Derrick Simms ’18 is studying abroad with the help of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
He is studying psychology and Greek history at the American College of Greece in Athens.
He is studying psychology and Greek history at the American College of Greece in Athens.

While Derrick Simms ’18 speaks French and Polish, he can now add novice Greek to his credentials.

Simms, an international business/management major with a minor in French, spent the first part of the summer studying psychology and Greek history at the American College of Greece in Athens. It was the friendships he made and the empowering nature of traveling on his own that he said made the greatest impacts.

“The opportunity that I was given to travel to Greece exceeded my every expectation,” Simms said. “Everything from the basic classwork, cultural food and excursions, and diverse group of students I shared this journey with.”

Simms is studying abroad with the help of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.

“The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program aims to support a diverse range of students who have been traditionally under-represented in education abroad, including students with diverse ethnic backgrounds,” said Marca Bear, associate dean of international programs. “It is a competitive and highly selective program that offers grants for U.S. undergraduate students, encouraging students to choose non-traditional study and intern abroad destinations.”

All recipients carry out a Follow-on Service Project that promotes international education and the Gilman Scholarship Program at the students' home institution or in their home community. Simms wants to start a disability awareness club to give others confidence to reach their goals. “If I can travel outside the United States alone to gain globalization skills and knowledge even though I am severely epileptic, so can you,” Simms wrote in his service project proposal.

“I would say that being able to go abroad alone with my condition, yet still having an unbelievably incredible time, gave me the greatest confidence to follow through on my goals and aspirations,” said Simms, explaining he had a seizure on the plane ride there, multiple times during class and on a ferry ride three hours away from land.

“No matter what, I’m always going to be epileptic and have seizures. There’s no changing that,” Simms said. “However, studying abroad impacted my confidence by allowing me to prove to myself that I can achieve anything, anywhere, even while being epileptic.”

Simms, who is also earning a certificate in international studies and is in the Honors Program, has traveled several times to France (where his grandfather was born), as well as Monaco, Canada and the Bahamas, where his father was born. Once he finishes his undergraduate work, Simms plans to earn his master’s in finance at UT and then work abroad in international banking.

“A lot of people assume what could be going on outside U.S. borders, but you never really know what’s happening until you go and see it with your own eyes,” Simms said. “You can hear stories, but until you actually experience it, until you actually feel the reality of it, until you travel you don’t know that these things ever existed.”


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