January 21, 2013
Ruth Simmons: An American Pioneer
In 1945 in Grapeland Texas a little girl named Ruth J. Simmons was born. She grew up on a farm in East Texas and had a life of hardship and deprivation. Ruth had a wonderful grounding by her parents and an extraordinary streak of luck. She had mentors who challenged, supported, and encouraged her to pursue her dreams. One of the most influential mentors was her mother, whom Ruth watched for hours pressing fabric. Ruth studied at Dillard University and later at Wellesley College. She was inspired by President Margaret Clapp to view traditional gender roles in a different perspective but she never forgot what her mother said about perseverance, a precious lesson that stayed with her ever since and then she went on to earn a PHD at Harvard University in Romance Language but through all of her education she managed to get married at twenty-two and had two children and is now divorced. She later became director of studies at Princeton University and rejuvenated black culture on campus by hiring prominent black scholars such as Cornel West, Toni Morrison, and Henry Louis Gates to teach in the Department of African American Studies. Simmons later became president of Brown University in 2001 and at the beginning of next month she will step-down as Brown University president and return to Princeton as a board member. She is well known as a pioneer of her studies. She remains dedicated to the cause of education and encourages students to succeed in their academic endeavors. DR. Ruth J. Simmons said the best thing any parent can do for a child is to give your child a sense of love and support to be open to the idea that they need to learn.