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Benjamin Simmons to address graduates at the 2024 College of Science Degree Celebration

2024 College of Science Degree Celebration speaker Benjamin Simmons
Simmons served the Department of Computational and Data Sciences as a STAR (Student Teachers and Research Assistants), the department's peer-mentoring program.

George Mason University Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) student Benjamin Simmons will represent the class of 2024 as the student speaker at the College of Science Degree Celebration taking place Friday, May 10 at 10 a.m. in EagleBank Arena. 

“I was honored to be selected, and feel it’s a great accomplishment,” Simmons said.

Simmons, who will graduate with a degree in environmental science with a concentration in environmental health, applied to George Mason University after previously earning an associate’s degree in emergency medical services at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). 

Simmons, who’s seeks to attend medical school, said he wanted to join a program that would provide a unique educational background to help him stand out among other applicants. To further strengthen his qualifications, he pursued a minor in biology and added forensic psychology to enhance his skills as a current and future healthcare provider. "My ultimate goal is to become a physician and make a difference in people's lives," he explained.

Known in his cohort for his attention to detail and commitment to safety and efficiency, Simmons took on the role of managing the ESP teaching labs. To help advance the way these labs support students, he completed his undergraduate research project in the form of a proposal to overhaul EVPP 109 and 113 Introduction to Environmental Science labs. This redesign suggests a more comprehensive introduction to various environmental science fields and concentrations, offering students an immersive learning experience.

In this image, Changwoo Ahn is demonstrating the use of a soil probe to obtain soil samples at the Ahn Wetland Mesocosm Compound to Simmons and a fellow classmate.
ESP professor Changwoo Ahn (left) demonstrates the use of a soil probe to obtain soil samples to Simmons and a classmate at the Ahn Wetland Mesocosm Compound. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services.

Simmons emphasized the strong connection between environmental and human health. "Every organism forms a symbiotic relationship with the environment. What we do to it ultimately affects us." he noted. With a holistic approach to environmental science education, Simmons believes in "Tying the curriculum to real-world issues and creating a personal connection for students" to enhance deeper understanding and appreciation for the subject.

Beyond his academic achievements, Simmons is a decorated Army veteran and a volunteer paramedic. He has earned numerous commendations for his outstanding service, including recognition by the U.S. Congress. This dedication to service extends beyond his military background. "I believe in giving back to the community," he enthused. "Whether it's through volunteering as a paramedic or mentoring fellow students, I find fulfillment in contributing to others' well-being and success."

"I'm grateful for the opportunities Mason has provided me, and I'm excited to embark on the next chapter of my journey," Simmons said, reflecting on his time at Mason. As he prepares to address his fellow graduates at the College of Science Degree Celebration, he advises his peers to pursue their passions. "Each of us has the power to effect change," he highlighted. "It's up to us to seize the opportunities before us and make a difference wherever we go."

Simmons, who is diagnosed with both ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome, prides himself on his ability to perform well with little extra assistance. However, he does encourage other students to reach out for support should they need it. “Don't be afraid to reach out for help or sit down with those in your support system,” he said. “There’s been multiple times where I had my life plan mapped out and things happen. It's also never too late to start over. There’s never a point of no return,” he said.