After a rough freshman year at UTC, Simone Edwards says she was ready to transfer. But getting out of her bubble changed that.
“I ended up having to really search and go look for things, but that led me to being in the different organizations that I’m in today. People say this a lot, but if you just stay in your room, you’re not going to find out about anything,” says Edwards, a political science major.
“There’s always something going on. I know that people are introverted. I’m actually very introverted, but you have to get out. Get out there and find you niche. Find where you fit in.”
Getting out there has led to New Orleans in May, when she’ll take part in the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education.
Selected as a scholar, Edwards will meet with administrators and student leaders from universities across the country to talk about racial and ethnic relations on college campuses and discuss new ways of providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented populations in higher education.
Edwards has an impressive list of achievements under her belt. She’s vice president for UTC’s Black Student Alliance and chair for the Student Government Association’s Social Issues and Diversity Committee. She plays piano. She dances. She’s a Brock Scholar in the Honors College.
Through her participation with all of these organizations, she’s planned events like Mindrunner, an obstacle course of sorts where participants are tasked with making certain situations more accessible for individuals with disabilities and to raise awareness for accessibility on campus. She’s joined InterVarsity UTC, a group that eats lunch with students at Orchard Knob High School, then brings those same students to campus for a glimpse of college life.
“They [students from Orchard Knob] really love it. They act like they don’t, though,” she says.
Edwards recently started a website full of resources for high school students as they prepare for college. It has a list of local available scholarships, a timeline for applying to college and insights on maneuvering through college as a newcomer, for example, explanations of what grants or a bursar’s office are
She says her website, It’s a Different World, was created out of her own experience of applying for college and feeling like she was missing a lot of vital information that her peers already seemed to know.
“When I was applying for college, all of my friends knew what was going on. It felt like I was the only one who didn’t,” Edwards says.