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Davis Peace Prize Awarded to Simmons College Senior

Four Simmons Student in Four Years to Receive Prestigious Award

BOSTON (April 20, 2010) — Maya Semans, a Simmons College senior, recently received the Davis Peace Prize, a national award given to undergraduates involved in grass roots global peace-building initiatives.

Semans, a Baltimore native, will use the $10,000 prize to create a three-week creative writing/art/music camp for street children in Durban, South Africa. These orphaned children live in the city without care or protection. Semans said the goal of her program is to empower street children and former street children to develop a critical consciousness of social justice issues through poetry, music, and art. The program will encourage the children to speak about their experiences, and to make change in their own lives and the lives of others in their communities.

Semans will work on the project in South Africa this summer, along with Smith College student Vanessa Shea and Michael Austin, a Baltimore jazz musician. Austin, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, learned to read and write music in prison and will be working with the children in South Africa to help them change their own lives.

Past Simmons College recipients of the Davis Peace Prize are: Asia Norton, 2009, for her project "Bringing Clean Water Solutions to Rural Liberia;" Marie Gay, 2008, for her project "Youth for Community Education," to support literacy in Haiti; and Marie Gay, 2007, for her project "Youth of Hope for Haiti" aimed at building stronger communities through literacy programs in Les Cayes, Haiti.

Davis Projects for Peace was created in 2007 by Kathryn Wasserman Davis, an accomplished internationalist and philanthropist. The objective of the program is to encourage and support motivated youth to envision and create their own ideas for building peace throughout the world.

Simmons College is a nationally recognized private university located in the heart of Boston. It offers an undergraduate education for women, and renowned coeducational graduate programs in health sciences, education, liberal arts, social work, library and information science, and communications management, as well as the nation's first MBA program designed specifically for women.