Campus & Community

Alumnae/i, Family, and Friends Weekend Celebrates Simmons and the Power of Community

Stormy, the Simmons mascot, posing for pictures during Alumnae, Family, and Friends Weekend 2023

Simmons voices were heard, action was taken—and we had fun, too! I look forward to continuing to build our future together.”
— Krissy Raposa, Director of Alumnae/i and Volunteer Engagement in the Office of Advancement

Alumnae/i, Family, and Friends Weekend (October 13-15) welcomed a broad cross-section of the Simmons community for an action-packed schedule of ways to celebrate, engage in dialogue about University’s present and future, and just have fun. Offerings ranged from Boston Duck Tours to a discussion on “Banned Books and Challenged Ideas” and a celebration of Simmons’ campus revitalization.

“The Weekend exemplified what Simmons does best: bringing the community together, whether you are a parent or other family member of a first-year student, an alumna returning for a reunion, or a student in your last year,” said Corey Zohlman, Assistant Vice President, Operations and Administration, Student Engagement, Success, and Diversity. “More than 100 family members and their students joined us, meeting familiar faces and forming new lifelong friendships throughout the weekend.”

Simmons expanded what has traditionally been a weekend focused on students, families, and friends, and this year rolled out the welcome mat for alumnae/i, too, including those whose regular reunion schedule was disrupted by the pandemic.

“We gathered the Simmons family at their ‘other’ home, the Simmons campus, and shined a light on the inspiring work being done by its members. Simmons voices were heard, action was taken—and we had fun, too! I look forward to continuing to build our future together,” said Krissy Raposa, Director of Alumnae/i and Volunteer Engagement in the Office of Advancement.

Raposa was among the many who participated in a “Murder Mystery Dinner”—a longtime Weekend favorite. “It was fun and silly—and you didn't see a single cellphone out for two and half hours,” Corey Zohlman noted. Also featured: a special screening of “Barbie” and a related discussion led by Alumnae/i Association Historian Maddie Gretzky '16 and Emma Keeling '22.

Opportunities to hear from, and ask questions of Simmons and alumnae/i leaders included President Lynn Perry Wooten’s “State of the University” conversation with Karen Young-Thomas ’77, Co-president of the Alumnae/i Association Executive Board (AAEB). Young-Thomas and other AAEB members then hosted an open-to-all working meeting.

The exchange of information and questions continued in moderated conversations focused on Creating Community in the Living and Learning Center, Rebuilding Alumnae/i Engagement, the Sciences at Simmons, and Expanding Access to Education Through Philanthropy.


A Celebration of the Planned Living and Learning Center

A highlight of Alumnae/i, Family, and Friends Weekend was “Simmons on the Rise” which featured a variety of perspectives on the planned Living and Learning Center (LLC). This final phase of the One Simmons campus transformation and unification project will include student residences as well as dining and athletics facilities.

Celebration host Regina Pisa, Chair of Simmons’ Board of Trustees, emphasized that the LLC, like other One Simmons projects—including the completed new library and Science Center—is about much more than bricks and mortar.

“This is about investing in our students and our future. It is about being able to recruit the best talent in the country. It is about making good on our promise to our students that we will prepare them to go out into the world to meet life’s challenges. It is about leveraging our resources to invest in the Simmons of tomorrow,” Pisa told attendees.

Kaz Gebhardt ’25 shared some perspective on the LLC from the vantage point of a legacy student who’s been working on a memory project about the history of life on the residential campus. (Kaz’ mother, Beth Gebhardt ’82, was in the audience.)

“I realize the new building is going to be wonderful and really good for the community,” said Kaz Gebhardt. “I look forward to the LLC creating a space for students to connect not only over shared experiences but over our differences as well, all while dining, studying, and living under one roof.” Kaz has spoken with Simmons administrators and the project’s designers about ways to incorporate residential campus history in the LLC.

“I’m excited about the new Living and Learning Center. It’s going to be special,” Lauren Del Vacchio ’20 told the audience, after explaining how empowering it was to find her “voice” at Simmons, including as a member of the softball team. “I want those that follow us here to have the best. Be the best,” adding, “Building on our past, strengthening who we are, is what we do.”

“As we stand at this intersection of history and innovation, let us remember that traditions are not set in stone. They evolve, adapt, and grow, just as we do,” said Simmons’ Athletic Director Erica Schuling '13MS, '18MS, who concluded the LLC celebration. “So let us continue to cherish our time-honored customs while fearlessly forging new ones that reflect the diverse and dynamic community we are becoming.”

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Robert Dunn