Student Story

Flourishing in the Community at Simmons and Completing Meaningful Internships

Bella Yee ’24

“The community at Simmons embraces my intersectional identities, and that was a first for me. I discovered a lot of power in my found community, and I felt supported and celebrated.”

Bella Yee ’24 started her Simmons education living at home and learning remotely, as did most of the Class of 2024. In Zoom classes, she met Associate Professor of Practice Kristina Markos, a connection that would prove pivotal. “I’ve taken classes with her every year, and she’s my academic advisor,” says Yee. “She breathes life into what it means to be a Communications student, creating tangible connections between the classroom and the industry.”

Markos also coached Yee through Studio 5, a professional communications studio within the Communications Department, where students work with real clients, under the guidance of their professors. “Studio 5 is not your traditional capstone. It is an opportunity for students from all sectors of communications — public relations, design, journalism, integrated media — to work together and satisfy the clients’ needs. This class served as a sandbox for me to experiment with the various skills I have learned in my coursework and I know it will be a competitive edge as I begin applying for jobs. I consider [Professor Markos] a mentor, and my peers do, too.”

Getting Involved in Campus Events

Once Yee was able to reside on campus, she was determined to be involved. “I love event planning and gathering people in a space,” says Yee. “Since my first year was remote, I used that as my fuel to make my student life experience really special on campus.”

For her first on-campus event, she was an Orientation Leader during her sophomore year. Working with the Jennifer Eckert Center for Leadership & Engagement to prepare the Orientation program, Yee enjoyed the week of activities and the chance to socialize outside of the Communications Department. “That experience was one of a kind! I could see the direct impact of my work on the students and their families,” says Yee. “[As an Orientation Leader], you’re working with folks from different years and majors who you wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to on a daily basis. Those friendships have lasted over the years and I am so grateful for every one of them.”

During her time at Simmons, Yee became involved in the Student Government Association (SGA), spearheading initiatives and implementing communications plans. “There are so many positions you can run for in SGA, and you can see the tangible impact of your work. It’s a tremendous professional development opportunity. The projects I did in SGA, especially as Communications Director, are proving to be so useful when looking for jobs. The organization itself is a fantastic network of people.” Yee also notes that SGA at Simmons is unique, as students in leadership positions receive a stipend. “SGA officers have a direct line of communication to campus administration.”

Yee was involved in the Communications Liaison, which bridges undergraduate students with alumnae/i. “I have had the unique opportunity to lead the planning of the annual networking dinner,” says Yee. “The event was held over Zoom my first two years, and I was part of the team that brought it back in person after the pandemic, which was really exciting. We had our second in-person dinner [in February], and it was a very successful event.”

Meaningful Local Internships

As a Simmons student, Yee held a variety of internships. While living at home in her first year, Yee worked with her family’s company, Bean Restaurant Group. They were then working with Peter Pan Bus lines on an initiative to feed front-line workers in Western Massachusetts during the pandemic. “This time spent working with my family — with my late father — was so formative for me. His vision, leadership, and desire to give back to his community are the driving force behind my purpose and work.”

During sophomore year, she interned for Karyn Polito, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. Thereafter, she interned for the communications team in Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey’s office. Most recently, Yee received the Barbara Lee Fellowship and worked as a legislative intern for Representative Adrianne Ramos.

These unique experiences influenced Yee to pursue a career in politics after graduation. “I’ve learned important lessons and skills from the private and public sector,” she says. “Boston is a hub for politics and there are lots of opportunities. I’ve learned that the ‘why’ behind my job is important to me. If I can be serving a greater community, that is important to me.”

Beyond coursework and internships, Yee desired to study abroad during her undergraduate studies. “I went to the Simmons Study Abroad office and we looked for summer programs aligned with my interests.” The Office was able to connect her to a program and a scholarship, allowing Yee to spend three weeks studying at the University of Roehampton in London, England. “I was the only person from Simmons in that cohort, so I met a lot of new people! Traveling overseas by myself was transformative for me. It gave me a fresh perspective that summer, and instilled in me a new confidence in my individuality. I was able to take an urban studies course about London. It was a really unique experience that I wouldn’t have been able to create for myself if I had gone as a tourist.”

Flourishing in the Community at Simmons

Looking back on her undergraduate experience, Yee is glad that she chose Simmons. “Simmons is a gem because of how small our campus community is. There are people at Simmons who will recognize your potential, and you have the opportunity to be involved and integrated into the community in a way that you may not have at a larger university. My leadership was able to grow into something bigger at Simmons. It’s been a game changer.”

Yee also values the women’s-centered community at Simmons. “I’m queer and half-Chinese. The community at Simmons embraces my intersectional identities, and that was a first for me. I discovered a lot of power in my found community, and I felt supported and celebrated. That allowed me to feel confident in my leadership skills and take risks.”

Yee hopes that incoming students will also be invested in the Simmons community. “Get involved, take risks, follow your interests and passions,” she advises. “You’ll find people like you, and people not like you, who you will learn from in some way. . . . take the initiative and get as much out of your Simmons experience as you can.”

Publish Date


Alisa M. Libby