Student Story

Meet Micah Joyce Guillermo ’26, Gilbert and Marcia Kotzen Scholarship Recipient

The Gilbert and Marcia Kotzen Scholarship is the most prestigious student award at Simmons. Kotzen scholarship recipients receive full tuition remission over four years. The class of 2026 includes ten Kotzen scholars. We spoke with Micah Joyce Guillermo about her intellectual interests, career plans, and why she chose Simmons.

What was it like when you found out that you received the Kotzen Scholarship?

The Kotzen Scholarship was an unforeseen blessing. It was early in the morning when I got the letter informing me that I had received the scholarship. It took me a few minutes to absorb it because I hadn't slept all night as I was constantly checking my inbox. As soon as I was able to process it, I woke my parents up and instantly broke down in tears.

To be completely honest, I was anxious since earning the scholarship would give me even less of a reason to stay in my home country [the Philippines]. I was both frightened and driven because I knew there was a reason I was chosen as one of the few scholarship recipients. And I proved myself right the moment I arrived at Simmons University. The Kotzen Scholarship provided me with the opportunity to grow in spite of the uncertainty. Having this happen is the most significant turning point in my life's story. It has taught me that the greatest opportunities for personal development are often found in uncomfortable, uncertain, and unexpected situations.

What is your major and why did you choose this area of study?

Initially, I was accepted into the 3+1 Program which combines a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a Master of Arts in Public Policy. However, with Simmons University's core curriculum, I had the chance to take more political science classes, which enhanced my desire to learn more about politics throughout the world. I opted to double major in Political Science and International Relations, with the intention of also pursuing minors in Economics and Public Policy.

Why were you interested in attending Simmons?

The inclusive and diverse community at Simmons piqued my interest in applying. Simmons has a lot to offer, and there are a number of organizations on campus that provide opportunities to hone skills and improve cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Students also have access to a wide range of resources that can be helpful in a variety of fields. Freedom and power can both be found in Simmons. Thus far, my time at Simmons has given me a sense of independence and power as a woman that I've never felt before.

Tell us about your experience as an international student.

The experience of traveling alone to Boston, 8,529 miles away from the Philippines, without knowing anyone in the area, and entering a new phase of my life from scratch was extremely difficult. During the first few months of my stay at Simmons, there were many times when I struggled to find a healthy way to deal with feelings of homesickness, sorrow, solitude, and the fear of trying something new. However, being a part of the Simmons community has given me the assurance that I am not alone. Countless people were receptive to listening. I made new friends, some of whom I now regard as sisters, as well as staff members, who I now consider to be my family. It wasn't until I attended Simmons as an international student that I understood how important it is to challenge yourself by taking on new experiences. I never would have had the chance to broaden my horizons to the extent that I have without the Kotzen Scholarship.

What do you see yourself doing after graduation?

My professors at Simmons have empowered me to envision a future in which I am able to share what I have learned across the world. I want to encourage others to be aware and mindful of what is happening in society. I've observed that many individuals, despite expressing a desire to do so, are denied access to knowledge and education. To this point, I've gained a greater understanding for how essential it is to impart information onto others, not for the purpose of accruing titles and wealth, but rather to provide them with the chance to grow in order to lead lives imbued with meaning.

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