Student Story

Reflecting on Community Service, Friendship, and Fun at Simmons

Gia Lebrun ’24

“I found my people at Simmons.”

As part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at Simmons, first-generation student Gia Elie ’24 has engaged in community service in the Boston area. “We have initiatives to work at soup kitchens to uplift our local communities,” she says, noting that the initiatives change every couple of years. “We focused on strengthening our sisterhood, building economic wealth [for local families], enhancing our environment, advocating for social justice, and uplifting our local community.” And there was time for fun: Elie and her sorority sisters danced at the Boston Celtics half-time show for HBCU night in 2023.

As a Soul President of the Black Student Organization (BSO), Elie has been involved in planning traditional events, like their annual Kwanzaa celebration and the annual “Sparkling Affair,” a celebration of Black graduates as they conclude their undergraduate degrees in Spring. “The Black Alumnae/i Symposium was a great opportunity to meet Black alumnae/i,” says Elie. “It was a visual representation of the Black legacy that Simmons has in real time, which was really impactful. It was motivating for me to see Black people who are part of campus. It was also inspiring for me to hear stories from Alumni about their time here at Simmons. The excellence these women have accomplished was truly motivating!”

Campus life has been vibrant and interesting for Elie, who worked with fellow BSO members to plan SoulFatt, a concert on campus. “We got Gyptian, a Caribbean artist, to perform with a bunch of local artists,” she recalls. “I grew up listening to him because of my mom. I called my mom on Whatsapp during the concert — she was so excited! She still listens to his music to this day, so it was a full circle moment for us.”

Gaining Experience and Mentorship Through Internships

Elie has held two internships while at Simmons: one at Harvard University and the other at a small tech startup called Lambent. At Harvard, she contributed to a website auditing project for the DEI office, resulting in a competitor analysis presentation that she gave to the whole executive team. “Everyone loved it,” she says. “I got to network with my supervisor, and she’s now my mentor for my professional career. That [experience] really impacted me.” At Lambent, Elie ran the company’s social media accounts — thanks to the experience she gained maintaining the Instagram account for Simmons Student Life, and through her major in Public Relations and Marketing Communications. She also had the opportunity to work at the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the holiday season. “I got to meet people [in the orchestra] and see the classical show. Listening to The Nutcracker brought back memories of my Christmas dance recitals [as a kid]!”

Finding her people at Simmons

And what was the most transformative part of her Simmons experience? The friendships that she cultivated on campus.

“If I hadn’t found my people at Simmons, it would have been a totally different experience,” says Elie. “When starting a new chapter of your life, you need to find a group of people who make you feel at home and bring out your best self.” She encourages new students to arrive at Simmons with an open mind. “Try everything, meet everyone! Once you figure out to what you really like, that’s when college really starts. For me, senior year was the best year out of all four years!”

It’s that camaraderie that Elie will always remember. “My friends and I were in Bartol Hall [the other night] telling jokes,” she recalls. “You know when you’re sitting in the dining hall and there’s one table laughing and being loud and obnoxious? That was us. When something was funny and I would run [across Bartol], my friends would run in other directions. We’re so dramatic.”

Elie was eager to welcome first-year students to campus last fall, and was glad to see new Black students at Simmons. “I was overwhelmed with happiness, counting the Black students moving onto campus, and speaking to their parents. I made sure they knew that we were their allies!”

Publish Date


Alisa M. Libby