Three years ago, Simrill Smith hopped off a plane from a life-changing experience at The Traveling School’s 26th semester in southern Africa.
Simrill remembers the inspiring classes and strong community that developed at The Traveling School with deep fondness.
“My semester had the most amazing women on it whom I still talk to on a daily basis,” she told us and listed the many reunions she has attended in Seattle, Bozeman and Atlanta. “The community doesn’t need to end after the semester, and we’ve been able to stay in each other’s lives years later.”
Just like her community, The Traveling School has also impacted Simrill’s educational and life path choices. With the skills and confidence she gained during her semester, she came home and founded the Female Empowerment (FEM) club at her high school and began the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program during her junior year.
“I wanted to create a community at my school similar to The Traveling School for dialogue about social issues around women’s rights,” Simrill said of the club and its connection to her experience in southern Africa, “My semester’s curriculum transformed the way I looked at the world and my own life. It made me into more of a critical thinker. It also prepared me well for IB, which is largely based on reflecting and questioning everything.”
During the summers since her Traveling School semester, Simrill has worked in a biomedical engineering lab, taken care of snakes at her local science center, and learned Hindi through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth during a homestay in Pune, India.
Simrill is now a Clark Scholar at Georgia Tech University. The Clark Scholarship awards ten students from Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering a four-year scholarship that is extremely competitive. Simrill credits her time at The Traveling School as one reason she is now a Clark Scholar.
“Through The Traveling School, I learned how complicated and rooted the problems of low resource communities are; how imperialism, exploitation, structural racism and other systems of oppression have factored into the social and environmental landscape of southern Africa. I would say this takeaway is one of the reasons I was chosen for my scholarship.”
As a result of this widened perspective gained on her Traveling School semester, Simrill continues to set her eyes on making an impact on a global scale after college. “I want to develop solutions in low resource communities through engineering,” she said of her future goal.
Simrill continues to think critically about global issues, make an impact in her own community, and develop leadership skills, a foundation she gained on her Traveling School semester.
How would Simrill sum up how she feelings about The Traveling School? #GlobalHome
Mark your calendars to Give Big on May 2 – 3 so that more young women can join Simrill and become tomorrow’s global leaders. Learn more here!