Easing transition to higher education

Omari Simmons went to high school in rural Delaware with a lot of smart kids.

But while Simmons headed south to study at Wake Forest University, not many of his classmates chose to go to college.

“When I think back, these people were lost in the transition,” said Simmons, now a professor of law at Wake Forest. “That’s one of the things that inspired me to go back and help.”

He did so by starting the Simmons Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that equips kids at risk of not going to college with the nuts-and-bolts information they need to make that leap.

Although the foundation was active for years in Delaware, its focus shifted to Forsyth County two years ago. It works with students from all over the county but has formed its strongest bonds with Parkland and Glenn high schools. Students are recommended by guidance counselors or community organizations.

The program is open to high-achieving students who need extra assistance with all the steps involved in going to college. They might be first-generation college students or come from low-income households.

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