Professor Omari Simmons (’96) and Carter Cook (’94,’98) recognized in Wake Forest Magazine for pro humanitate efforts

Professor Omari Simmons (’96) and Carter Cook (’94,’98) have been recognized in the Wake Forest Magazine for their pro humanitate efforts.

Professor Simmons is the co-founder and executive director of the Simmons Memorial Foundation, which encourages underrepresented students from North Carolina and rural Delaware to attend college.

“My nonprofit work has focused on providing a foundation of encouragement for all students,” he stated. “To perform this critical function, you don’t need an advanced degree, an elected office or success in the business world. It simply takes a willingness to encourage others plus the ability to empathize and understand the people you are assisting. My father best described our work: ‘We’re lifting others on our shoulders, giving them the chance to climb over a fence to face brighter possibilities and educational opportunities.’ We do this recognizing that we may never get over the fence and actually see what is on the other side. For example, I may never go to Harvard or Yale, find a cure for cancer or be president, but I know these students can. Ultimately, we must challenge them to be their best and fulfill their potential even when they don’t see it. Our satisfaction comes from knowing that students have traveled farther and benefited from the assistance we offer.”

Carter Cook (’94,’98) helps with the organization, Piano vs. Poverty, a tax-exempt nonprofit that encourages people to use their talents for the benefit of those in need. It has donated more than $6,000 to 25 charities ranging from The Lunch Project in Tanzania to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem.

“I still remember hearing in law school orientation that Wake Forest wanted its graduates to do well, but also to do good,” Cook explained. “Having spent eight years as a student and nearly nine more on the staff here, I consider Pro Humanitate not just an institutional motto but a personal responsibility. In 2011, my parents encouraged me to record a CD of hymn arrangements on the piano as a gift for my grandparents. I later decided to try to use music to help others financially. I know that sales of “Sundays in Belvedere” and any future albums cannot change the world, but my understanding of Pro Humanitate leads me to believe that being unable to do everything does not excuse me from trying to do something to help. Piano vs. Poverty is a small way for me to do my small part.”

Read the full stories here.