Dedman College News
Originally Posted: October 9, 2018
By: Ryan Garrett
Through the EHRP, India has traveled to Poland, Germany, and Israel to further advance her knowledge and skillsets by seeing things first-hand. The trip to Poland and Germany, taken in December over winter break, was especially relevant to Simmons as it was focused around meeting with Holocaust survivors and visiting concentration camps.
“It was a hard trip, physically and emotionally,” Simmons said. “(The survivors) were all elderly women. They were all so joyous. They were smiling the whole time. They were laughing. It was remarkable to see that perseverance despite what they went through.”
Motivated by these global experiences, India also pursues activism on the SMU campus through her advocacy for mental health. As a recipient of the SMU Human Rights Fellowship, India has created a new student organization to build awareness, provide resources, and facilitate dialogue on the topic of mental health as a human right.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t have the language, so to speak,” India explains. “Through the Embrey Human Rights Program, I’ve gained the language and so much knowledge and skillsets…I feel I’m able to deliver the passion I feel on the inside to the outside world.”
India has launched into her community outreach project by organizing a new student organization, called the Alliance on Mental Health. She has organized two student gatherings.
Statistics show that 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a mental health condition, more than 43 million Americans. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, at least one in five college students will experience a mental health condition.
“The biggest thing is I’m passionate about human rights work,” Simmons said. “I’m passionate about activism and social justice to bring equality and dignity to people.”
India will also be volunteering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to gain the insight and experience needed to effectively run the organization and formulate the best methods and strategies to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illnesses thus bettering the lives of these students.
Important to her mission is hosting various campus events; providing a safe place for students to share their stories, understand they are not alone and work alongside each other as a community to help break the stigma surrounding mental illness. She hopes to bring speakers onto campus to discuss particular issues surrounding mental illness and/or mental health, and events which are engaging and interactive.
Learn more about the SMU Embrey Human Rights Program