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Eisenhart Scholar thrives in opportunities to serve York community

Brianna head and shoulders

Brianna Simms ’23 spent her first year at York College of Pennsylvania getting to know the place. She went to every event she could to meet people and engage with her new community. But, outside of classes and her job as an RA, Simms sought something more. “I wanted to be part of a team and contribute to bigger goals,” she says. “I found that with the Eisenhart Scholars.”

The Eisenhart Community Scholars Program, part of the larger Changemakers initiative at York College, is open to students in any major. Its mission of fostering connections at the College and in the community became a perfect fit for Simms, who joined the program this year.

As a Graphic Design major, Simms has often used her talents to serve the greater good. She’ll volunteer to create posters or advertising designs, like she did last year with the Spartan Food Pantry, which was established in 2016 to provide for York College students.

While she felt connected on the York College campus, Simms wanted to branch out into the broader York community. “There are valuable connections that can be made beyond those I meet on campus,” she says. “I know I can contribute to the bigger picture.”

In the right place

Simms likes to stretch outside of her comfort zone. As a junior in high school, she decided she wanted to graduate early and worked with her guidance counselor to complete the necessary classes to receive her diploma a year ahead of schedule. “I just felt ready,” she says. “I wanted to take on the challenge.”

Her father, who serves in the military, was planning a move in his daughter’s final year of school. Finishing early meant she could wrap up her high school education without starting fresh in a new town. It also meant she’d start college at 17.

“I have no complaints,” she says. “I felt like I was in a position where I could succeed, and York College has really helped with that. I feel like I’m in the right place.”

Finding the next challenge

Simms found a passion for graphic design at York College, but she also found an opportunity to continue to push herself. Although she just began her year as an Eisenhart Scholar, she’s excited to uncover new challenges.

The program has largely moved to a virtual format since COVID-19 impacted campus activities, but Simms believes that presents an opportunity for innovation. “There are a lot of things we’re exploring so that we can still make an impact,” she says. “I’m glad to see we aren’t letting the pandemic keep us from making a difference.”

Simms loves interacting with people and making connections. It’s one of the reasons she knew York College was right for her. She has found plenty of opportunities to feel like she’s not just a student—but part of the York community.

“That’s really important to me,” she says. “I want to know I’m here to make a difference and be part of something bigger than myself. There’s plenty of opportunity for that.”

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