By Austin Birchell (B.A. ’20)
After about a month of writing code and learning to program in his first classes at Georgia State, Ausar Simmonds, a computer information systems major now in his junior year, realized he’d discovered an algorithm for a rewarding college experience: diverse, welcoming people within a supportive community.
When he arrived on campus for his freshman year in fall 2017, Simmonds found himself slightly overwhelmed by everything there was to do and see.
“All of the opportunities really presented a challenge of, ‘What do I do with all of this? Which clubs do I join? What do I do outside of class? What minor should I pick?’” he said.
But as he began to explore student organizations and hit his stride in his studies, he was amazed by how easily he clicked with classmates and peers and developed a rapport with his professors. They all brought different perspectives to the table, which helped ground Simmonds as he sorted through all of the university’s offerings to find hobbies that really sparked joy in him.
Before he knew it, Simmonds had built his own village — one that continued to grow as he got more involved on campus. He became a student tour guide for the Welcome Center, a student ambassador for the esteemed 1913 Society and, his personal favorite, the “Panthers After Dark” director for the Spotlight Programs Board, which coordinates activities to enhance and enrich student life.
“I’ve met so many people who have unique connections to Georgia State and care about it in different ways,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see how far-reaching yet close the greater Georgia State community really is. The people are the backbone of it.”
Simmonds has found equal value and support in his academic endeavors, particularly when it comes to the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, which houses his major. He says his information technology (IT) classes, which regularly involve practical applications and realistic business scenarios he’ll one day encounter, have prepared him for what’s next — be it a first postgraduate job or graduate school.
The best part of it all? As a tour guide, Simmonds has the chance to wax poetic about those aspects of Panther life he finds so fulfilling.
When hit with the inevitable question, “Do you have any advice for future students?” he’s got choice words at the ready: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Simmonds believes the key is embracing the broad network of support that surrounds you on campus — from friends and peers to professors and coaches, to Supplemental Instruction leaders and advisers. It’s a lesson he learned early.
“I think college — definitely at Georgia State — presents every student with unique challenges. Learning to get comfortable being challenged is a big part of the college experience,” Simmonds said. “On the other side of that challenge is a stronger, more well-rounded person who is better prepared for life.”