The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

UpSTANDer of the Week: Education Coordinator Ashton Simmons

Name: Ashton Simmons

Position: National Education Coordinator

School: DePauw University

City: Greencastle, IN

What’s your story?

 My life has been largely defined by the stark differences between the rural Midwest and European cities.  I grew up in small-town Indiana, but have studied in three European cities:  I spent my junior year of high school in Zurich, Switzerland; and spent two semesters of college abroad, one in Strasbourg, France, and the other in Cork, Ireland.  I am currently a senior at DePauw University, majoring in Political Science and History, with minors in French and European Studies. 

Why do you care?

How can you not care?  In the end, I really believe that everyone cares, or would care if they took the time to understand the incredibly amount of suffering that exists in the world.  But there is a fundamental difference between caring and acting, and I choose to act.

 What are your goals for the year?

  When I was a little kid, my bedtime stories didn’t consist of fairy tales; instead, my dad used to read sections of the encyclopedia to me.  It instilled in me a deep desire to understand as much as possible.  Without a strong educational foundation, how can we go about enacting change in the world? 

My goal for the year is to provide all STAND members such a foundation.  Instead of just passing along random, Jeopardy-esque facts, I want to work on building a framework of understanding.  Genocide is not just numbers of deaths or names of perpetrators, but rather a complex policy decision.   Understanding this complexity is key to successfully advocating its end.

What makes you STAND?

 My life is a constant balance of my many interests.  Working to understand and act against genocide has been one of my biggest passions for a few years now.  In addition to my work with STAND, I am currently writing an honors thesis on genocide prevention.  Travel has probably always been my true love, whether exploring the cultural or the natural.  I am currently planning a trip back to Ireland in October and a three week service trip to India in January.  I also live for outdoor sports, whether it’s snowboarding, hiking, wakeboarding, beach volleyball, the list goes on forever.  I am the oldest of four kids – the youngest of which is eight – so my siblings keep me on my toes.

 You would never guess that I…  have been to more countries than US states.

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