Maya Simmons is graduating with a double major — a BA in Art History and in African American and African Diaspora Studies — and she knows just how she plans to use both of them:

“I have loved art from a very young age. As I started researching art historians and curators, I realized that there are not many people of color in this profession. I made it my goal to help diversify the field as much as possible, and create spaces of diversity and inclusion in museums and galleries.”

Simmons, who is from Clinton, North Carolina, says her experiences at UNC Greensboro are some she will never forget:

“I was honored to receive the UNCG Guarantee Scholarship, which changed my life, and I will forever be grateful to Tyshea Lewis (Director of the Guarantee Scholars Program) for her encouragement and mentorship. I’ve made wonderful friends and great memories. A memory that I hold very dear to my heart is having the opportunity to attend the luncheon with Visiting Artist Nick Cave. Hearing his words and advice was very impactful, and I will always cherish that.”

Simmons says she appreciates the opportunities and faculty at UNC Greensboro, especially Dr. Elizabeth Perrill in CVPA’s School of Art, with whom she was a presenter at this year’s Conference on African-American and African Diaspora Culture and Engagement:

“I had a class with Dr. Perrill almost every semester since my sophomore year. She is an amazing professor and person. Dr. Perrill’s passion for her profession and teaching inspired me to really pursue a degree in art history. Maybe one day I will become a professor as well!”

In the fall, Simmons will attend Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to begin work on a Master’s degree in Art History. She says she is taking with her some lessons that will help her in art and life, in general:

“I gained valuable leadership and teamwork skills. UNC Greensboro taught me not only how to lead but also how to follow. My advice to fellow and future graduates is, in the words of Mahatma Ghandi, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’ ”

Looks like Maya Simmons is taking her own advice.

Photo: Maya Simmons after presenting at the 2020 Conference on African American and African Diaspora Studies