Sonya Simmons, Class of 2019

Sonya in front of the Taj Mahal in India (above).

Sonya preparing for graduation.

Sonya Simmons

High School: Notre Dame Preparatory, Class of 2019

Building Bridges Advocate: Diamond Cannady (Notre Dame Preparatory, Class of 2009 and Building Bridges Alumnae)

College: University of Detroit Mercy; Double B.A. in Criminal Justice and Psychology (May 2023)

Sonya, who is originally from Detroit, moved to Pontiac for one year as an 8th grader. Her plans were to return to Detroit at the end of the year to attend one of the top Detroit high schools, but her 8th grade teacher recommended Notre Dame Preparatory. Once she found out about Building Bridges, she asked herself, “How many people get an opportunity like this?” That question is one that still guides her decision to take risks and try new things today.

As a graduate of NDP and the Building Bridgesprogram, Sonya felt more than prepared for college–even as the first person in her immediate family to go to college. Not only did she not feel the need to worry about her academic readiness, but she felt more than prepared to advocate for herself, manage her schedule, seek resources, and complete important financial documents, as she had been doing all of this herself throughout high school. She felt so prepared that she jumped right into every opportunity available to her. From sports to student organizations to leadership roles to travel experiences, she truly did it all!

She credits her involvement with Building Bridges for helping her realize how important community is…how important it is to have people outside of your family who pour into you. “Knowing you truly have a support system will take you as far as you want to go,” she says. She specifically pointed to Ms. Parker, Mr. Porterfield, and her advocate Diamond for having a huge impact on her life. She says, “The talks I’ve had with them are lessons that have honestly gotten me through most of the hardships in my life. I wish I could express in words how much they’ve had a hand in who I am today.”

Future Plans: Sonya is not 100% sure about specific plans for the future, but is currently working full-time for Urban Neighborhood Initiatives as a Success Coach. She is hoping to attend graduate school and remain in the community development or non-profit space, possibly in urban agriculture.

Fun Fact: Among other things, Sonya’s bucket list items include writing a book, hosting a Ted Talk, living in a different country, and whatever else her heart desires.

How can you help Sonya?

Sonya is looking to grow as a professional and is looking for mentorship and connections in the community development and non-profit arenas. She would like support in carrying herself in a professional and meaningful way in order to build her personal, professional, and financial profile.