Meet VALLEY’s Spring 2021 Campus Culture Section Opener: Lucy Simmonds

Photo by Luke Adams

Although the trends of manifestation and visualization of your goals have risen just recently, Lucy Simmonds has been doing it for years, and it led her all the way to Happy Valley.

Born and raised in England, Simmonds was obsessed with American culture growing up. She tried to get the American school experience any way she could, whether it was Disney movie nights with her sister or visiting her godparents and their kids in California every year. Soon enough, going to their football games on visits wasn’t enough anymore, and Simmonds knew she wanted to apply to colleges in the United States. 

However, the application process is not as simple as it is for U.S.-born students. Simmonds wasn’t the first person from her school to stray from tradition and apply to schools in the United States, but she was the first to do it without any help. Other students had previous connections, like siblings who went abroad or family members who live in the U.S. The school she was attending was not much help either, leading Simmonds in the wrong direction in where to apply. 

After the first round of school applications, Simmonds was only handed rejections.

“It was really hard. It was something so foreign to me,” Simmonds says. “It was the first point in my academic career that I’d failed.” 

The unexpected gap year that followed was full of refocusing and perseverance on her goal. Simmonds studied and retook the SATs as a way to self-guarantee she gave her dream everything she could have.

“It was so hard to be motivated because it was all by myself. The third time I did my SATs, I got the worst score out of all of them,” Simmonds says. “I remember getting my SAT scores and just crying my eyes out because I was like, ‘This is never going to happen. I’m never going to get in.’ It was just hurdle after hurdle coming for me.” These setbacks allowed for doubts to creep in, and Simmonds admits to looking at backup schools in England.

While navigating the unknown, Simmonds decided her gap year was also an opportune time to travel with a friend. While on holiday, news about admissions finally rolled in. Round two brought more rejection letters, a waitlist spot and finally news from Penn State. 

“I saw I got in, and I literally remember staring at my phone, like, ‘Oh my god. Oh my god, I got in!’ Which was crazy, and it was the best feeling ever, just like, everything had paid off. Three years’ worth of work finally paid off,” Simmonds says.

The barriers to achieving this dream, especially the lack of direction from her previous school, are part of the reason she is a Nittany Lion today. Simmonds notes that without the additional help, she grew into a person that felt comfortable traveling far from home on her own. It strengthened her confidence in her ability to go abroad for school alone, and in the end, it made her dream stronger and the payoff sweeter. 

Photo by Luke Adams

As a sophomore studying psychology and advertising, Simmonds has comfortably sat into her identity as a student.

“It was so rewarding, being here and loving it, it’s the best feeling,” Simmonds says. “Sometimes I forget and I need to remind myself that I did this.”

One continuing motivator during this uncertain time was her parents’ wisdom and Simmonds’ life motto: you can create any life you want to have. “Don’t ever think anything is unattainable,” Simmonds says. “You’ve got to always think anything is achievable and then you can [do it].”

Simmonds credits Penn State’s worldwide recognition and impressive alumni network as the initial draw to apply. She knew she wanted the dual experience of solid academics with all the bells and whistles of the American college experience.

“I love how passionate everyone is about Penn State; I like that. I think there’s something so special about how much people love their school.”

With a prominent Greek-life presence, nationally ranked sports teams and a tight community feel off-campus, Simmonds was sold. Currently, Simmonds has found her home away from home within her sorority, Delta Zeta, noting how the organization has helped with confidence in herself and her decision to journey so far away from home. “It helps make a big school feel a little smaller,” Simmonds says.

With manifestation and visualization a central part of her perseverance, there’s no surprise Simmonds is an active journal-keeper. Simmonds mentions how physically writing down her goals seems to help her the most in focusing her attention on a couple of key items and striving to achieve them. In the future, she aims to find work in sports marketing and spending most of her time here in the States.

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