The lives of twins Cecilia and Dawnmarie Simmons were changed forever on June 11, 2009. Their parents, Jonathan, 47, and Undine, 46, were killed by a Ford Explorer driven by Joan Brown of Kentucky, who hit them while they were surveying the damage done to their vehicle, after it hit the guard rail on Highway 75 because a tire blowout.
Two years later the twins have continued to piece their lives back together. Enrolled in Southern Adventist University, the two are pursuing careers in education. From day one, the lives of twins Cecilia and Dawnmarie Simmons were filled with educators – their father, their uncle, their aunts, and their mother, who home-schooled them from elementary school through high school.
Believers in the importance of Christian community, the Simmons family, members of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church, involved their girls in many activities, including Adventurers, Pathfinders, and Bible Bowl. Cecilia and Dawnmarie always appreciated their unique educational experience, but didn’t realize how deeply it was a part of them until college.
For their associate’s degrees, the girls enrolled at a local community college. In keeping with their childhood experiences, they tried to get involved on campus, but found it difficult since so many events were held on Sabbath. When they enrolled at Southern Adventist University for their bachelor’s degrees, these limitations suddenly melted away.
“I had always wanted to be involved, and now everything was a possibility,” says Dawnmarie. “I could participate in whatever I wanted without a Sabbath conflict.” Dawnmarie’s first project was running for Senate. Nervous that she wouldn’t be able to balance her academic and extracurricular activities, she only half-heartedly campaigned, but her twin, Cecilia, who had faith in her abilities, secretly printed posters and urged people all over campus to vote for her sister. Dawnmarie won.
Things took off from there. Cecilia was soon getting involved herself, as a mentor for freshmen. Dawnmarie later became a resident assistant. Both girls participated in campus intramurals, led out in a women’s Bible study, and became officers in the campus chapter of the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI).
In the whirlwind of activities, the girls chose for their majors something that had been deep in their hearts for many years: education. The more they explored this field, the more they realized
God had been preparing them for it all along.
“My love for learning began in our home when my mother home schooled us,” says Cecilia. “It was definitely a labor of love. I hope to be as much of a blessing to my future students as my mother was to me.”