April 1, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 53°F


Scholarship gives students chance to travel to Africa

Beginning this summer, two Ithaca College students will have the opportunity to work in Africa as recipients of the Reginald Simmons Memorial Award.
The scholarship, created by Bob Iger ’73, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, will sponsor the students’ trip through Operation Crossroads Africa (OCA), a cross-cultural exchange program.

Iger announced the scholarship in October at the Capital Campaign kick-off. Iger is honorary chair of the campaign, which aims to raise $115 million for the college and its future projects. The scholarship is dedicated to the memory of Iger’s former classmate and friend, Reginald Simmons ’73.

“Reggie Simmons was one of my closest friends and his commitment to Africa was something I deeply admired,” Iger said via e-mail. “He devoted his entire adult life to Africa, working strenuously and with great sacrifice to help make Africa a

better place.”

In 1979, Simmons traveled to Africa with OCA. The experience marked the beginning of his interest in international affairs and his work as a development worker and representative for Africare, a nonprofit organization that specializes in aid to Africa.

“[Simmons] worked on a multitude of projects,” Iger said. “He never lost hope or optimism that one day Africa would be a better place to live.”

Recipients of the scholarship must be either Roy H. Park School of Communications students or politics majors. Graduating seniors are not eligible.

OCA has several programs across Africa in countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa, and winners will choose which nation they visit. The program runs from June 15 to Aug. 10 and features an orientation, six weeks of work and a week of travel within the host country.

Willis Logan, a representative from OCA, said the program has a profound impact on students.

“There are lasting lessons that emerge,” Logan said. “It’s an experience that gives people an opportunity to examine themselves, their culture and a new culture.”

Janice Levy, associate professor of cinema, photography and media arts, chaperoned an eight-week OCA trip to Madagascar in June 1994. She said she is excited by the opportunities the Reginald Simmons scholarship presents for students.

“You test yourself when you’re in a situation that’s different than what you’re used to,” Levy said. “You realize you’re capable of doing so much more than you ever thought possible.”

The deadline for applications is today. Dianne Lynch, dean of the Park School, said the process will be competitive.

“Given the nature of the award, we expect many students to submit applications,” Lynch said.

Working with OCA gives students an opportunity to see just how different their lives are from those in Africa, Logan said.

“It inspires people to be more focused about what they would like to do with their own lives,” he said.