Alumni Profile: Deron Simmons G’02, ’06

Deron Simmons G'02, '06 (1)Briefly describe your path after leaving St. Francis. 
After leaving St. Francis, I joined the school that the wonderful Kit Llewellyn recommended I visit as a junior in high school: Mercer University. I declared my major in computer engineering, and on the second day of my freshman year, a professor said “Look to your left, then look to your right. Two-thirds of your classmates won’t be here next year.” There were 375 people in that classroom that day. On graduation day, there were only four of us (including St. Francis’ own Brad Green G’02, ’06). 

Looking back at your time at St. Francis, what stands out?
On the Goshen Campus I remember thinking, “Wow, there aren’t many people here who look like me,” but people didn’t believe in me any less and I didn’t achieve any less. I’ve received a lot of awards in my lifetime and they’re all in drawers – except for those Eagle Cards. They’re on a wall at home. I promise you that.

On the Downtown Campus, I recollect on how much extra school work and homework we had compared to our peers at other institutions. I’m thankful for that because my first two years of undergrad were a breeze.

Do you recall a specific teacher or friend that influenced you in some way?
Parents, students, and friends of St. Francis, if you don’t read anything else in this blurb, read this: St. Francis School has the best faculty, staff, administrators, coaches, and educators in all of Greater Louisville. Any success that I have, I don’t see it as my own. I see it as ours because so many people made an investment in my education with nothing to ask in return.

Deron Simmons '06

Deron Simmons in 1996

How was your experience at St. Francis a factor in determining your career path?
I wasn’t very artistic, nor was I the best musician. I wasn’t a great historian, a great mathematician, or a great scientist. I was far from the strongest athlete and I struggled with my languages, but I have a thriving career because of the skills I was taught at St. Francis. I learned how to collaborate, problem solve, accept challenges, and exercise my mind. I discovered how to be a servant leader and to pursue excellence even though it may never be obtained. I mastered customer orientation, how to deal with ambiguity, and how to adapt to change. I absorbed how to be an effective coach by watching effective coaches. I acquired how to listen so that I might understand, how to give unconditionally, and how to influence others through love.

What are the highlights of your career thus far?
I can talk about the awards, the acquisitions I helped integrate, the technologies I created, and my many inventions, but all of those fail in comparison to the work I’ve done for others for free. I enjoy volunteering. I especially enjoy a particular type of volunteering. I don’t mind feeding the hungry or painting a temporary housing shelter for the homeless, but when I can give my expert training and professional skills to an organization for free, it’s empowering. It’s humbling! Tens of thousands of dollars they would have paid an agency are saved to be reinvested in the community. Building products for people to use those products for purposeful work is the ultimate highlight of my career.

How do you define success?
If the amount of positive influence one has on others in his/her lifetime is greater than the opposite, then he/she is successful. The real question is how does one contribute to that success? Befriend a stranger. Sponsor someone. Handwrite a card of encouragement and mail it to the address of someone you don’t know. Do a chore for your neighbor. Forgive – even if it’s not your fault. Hug somebody and then hug another. Make a personal sacrifice so that someone else might benefit. Laugh because it’s contagious. Smile as wide as you can, then do it all again.

What’s next for you?
I live 1,800 miles away from Louisville, but I want to do more for my city. If I can’t be there in person, then I can make an investment. If I can’t make a financial investment, then I can open up my network. If my network is unavailable, then I can advocate. Anything I can do to progress the home of which I’m most proud, please let me know.