Zaire Simmonds ’26 selected as global award finalist

zaire simmonds

Photo Credit: Gaelen Morse

By Kennedy Ryan
February 16, 2024

Zaire Simmonds ’26, an education major from the Bronx, was selected as a top 50 finalist for the Chegg 2023 Global Student Teacher Prize. 

In fall 2022, Simmonds applied for the $100,000 prize award. A little under a year later he learned that he had been selected as a finalist among over 4,000 applicants worldwide, in recognition of his dedication to education and work as an activist, leader, and student teacher. 

“Looking at the other 49 people, including people leading their own nonprofits and becoming CEOs at 14, I felt this sense of validation for the work I’ve been doing,” said Simmonds. “I was the only person on the list from the Bronx. It was really an honor.”

Simmonds has always been passionate about education. He began teaching at 13, and served as a student teacher throughout middle and high school. At Brandeis, he quickly made an impact in the education program.

“When I got to Brandeis, the first thing I was looking for was community. I found that there was a small Black community on campus and a smaller pool of Black students within the education program,” said Simmonds. “I became an undergraduate department representative because my mission was to foster that community. The Aspiring Educators Program was an opportunity to do that.”

As a chapter of the National Education Association, the campus group discusses educational inequities and policy while encouraging students to pursue careers as educators. The group provides members with networking opportunities and educational resources.

Simmonds also continues to make an impact back home in the Bronx. He currently serves on a student council for the New York State Department of Education. 

After graduation, Simmonds plans to pursue opportunities as a teacher and hopes to eventually become an administrator in the New York education system. In everything he does, he strives to improve the education system for students. 

“Education is the one thing that drives the rest of your life,” said Simmonds. “It gives you the opportunity to take a seat at many different tables and shape the world in many different ways.”