TOP 30: Andrew Simmons

Andrew Simmons
Major: Film and Media Studies, History, and Global Cultures
Year: 5
Age: 23
Hometown: San Francisco
In One Word: Outspoken

Andrew Simmons, as a 5th year triple major, offers a lot of wisdom to younger students, especially freshmen. In return for great advice, freshmen provide Andrew with positive energy – full of ambition that Andrew just can’t help but be around.

Andrew currently works with first years and transfers as a peer academic advisor. He is also the president of the fraternity he started.

In the near future, Andrew hopes to work at UCI, working with first year students. Ultimately, he wants to transition into screenwriting, being on movie sets and writing for films.

Henry Wang describes Andrew’s dedication to helping freshmen by saying “As a housing attendant and RA, Andrew made a positive impact on the lives of many freshmen. As a peer academic advisor, Andrew assisted many incoming freshmen and transfers with their academic transition.”

KS: Tell us about yourself.

AS: I’m originally from Northern California. I was actually born in Washington State, but I moved to California in 2000, so I’ve been here most of my life. I went to high school in San Francisco; I have an older brother who is a lot older than me, around 30. I was raised in a Chinese household, and that’s really important because that’s how I grew up as a kid. I was pretty involved in high school – I did track, tae kwon do for 9 years, and started a film club, which is actually still around. I got selected for a nationwide contest called Fresh Films – they took ten teams in ten different cities and they pitted them against each other for one week. All expenses were paid, actors are chosen for us, and we worked on a film for a week. That was an amazing experience especially at the young age of 17– basically being in charge of the set and everything. We didn’t win finals but I got to meet a lot of cool people. I was also ASB president in my school my senior year. I tend to be the person that does way too much. I hate being idle. I would intentionally do way too much just because it was fun.

KS: What have you accomplished on campus, and what do you hope to accomplish?

AS: I think that the film community at UCI is gaining traction – it’s become the second biggest major in the Humanities department, and now everyone wants to do film. There’s this huge underground film community at UCI, and we’re at this point now where the students are pushing the film and media studies department to cater to what they want to do, which is screenwriting, play production, and produce movies, whereas the major itself is very theory heavy. Having met with a lot of professors and talked with them, it’s really nice that they’re starting to respond to that, as I am seeing more production classes being added.

I do screenwriting. I love thinking of the world as a movie. When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be a director until I directed something and it didn’t turn out well, and then I thought I wanted to be an editor until I edited something and that didn’t turn out well either. I wanted to do all of these things, but then I realized that the screenwriter gets to do all of it. I love writing. The screenwriting community here is really cool too, because it’s also underground and small. Being here the last 5 years has been great because I’ve been able to help students out with their projects, and a lot of students ask for advice on their screenplays. People don’t know there’s an annual screenwriting festival, but it’s been happening for 20 years. I entered it last year, and became a big part of it, and I couldn’t enter it this year due to other commitments, but I still will help out with it because I really want to support the screenwriting community here at UCI. There are a lot of Asian American students that are film and media studies majors, and a lot of them are writing really great stories about their families and their lives. In the past few years, I’ve been able to help them craft their stories. I always enjoy getting emails from students that are starting to write, and I advise them what classes to take, or I offer to read over what they have written.

I also started a leadership fraternity, called Kappa Beta Zeta this year. It’s all about promoting leadership development and making sure students have the skills necessary for when they graduate, as well as providing a community space and brotherhood. Because the organization is new, there are mostly first and second years, and it’s nice to see that they’re at the beginning of their change, their experience. We do a lot of outreach with the organizations in the multicultural group council. I’m the current president, so a lot of what I do is just trying to set them up so that their transition in terms of getting more members or doing more philanthropy is solid.

I love multicultural dialogue, and I think it’s really important. I was a REACH facilitator, and I’ve done a lot of work with the Cross. I was also involved with Kababayan for two years – I love Kaba. I’m really involved because I think it’s important to have cross cultural dialogue, and it’s important to understand and appreciate other cultures. Before I came to UCI, I knew nothing about Filipino culture. But I got here, and I learned about the people, and I learned about the culture, and the history, and as a history major I learned about all these cultures. I love helping people figure out where they’re going, and their history and their culture.

There’s this program offered in the summer for incoming freshmen, called the Summer Multicultural Leadership Institute (SMLI) – I did that as a freshman, and I’ve staffed it a few times and loved it. I loved teaching younger freshmen about multicultural identity and awareness, and that it’s ok to have those conversations.

I do a lot of work with first years. I work right now with Undecided / Undeclared. First years come in, wanting to do everything but not knowing what to do at the same time. They all have these stories about how everyone in their families wants them to do something different, and in the springtime they figure out what they want to do. It’s really cute to see that process of their growth.

KS: Who or what do you feel has been most influential to you?

AS: I think the students I work with influence me. Their stories are very different, and they go through some difficult problems, whether it’s personal, family, or academic obligations. It’s very tough for a first year. The stories of the students I work with are amazing, and I’m inspired all the time by them. They have this youthful energy, and you can’t help but want to be around that. They want to major in everything, and minor in everything, and they ask so many questions. I just throw reality out the window and tell them they can do everything. Their energy is really awesome.

Writing inspires me, like really good writing and writers. I really respect people who can take the most mundane things and make them really great pieces of work. I’m inspired by the authors, and I’m also inspired by filmmakers, because taking a story from paper and making it live-action and realistic is very difficult. I’m always inspired by writers, directors, and producers who can rise up to the challenge and make it something worthwhile. One of my favorite directors is Chris Nolan because of how he can take something so complex and make it understandable.

I love US History. One of our past presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, was a great American leader. He had this way of negotiating social policy which I thought was really new. He brought in this era of progressivism, and he understood that government had a responsibility to the people and that the people had a responsibility to the government. We don’t live in a society like that anymore – it’s a little bit more cloudy now.

KS: If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what food would that be?

AS: Mac and cheese. Especially the kind that has bread crumbs on it, and you put it in the oven. It’s so good! It’s like the definition of comfort food. Homemade mac and cheese, I could eat that forever.

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    Asian Pacific-Islander Heritage Month (APIHM) is hosted by the Asian Pacific Student Association at UCI and features various programs, workshops, and events that celebrate the APIA culture and address pertinent issues in the APIA community.

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