By: Sandy Ornelas
Assistant to the News Editor
Ann Simmons captivated audiences all around the world with her inspiring and truthful stories. A survivor of a suicide bombing in Baghdad and an attack in Nairobi, Simmons is a Los Angeles Times journalist who has risked her life multiple times for the sake of her job. The Ann Simmons Event was held on Monday, Feb. 24 in the Multi-Purpose Room at California State University, Bakersfield.
Simmons grew up in England and found a passion for writing and traveling at a young age. She took a class in high school in which she learned how to speak Russian. That ignited her love with Russian history and culture. Simmons wanted to become a foreign journalist because of her history teacher and famous England journalist, Katy Adie.
Simmons began her journalism career as a reporter for The Caribbean Times in England. She then went on to write for The Miami Herald in for two years until she got offered a job at Time Magazine.
When Simmons started working for Time, she began as a report researcher. She later became a reporter and Bureau Chief in which she wrote about political, economic and social issues in Africa.
Simmons told various stories to the audience and each story was descriptive and fascinating to listen to.
One story in particular was about when Simmons went to Sierra Leon in West Africa and interviewed a little girl who had her hand cut off. Simmons asked her what does she want to be when she grows up and the little girl replied, “I am waiting for my hand to grow back.”
Another story was about a rite of passage for Nigerian girls. The girls were put in a “fattening” room to gain weight. Simmons stated that it was refreshing to see a place that believes being voluptuous is beautiful in contrast to people here in the United States who are obsessed with image and being skinny.
Dahna Rasmussen, a sociology professor at CSUB, liked what Simmons talked about.
“She is wonderful. Her talk was about culture and that is what I teach, it was great,” said Rasmussen.
Dr. Elizabeth Jackson, a communication professor at CSUB, arranged for Simmons to speak on campus.
“She embraces the world with her experiences. She represents the globe and that is why I wanted to bring her here,” Dr. Jackson said.
Simmons stated that the most important lesson she has learned when telling human stories is to let the person express him or herself.
She said her favorite place she visited is Nigeria because everyone there had an opinion about whatever story she was writing.
Throughout her experiences around the world it became difficult at times for Simmons to continue on.
“What keeps you going is knowing that you are trying to inspire and you’re trying to teach and tell people stories and make sure that people understand a particular situation. I think what keeps you going also is the fact that if you tell a story, you know that some good will come of it,” Simmons said.
Simmons continues to work at the L.A. Times as a video journalist. She produces, reports, records and hosts online videos.