A. Simone Graham bucked tradition. Graham is the sixth of ten children in her family. Her older brothers and sisters, for the most part, had followed the same path. “Our family had a system going,” she said. “Everybody is pretty much doing the same thing. They go to Georgia State University, graduate, then get a job in the area. I didn’t want to have the exact same story.”
Graham’s brother enlisted in the Navy and is stationed in Bremerton. She came out to visit and decided she liked what she saw. “I originally thought I’d make my way to Seattle but I fell in love with Tacoma,” she said.
The cross-country move came with some unique challenges. Graham is used to living in a crowded space with lots of other people. “In the beginning I was like, ‘why is everything so quiet?’ I didn’t know how to just be by myself.”
This is Graham’s first, and possibly last, year at UW Tacoma. She attended school at Georgia State and comes to campus as a transfer. The 23-year-old plans to graduate with a degree in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences. “I like this degree because it’s pretty general,” she said. “I also appreciate that it puts an emphasis on people which is important to me.”
Graham wants to be a counselor and is considering attending graduate school. The desire to help others stems from her upbringing. “Being a middle child, you’re always kind of a mediator,” she said. “I just feel like I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different types of people in my life. People tend to talk to me about their problems whether I get paid or not.”
Education is important in the Graham family. A. Simone’s father and mother grew up in the South during the 1960s. Her father attended some college but didn’t finish. Her mother earned a bachelor’s degree. “They made education a big priority,” said Graham. “They recognized that school was a stepping stone to getting anywhere in life.”
Graham didn’t so much buck tradition as start a new one. Some of her siblings have followed her to the area and a few more are considering making the trek. “I’d love it if they all came,” she said. “I’ve had a great experience out here and I’m convinced my life would have been very different if I stayed in Georgia."
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org