Why I Give:
Veronica Simmons

Why Give?

Why do people choose to contribute their time and resources to Duke Doing Good? The reasons are as varied as the schools, nonprofits and neighborhoods that benefit from these gifts.

Veronica Simmons

Headshot of Veronica Simmons outside at American Tobacco
Veronica Simmons, Senior IT Analyst
Duke Office of Information Technology

DG giving category: Schools

Why do you give?
I love to give because I’ve been given to. I come from a very humble background and a poor family, as I was one of six siblings and I didn’t have enough as a child. I feel very blessed to be where I am today.

If it wasn’t for people who had helped me, I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I’m doing today. I’m very, very grateful, and that’s why I give. I know that giving makes a difference as it did in my life, and giving through Duke collectively can go to a greater good than me just giving individually.

Why do you give specifically to Schools?
I think education is one thing that makes the biggest difference in someone’s life, as it did in mine. My mother and grandmother were both school teachers, and they taught me the importance of education and being independent.

When I arrived here alone at 26, I had a master’s degree in education from the University of Lucknow and had about five years of teaching experience. I came here with just a suitcase and $20, leaving my home and family behind, but I had made that decision a long time ago. I remember when I was 8 years old, I loved geography and would study the atlas for hours, wanting to go to North America. When an opportunity presented itself that I could learn about computers at an American college, I obtained a leave of absence from my teaching job and came to Durham and enrolled at Durham Tech.

My family was so sad that I was leaving, but I knew that it was the best thing for me. I saw that I didn’t really have a future there – There were so many inequalities. The living standards were low and society put a lot of pressure on women. I had a good life, but I wanted better, so I came here and I went to Durham Tech and took several computer programming classes.  After a year and a half, Durham Tech hired me to teach since I had a master’s in education and I really enjoyed helping students in the Computer Lab. I taught computer programming there for seven years.

What does it mean to you to be a part of Doing Good?
I feel grateful. I feel like I really should be doing something meaningful to make a difference in someone else’s life. Giving comes back to you full circle; I really believe that. It’s happened to me.