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Simington learns inside, outside class
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Darius Simington completed his first semester at George Mason University in Fairfax in mid-December. In addition to learning in the classroom, Simington also said he has learned how to manage his time and network. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, January 20, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

(Editor’s note: The following is part of a continuing series of stories on Darius Simington of Martinsville and the challenges he faces and lessons he learns during his freshman year in college.)

Darius Simington said some people have done double-takes on seeing him now that he is home for the holidays after his first semester at George Mason University in Fairfax.

“People say I look like a man now,” said Simington, who has grown a mustache and beard and added a few pounds.

“I’m out of shape,” laughed the former football standout at Martinsville High School, adding that he hasn’t had much time to work out because of his studies. He averaged studying five to six hours a day outside of class in his first semester, he said.

Simington, 19, said he has learned some things during the first semester — and not just in his classes on English composition, Western civilization, precalculus, Mindful Living (well-being) and sociology.

He said he learned such things as not to procrastinate, the importance of time management and networking, to use academic resources available and to “always be on time” for class. He also learned that students who sit on the back row in class are more likely to fail because of distractions, and he learned the importance of having good interaction and relationships with professors, he said.

In addition, his parents, Clarence and Paulette Simington, have advised him “to do what’s right and make good choices; that I can be sociable, but know my limits; to keep my faith,” he said.

In an interview during the summer shortly before he left for George Mason, Simington said his goal the first year was to maintain A’s and B’s in all classes with at least a 3.4 grade point average.

He finished the first semester with mostly C’s, with an A in Mindful Living, he said.

Precalculus was his biggest challenge, he said. The first few weeks of the semester, he said he practically lived in the Math Center, a resource center.

Originally Simington planned to major in computer science, but now he plans to major in information technology, which requires less math and which he hopes will offer more career opportunities, he said.

Second semester, he said, he will try to improve his study habits, such as not procrastinating and “going the extra mile and not settling for average.” He also plans “to not get down on myself too much ... and give myself credit for what I’ve accomplished.”

Despite attending college in a much more populous area than his hometown, Simington has adjusted well. Having traveled helped, he said. “I love the environment (at George Mason). It’s lively, a lot of people.”

He has found the people at George Mason friendly and has made a lot of friends.

In addition to his studies, Simington played intramural flag football and was a member of National Society of Black Engineers and social/service organizations the Black Student Alliance and Gent Men, he said.

On weekends, Simington and friends have taken the shuttle or Metro to Fairfax or Washington, D.C., to see collegiate ball games or to go to clubs or to the National Mall, he said.

He said he frequently sees Devante Martin and occasionally sees Fatgezim Bela and Keenan Turner, all of whom graduated from Martinsville High School and attend George Mason.

The most difficult part of first semester was the academic adjustment, and the most enjoyable parts were meeting new people, networking and “knowing there is a bigger world outside of Martinsville,” Simington said.

“I try to be humble. I try to keep a positive attitude,” he said. “I’ve done that since I was young. It’s helped me a lot. Listening helps a lot, too — whether it’s a classmate, friend or professor. Learn about them and how they view life,” he said. In addition to learning from others, he tries to be a positive role model too, he said.

Being 4 1/2 hours away, Simington has come home three times this school year: Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said.

During Christmas break, he has seen friends and family and has enjoyed “being able to relax and get away from schoolwork.”

When second semester classes begin Jan. 21, Simington will take public speaking, English literature, business introduction to calculus, two information technology classes, information technology lab and probably art, he said. His goal is to earn a 3.0 to 3.3 grade point average.

“I have to get my academics done before I do anything else,” he said.

When asked how he has changed during his first semester of college, Simington said, among other things: “I did realize education was important. I really got a grasp of how my decisions will affect me in the future. So I need to make better ones and keep making better ones.”

He said he also has learned to “be my own person.”

At Martinsville High School, Simington got the Big M Trophy his senior year with a 3.7 GPA. That year, he also was named the national NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) Pre-College Initiative Student of the Year (male) and was awarded a $4,000 scholarship. He served as co-president, vice president, parliamentarian and B-Net officer of the Martinsville/Henry County Chapter of NSBE. He was named Mr. NSBE Jr. for Region 2 (several states) at the 2010 fall conference in Pittsburgh.

He was Piedmont District first-team defensive lineman and second-team all-region defensive lineman, both awards his junior and senior years. He also was captain of the varsity football team.


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