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Fighting for equity in criminal justice: alumna Lopacious Simms pursues law and order

Alumna Lopacious Simms smiles after graduating in 2015. Simms is currently studying criminal justice at Southeast Missouri State University.

Courtesy of Lopacious Simms

Alumna Lopacious Simms smiles after graduating in 2015. Simms is currently studying criminal justice at Southeast Missouri State University. "I grew up watching ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Law and Order’ with my family. In fact, I re-watch them all the time," Simms said. "My love for criminal justice just continued to grow especially when I got into high school."

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Growing up, 2015 alumna Lopacious Simms could not get enough of criminal investigation shows. But after watching the Ferguson riots of 2014 unravel, Simms, a native Saint Louisan, knew that she wanted to work in criminal justice.

“I grew up watching ‘Criminal Minds’ and ‘Law and Order’ with my family. In fact, I re-watch them all the time. My love for criminal justice just continued to grow especially when I got into high school,” Simms said.

While at Parkway West, Simms joined the African American Student Advocacy Program (ASAP) to work for equity in schooling.

“During ASAP meetings, a group of us talked regularly about the challenges that we African Americans face at school and how we can rise above them. One challenge is, I know that certain teachers look at African American students and don’t have the same standards for them as white students. Although I haven’t had that happen to me as far as I can remember, it is a prevalent issue in schools and society. This got me thinking and talking aloud about such issues,” Simms said.

After high school, Simms chose to pursue her interest in equity and studied criminal justice at Southeast Missouri state in Cape Girardeau, MO.

“I chose Southeast because of the in-state tuition and its overall affordability. Looking back, the amount I have learned at Southeast has gotten me so far. I find my classes challenging and intriguing. I have had to take out two loans, but it shouldn’t be a problem to pay them off because I work two jobs, at Mobile On the Run and TJ Maxx as a sales associate,” Simms said.

One challenge is, I know that certain teachers look at African American students and don’t have the same standards for them as white students. Although I haven’t had that happen to me as far as I can remember, it is a prevalent issue in schools and society. This got me thinking and talking aloud about such issues.”

— Lopacious Simms

To expand her knowledge of criminal justice, Simms joined multiple clubs at Southeast.

“I am in CJA, the Criminal Justice Association, which is a club at college where students go on field trips to jails and courts. It gave me the opportunity to go to the nearby jail in Cape Girardeau. One of the leaders of CJA was on the execution board, and the other was once the Chief Officer–or ‘CO’–of Cape Girardeau’s prison, the position just under the Grand Warden,” Simms said.

Simms also joined the Black Student Union Corporation (BSUC) at Southeast to expand her community and support.

“I work with my peers to form ideas for events, such as forums, for discussions for the BSUC. These events include nearly anything, from water balloon fights to informational meetings,” Simms said. “Southeast Missouri State is a PWI, or a Predominantly White Institution, as opposed to a HBCU, or a Historically Black College or University, but there is enough of us African Americans to support each other and have a sense of community.”

After finishing from Southeast Missouri State, Simms plans on entering the police force in either Texas or Virginia.

“In Texas or Virginia there is a real need for cops, and housing doesn’t cost too much,” Simms said. “Overall, there is a better standard of living for police officers. Recruiters have come by and shown us how large the force is in those states, and that there is still a demand for officers and detectives.”

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Fighting for equity in criminal justice: alumna Lopacious Simms pursues law and order