Roxbury woman, first African-American BC administrator receives honorary degree

Roxbury resident Sylvia Q. Simmons, retired president of American Student Assistance Corporation, who, in 1966, became the first African-American administrator at Boston College, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston College at the University’s Commencement Exercises on May 23.

Simmons’ life work has been dedicated to making education an achievable goal for all. As president of American Student Assistance Corporation, she oversaw an organization that helped students and families finance the cost of college education. She also served as associate dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges and director of financial aid and associate dean for women’s education at Radcliffe College. She was associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts and a lecturer at Boston University. She also co-authored Student Loans: Risks and Realities.

A graduate of Manhattanville College, Simmons received both a master’s degree and doctorate from Boston College. Her affiliation with the BC includes service as a trustee, trustee associate and founding member of the Council for Women at Boston College.

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