Pastor Charles Simmons Jr. empowered students by telling his life story in “Lifetime of a Slave” on Thursday night in the College of Business.
The presentation was part of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity’s Black History Month events.
Simmons founded the ROK Church in Conway in 2010. The church’s theme is “helping you build your life on a solid foundation.”
Simmons was born and raised in Texas, where he struggled as a child from having no water or lights.
When he was 9 years old, his dad left the family.
Simmons’ mother pushed education, encouraging her kids to be successful even when they couldn’t see that.
“You can’t allow your experiences or where you grew up affect your success,” Simmons said.
NPHC Chaplain Garland Yarber said, “Personal development will supersede and elevate past any of your disappointments.”
Simmons said he was a problem child growing up.
He played football day and night during his high school years. Living a double life, he was a football player and selling drugs in the streets.
He said he never studied or did his work but always passed his classes because the teachers didn’t want to flunk him because he was on the football team.
Simmons ran into some teachers who didn’t care about his football talent, but cared more about his education, so they refused to pass him.
He got kicked out of high school his senior year after getting into trouble in the streets.
Simmons said he wanted to get into college on football scholarships but couldn’t because his grades were too low.
He wasn’t able to play or get into college initially, with his 16.5 ACT score.
Simmons was the starting linebacker when he finally got into Southern Arkansas University, but his scholarships were gone.
However, Simmons said he went into college with the same mentality he had in high school – not doing work and partying. Simmons was kicked out of college because he had several warrants.
“God showed [me]favor through all [this]mess,” Simmons said.
Simmons started going to church after being in college a while and said he began to change his life.
Simmons adopted a positive mentality, saying he never would have been who he is today if it hadn’t been for his mother’s push for education.
After graduating, he got his master’s degree.
Simmons said, “The best thing you can every give your family, friends and others is the best of yourself.”
He left students with the following quote: “Find fulfillment in the privilege in your journey and not in the end.”