Daniel Symonds '11
Hometown: Maplewood, NJ
High School: Columbia High School
Major: Sociology and anthropology, history
Possible Career: Undecided
Daniel Symonds founded Chester Noise, a music production program at WSRN that works with Chester, Pa. high school youth, in collaboration with the Chester Police Activities League. He spent a summer in India studying Hindi and working with the New Youth Collaborative for Rural Development, a progressive organization that facilitates grassroots organizing and natural resource management in Southeastern Rajasthan. At Swarthmore, he is active in War News Radio, the Vertigo-Go improv comedy troupe, Students for a Democratic Society, and is the financial policy representative on Student Council.
In His Own Words
Describe yourself in five words or less.
"Energetic, curious, sprightly, gregarious, open-minded"
What have been the most valuable Evans Scholars program experiences for you?
"One of my most formative experiences through the Evans program has been my summer teaching in New Orleans. I had the pleasure of discovering New Orleans and becoming comfortable in a new city, and at the same time I learned through repeated error and reflection just how difficult teaching is. My New Orleans summer galvanized my longstanding interest in education, and made clear to me that either through community or union organizing, or in more formal classroom settings, I want to devote my time to empowering others to recognize the strength of their own ideas. After spending last summer in rural Rajasthan, India, thanks to the generosity of the Evans Scholars Program, I grew to appreciate the difficulty and importance of long-term committment to people, projects, and ideas."
What was the most transformative class you have taken?
"Prof. Wagner-Pacifici's Social Inequality course forever changed the way I think about society. Her course introduced me to the many axes of social stratification and the ways in which individuals are perpetually denied their rights to human dignity and happiness. More importantly, Social Inequality informed my views not only on why inequality is so rampant in the world, but how to work to reduce it."
What impact do you want to have on the world?
"A positive one. With luck, I'll find some way to maintain my happiness and that of the people around me. Maybe, if everything else works out, I'll be part of some change that gets remembered for generations. For the moment, I don't presume to have the answers to what the world needs or what I can do to help. As I work to raise my own awareness, I'll try to share whatever seems most valuable."
Name a person you most admire.
"Ella Baker was one of the Civil Rights Movement's key strategists and lead organizers. She was instrumental in the formation of SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee], and pushed Dr. King and the SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] towards a more class-based critique of U.S. racism. But for all her hard work and wisdom, Ms. Baker doesn't get half the recognition of her celebrity peers. Baker struggled through her life purely for the sake of others, and never sought out personal popularity. Ella Baker's quiet devotion, her unwavering committment to something greater than herself, and her strength to work against popular opinion make her one of my favorite people ever."
What are you proudest of in your life so far?
"I'm proud of not being too sure of myself, of being able to admit when I'm wrong, and, more and more, to know when to ask help from other people. I'm proud of the things I know, and I'm also proud to know that there is an ever-expanding frontier of things I don't understand. I'm also proud of my faith in people."