Learn More about Author Darion Simmons

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .

Friday Night Lights
Describe your first kiss.
It was like any other kiss. I hate kissing though.
Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
I don’t have one. I really hate reading.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Sports, I love being around them, in them. I LOVE SPORTS.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
I would want to be the hulk. Why because he is the best superhero.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held. 

A quote that motivates you . . .  
Three Wishes . . .
<!–td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}I would wish for more wishes. Then I would wish for good hair genes. Finally I would wish for all of my wishes to go away and live my life the way it was supposed to be.

Favorite game you played as a child . . .

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
An experience to never forget where you came from.

Stay Positive

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; direction: ltr; color:Presenting her book The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls told us that she used to have a deep shame of her past life and that she tried to keep it a secret from everyone. In my honest opinion, I did not see the reason why she should have been ashamed of her past life. It was not her fault that her parents could not take better care of their children. When she said that when people would read her story she said, “I thought I’d lose everything once people found out my story.” This part made me sad because if people did not want to be her friend anymore because of the past she had, they were not the type of people she would need in her life.  

One saying I liked what she said was, “The truth is a liquid, not a solid. It takes on many shapes.” This statement is so true. The truth can be whatever you want it to be. You can form the truth, mold it, and make it your own shape. No one has to tell the whole truth, but he or she has the option of telling bits and part of the truth or all of the truth.

I loved how her favorite memory that she had as a child was when her father let her have the planet Venus as a Christmas present. Even though her father did not own Venus, the thought of letting her call it her own was so cute. She said it was a priceless treasure and that, “It is what you make of it.” Instead of being sad because her dad did not physically buy her a Christmas present, she treasured the idea that her dad was at least trying to give her something. It made me be more appreciative and have a different mindset on how I view life. It is what I make of it, and no one can say otherwise. 

Another lesson I learned from Jeannette Walls was when she said that when she was little she had a fear that some creature was hiding under her bed. She went and told her dad and instead of checking under the bed, they went to go look for the demon. She said that, “We should not run from our demons. Instead, harness your demon and use it to your advantage.” Her demon was her past and the shame she had from it. To face her demon, she wrote this book. This was inspiring because life should not be about running from your fears. I cannot learn from life’s lessons if I always run in the other direction. Facing my demons will only make me stronger as a person, and who knows, the outcome may be rewarding.

Jeannette Walls also told us that, “Everything in life is both a blessing and a curse. We get to choose which one we want to focus on.” It is true. We have the opportunity to either focus on the good or bad in our lives. If we have the decision to choose, why not choose to focus on the blessings? I loved how instead of her moping around and saying how her life sucked, she thought of her past as a blessing. She thought that she was the lucky one because her parents never made fun of their children’s dreams. Instead of focusing on the negative in her parents, she thought of the good in them and accepted them as who they were. Honestly, I am amazed that someone like her can be so accepting. Personally, I would have hated my parents and would have never wanted anything to do with them. I would have been so upset that they could not take care of me and that I could have had a better childhood. But this made me realize that we cannot change people. We cannot mold them into what we want them to be. Merely we just have to accept them for whom they are and focus on the positives in them. 

Lastly, I loved how she said that, “Secrets are like vampires. They suck the life out of you, but once you release them, poof, they are gone.” I loved this analogy because it was so vivid and so true. Secrets drain us. They bring us down. Once you tell your secrets, it is like a heavy weight has been lifted off your chest. Secrets do bring us down, and they are not healthy for us. 

All in all, I loved all her analogies, and she made me realize that someone that has had a negative childhood like her can still go far. It gave me this burst of energy to go out and do what I dream of doing. She was most definitely an inspiring speaker and writer.
By Annarose Dale
I am a freshman at McKendree University majoring in Business Administration and possibly Accounting.

Jeannette Walls Visits The Hett

I had the privilege of attending a speaker series at McKendree University last week.  The speaker was Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses and The Silver Star.  

Ms Walls gave a brief summary of her life, for the few (if any) in the audience that had not read The Glass Castle.  It had been a while since I had read the book. and she mentioned facts I had forgotten about – setting herself on fire while cooking a hot dog on the stove at age three, her father whisking her out of the hospital in the middle of the night, and while riding in a taxi in New York City realizing the homeless person digging through the trash was in fact her mother.  

Ms Walls had a difficult childhood to say the least, and her father was a huge part of the dysfunction. He drank to the point of not having food to for his children, yet Ms Walls came away from her childhood with an ability to dream and hope.  This she said came from her father.  Throughout her childhood, her father promised to build his family a glass castle, their dream house, when he finally made his fortune.  He taught his children to dream and the author felt that this shaped her and her siblings to be successful (the three oldest siblings anyway).  

She said that her fantasy when writing The Glass Castle was that a rich girl would read it and understand where the poor kids in class were coming from and then she hoped that a poor child would read it and realize there is hope, and that dreams are important to be successful.  Both fantasies have come true, as teenagers have given testimony Ms Walls changed their lives.

The audience was able to ask questions to Ms Walls.  A few things we learned:  her mother is now living with the author on her ranch, caring for the family’s horses.  She is still as eccentric as ever, and no one expects that to change.  The land in Texas is still in their possession.  There may be natural gas or oil but most likely it is just dry dirt like most of west Texas.  There will be a movie made, most likely by Lion’s Gate.      

Ms Walls is such an inspiring person, with an exceptionally inspiring story to tell.  She is down-to-earth and open about her past, and unashamed of it, although it has taken her years to reach that point.  Her speech and her story make me feel blessed with what I have and more aware and sympathetic to those that come from a different way of life.
By Karen MacMillan

Why Couldn’t It Wait?

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The moment before I nailed into the van that was stopped in the middle of the highway, my only thought was “I am going to be in so much trouble.” What makes the situation worse is that it was entirely my fault. I knew I should not have been texting and driving at the same time; I do not know why I just did not check my phone before I stepped into the car. This whole accident could have been avoided, but it was not, and I will always regret that mistake.
That night, I had worked a five-hour shift. When another female employee came in to relieve me, I darted out of the store as fast I could. Phone, purse, and keys in hand, I scuttled toward my car, eager to return home and take a warm, relaxing shower. After starting my car, I turned on my phone to look at all the missed alerts I had received while I was occupied at work . . .. Thirteen missed texts; I was missing out on important gossip! As I turned onto the highway, I began reading the messages. I looked down at the screen for several seconds then glanced back at the road just to ensure that I was not about to plunge into a ditch or even into a field. As I recall, I was looking down, analyzing a message, but as I glanced up, it was too late. Stopped completely, about a hundred yards ahead of me was a van. At that moment, I was too much in shock to respond in any way; I knew in a couple seconds I was going to collide into that vehicle. I remember my only thought being “I am going to be in so much trouble.” I knew my parents would be livid with me once they found out I had caused the accident because of my carelessness. They had always told me the severity of texting and driving, but I failed to listen to them.
I could feel my body becoming so tense, not being able to move my muscles, much less even blink. The crash happened so fast; as I plowed into the back bumper, my head hit the steering wheel, and my phone flew against the windshield. 
When I finally acquired the courage to look up, I was staring at the back end of this van. As the elderly man stepped out of the driver’s side, I opened my door, my hands shaking uncontrollably. We agreed to pull into the nearest clearing to move ourselves, and our damaged vehicles, off the road. The man explained that this was no ordinary van, but a handicapped van that his wife used to commute to and from therapy; it was her only source of transportation since she had recently been placed in a wheelchair. A thousand thoughts went through my head, but I could not say a word. My mouth was frozen in place; I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not make a sound. Right then, I started to cry uncontrollably. The elderly man gave me a hug and told me to call my dad, then continued to comfort me until he showed up at the scene. Surprisingly, my dad was not as upset as I thought he would be. His main concern was my safety, as well as the passenger in the opposite car. Fortunately, we had the situation taken care of without calling the police. 
The worst part of the accident, for me, was how I affected another person’s life without her even being there. I had dented in the back bumper so far, that the doors were jammed shut. The elderly man’s wife was not able to travel to or from any physical therapy or counseling for at least a week. Still to this day I think, “Why was it so important for me to check my phone?” I had been working a long shift, and I lived the next town over. The damage was expensive, and we paid it “out of pocket” so my insurance did not skyrocket. My parents did not take my phone or even ground me from my car because they knew that the guilt I felt was punishment enough. If the person texted me five hours ago, I am sure that she could have waited another five minutes. In all seriousness, I do not even have the slightest idea to this day what that text message had said as I was reading it.  
I now know that what I do can have an effect on so many other people. I take full responsibility for the accident I caused, and there is not a day that goes by where I do not think about it when I pass the scene. If I could take it back, I would in a heartbeat. Putting oneself at risk is one problem, but putting another person’s life is selfish. I did not mean to harm anyone, yet by looking at my phone for a few seconds I harmed others. It does not matter that they were not harmed physically, but mentally and emotionally they had been. If I could do it over, I would have kept my phone off until I had reached home. There is no excuse for anyone to be looking down, or even talking on the phone, while driving. I promise;  it can wait. 
by Kailee Rule
I am a student at McKendree University double majoring in Accounting and Business Administration.