Leading by Example

Five Questions with Margaret Simor ’84

by  Serena Pappas, Office of Development Communications

Margaret Simor arrived at USF as a first-generation scholarship student. Her journey from USF's School of Nursing led her to a prestigious role as a Nurse Administrator. A proud alumna and dedicated member of the Women in Leadership Philanthropy Advisory Board and USF Board of Trustees, Margaret's mission is to give back and pave the way for future generations.

What does “Changing the World From Here” mean to you? 

I love this motto because although it might imply that “From Here” means you must be physically somewhere, I really feel that “From Here” is synonymous with “From My Heart.” Prospective students and their parents are inspired by those words and can’t wait to begin their journey to bring change to the world. We have over 120,000 living alumni spread across the globe, and I can’t help but feel that when many see those words, it elicits a feeling deep in their hearts relating to the experiences they had while at USF.

Looking back at your time at USF and the years spent after graduation, what is the impact that USF has had in your life thus far? 

As a child of immigrants and a first-generation college student, USF opened the door to the possibility of education through scholarships and financial aid. Without those, my path would have been different. While at USF, I had many of the same experiences that other first-generation students have today. I lived in a dorm, had various work-study jobs, attended sporting events, joined a sorority, and worked as a resident advisor in the dorms. I also experienced homesickness and terrible anxiety and never stopped worrying about how or if I would have enough money to make it to graduation. But I knew if I made it to graduation, my nursing degree would be in high demand from a university whose graduates were highly regarded and sought after. I am thankful for the opportunities my USF education afforded me, and I’m so very happy to pay it forward.

Was there anyone at USF who influenced you in your professional life? How?

So many of my professors and instructors were influential, but if I had to name one, it would be Dr. Michael Cavanagh who taught Abnormal Psychology. During high school, our city was rocked by the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the subsequent trial of Dan White, and civil unrest in the wake of the verdicts. Dr. Cavanagh played the recordings of Dan Whites confession and there were great discussions both in and out of the classroom as many controversies had arisen as a result of the so-called “Twinkie defense” and the perceptions around his conviction and sentencing. To this day, I think about our teachings around the various diagnoses and therapeutic options that were foundational for our psychiatric and community health rotations, and the need for empathy for those suffering from mental illness.

What inspires you to give back to Women in Leadership & Philanthropy? 

Quite frankly, it’s the fact that we do what we say we're going to do! I feel so very fortunate that the university made a specific investment in our female-identifying alumnae, students, faculty, and staff by creating Women in Leadership & Philanthropy back in 2014. We’ve seen its impact through the increasing number of women on our Board of Trustees and on other integral boards and committees on campus, the continued success of our annual symposium, and the generosity of women who give at all levels. I attended the recent Silk Speaker Series event and was reunited with several of our board members! It was a joy-filled reunion after nearly two years of Zoom meetings, and it underscored the depth of friendship and the meaningful connections we have made through Women in Leadership & Philanthropy, thanks to USF.

What advice would you give to our young alumni?

Stay grounded in our shared mission of “being for and with others” and bring this with you to your new job and into your communities. Stay connected with USF — you have access to many benefits as alumni. Join NetworkUSF and connect with other alumni in your region, your profession, or an identity and affinity group. Mentor a student, and share your experiences and how you persevered and succeeded. Mostly, remember that as an alumnus of USF, you will always be able to Change the World from wherever “Here” is for you. 

To join alumnae like Simor, consider giving to a USF scholarship, and sign up for the Women in Leadership & Philanthropy newsletter.