The inaugural Elizabeth Award was presented to Leah Hoveln ’18 at the main campus spring commencement on April 28. Hoveln, center, is pictured with Bryan Simons and Helen Dale Coe Simons ’65

By Ann Muder

Photos by Kaci Smart

This story appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Affinity Magazine. Click here to check out the complete magazine.

Helen Elizabeth Simons is remembered by her family and friends as a wise soul who lived with kindness, leadership and love. In her memory, the newly established Elizabeth Award will recognize exceptional young women graduating from Columbia College. Simons, daughter of Board of Trustees Vice Chair Helen Dale Coe Simons ‘65, passed away at the age 24 following a car accident in 1996. She was a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and was employed in the Executive Management Training program for Neiman Marcus in Dallas. “She was a baby born loving life,” Simons says. “She always had a happy spirit and an undying respect and affection for people.”

“It means so much to us to share Elizabeth with everyone. It’s amazing that one young lady from Texas will influence the lives of other young women from all over the world.” – Helen Dale Coe Simons ’65

The Elizabeth Award was established by her family – her mother, Dale; father, James K. Simons; grandmother, Helen “Miss Boo” Cates Neary ’38; and her brothers, John and Bryan Simons.

“We’re very honored that Columbia College would consider helping us set up this scholarship for her,” Dale Simons says. “The values of Columbia College are values that she shared as well. We are so gratified that the memory of her spirit will live forever.”

The Elizabeth Award will be given annually to a distinguished graduating senior female student who is 30 years old or younger and has outstanding accomplishments in leadership, volunteerism, community service and involvement with the Columbia College community.

This recognition will include a cash award and will be acknowledged at the Honors and Awards convocation. Students at any Columbia College location who meet the qualifications are eligible. The family hopes that this award will continue to serve as an example for young women to get involved in their community and pursue leadership opportunities.

To make a gift to support the Elizabeth Award, please visit