“Ink or Graphite and a Piece of Paper”


Joshua “Josh” Simmons ’19 of Braintree, MA, is a Wheelock College Communications and Media Literacy major, with Daniel “Dan” Owusu, Wheelock College instructor of Communications and Media Literacy, as a mentor. As such, he has studied and will continue to study writing, music, and animation. He passionately considers each to be art and art to be an expression of self. With art, says Josh, we share who we are, helping us to know one another beyond race, creed, and economic status.

In the class Media as a Tool for Social Change, Susan Owusu, director and instructor of Communications and Media Literacy, instructs her students to each create a blog with a specific purpose. Josh named his blog A Pencil and a Dream to reflect his strong belief that, if you have a pencil (or a pen), you have the tool necessary to begin to make a dream a reality; writing your thoughts down makes them tangible, which makes your dream tangible. Josh is one of eight siblings whose mother worked three jobs when his father was unable to work. Sometimes, a pencil is all that he did have, but he believed it could lead him anywhere while validating him in the process. He writes in A Pencil and a Dream: “There’s gold in your chicken scratch.”

Topics of A Pencil and a Dream include — among many others — “Old School or New Tech” and “Different Kind of Presentation.” In the former, Josh discusses the use of pen or pencil and paper as opposed to a keyboard as writing tools. While not ruling out a keyboard, Josh personally finds writing on paper to be a more personal experience. He finds that physically drawing each letter etches his thoughts more deeply into his memory for a more profound connection with his piece. Josh also touts the computer as a quicker writing tool that accommodates less hand and finger fatigue.

Because Josh helped to build a recording studio on the Wheelock College campus, he has afforded himself the option to use words in an alternative manner to creatively present assignments and spread socially conscious messages. He writes about this in his blog entry “Different Kind of Presentation.”

Dr. Mary Battenfeld, Wheelock College associate professor of Humanities, led Josh’s Native American Literature class. She asked the class to deliver, in groups, a presentation on Singing up the Mountain, a traditional Navajo story. Josh, with his group, wrote and recorded rap lyrics to tell the story.

Josh also studies animation with Professor Daniel Owusu, and enjoys generating landscapes and characters for video games.