Mom unfazed by new country, language in earning PhD

Anila Simon earns PhD with 4.0

Dec. 2, 2021 — HOUSTON — It has been a long journey from her home in a rural village in India to the urban sprawl of Houston — not to mention the challenge of learning a new language and figuring out modern conveniences — but mother of three Anila Simon has endured plenty, and soon she will receive a PhD in nursing science.

Simon, who came from Pampavalley, a small enclave near the river Pampa in India’s southwestern state of Kerala, is the first person in her family to come to America.

After first arriving, Simon overcame initial doubts over a new home with new customs and a new language. Every day was a learning experience for her as she found herself awestruck by modern conveniences, such as dishwashers and the like. She even questioned whether she was making the right types of lunch for her children and was reluctant to speak in her second language, English.

As a mother of three living in a new place, Simon found it hard to venture out of her comfort zone working as a nurse. Eventually, though, her love for learning and inspiration from a family of teachers propelled her to pursue more education to become a teacher herself.

Anila Simon teaches

Simon decided that Texas Woman’s University would allow her to fulfill her dream without compromising her life with her family. She earned a Master of Science in nursing education at Texas Woman’s. After that, she embarked on a journey toward a PhD.

“I love the person I became through the last 12 years at TWU,” Simon said. “I have become more knowledgeable, humble, resilient and confident. I’ve developed a more well-rounded world view.”

For Simon, there were challenges along the way. Both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer — her father with thyroid cancer and her mother with breast cancer. With both parents scheduled for surgeries, Simon traveled home to India to care for them while continuing her studies, something she said TWU made possible.

Simon completed the doctorate with a perfect 4.0 and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor Society, and TWU Epsilon Omega Epsilon.

Now with a PhD, healthy parents, and her family, Simon becomes Dr. Simon — a lifelong goal. Simon hopes the fact that she earned her PhD can inspire her family and others to do it too.

For now, she is not just the first in her family to come to America, but also the first to earn a PhD.

Media Contact

Joshua Flanagan
Digital Content Manager

Page last updated 3:46 PM, December 2, 2021