At a Glance

Year: '26
Major: Political Science and Biology
Activities: Honors College, River Hawk Scholars Academy, Immersive Scholarship

Biology BS

As a biology major, you will gain the knowledge, skills and critical thinking needed for a successful career in modern biology and related fields.

Political Science BA

As a political science major, you will gain the knowledge and skills to engage in the complex realm of national and international politics.

Political Science and Biology student Sean Simonini grew up in a trailer park in Billerica, Massachusetts, in the gritty, blue-collar section of a mostly middle-class town. 
His dad is a carpenter, and his mom works in a hotel. As a teenager, Simonini saw how his parents struggled to budget, buy a home and save for retirement. They had never learned basic money management skills – and, Simonini realized, neither had he.
“I knew a lot of kids whose parents had 401(k)s, savings accounts,” he says. “I could tell you about complex parabolas, or why the color yellow is so significant in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ but I couldn’t tell you a thing about credit scores.”
Simonini, a top student, vowed to change that for himself and other high school students, first in Billerica and then statewide. First, he got elected by his peers as the student representative on Billerica’s school board, where he successfully advocated for a requirement that every Billerica Memorial High School student take a financial literacy class. 
“Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, and we aren’t doing anything to level the playing field until we address this issue,” he says.
Sean Simonini being interviewed on WBZ CBS News with a laptop in the background showing a screen with the words "MASR, The Massachusetts Association of Student Representatives, Student Voice Is Essential."

View: Sean Simonini supports a bill that would make a financial literacy class a requirement for every student in every district.

Next, he co-founded the Massachusetts Association of Student Representatives to build a coalition of student school board representatives across the commonwealth. He made friends in the Statehouse and built a political network.
In summer 2022, before his first year at UML, Simonini interned in U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan’s Lowell office and campaigned for aspiring state Rep. Ryan Hamilton ’20. Hamilton won – and told Simonini he was welcome to come back and work for him anytime.
By then, Simonini had begun studying political science at UMass Lowell. He says he chose UML over several other public and private universities in part because he was offered a full scholarship and the opportunity to join the Honors College and the River Hawk Scholars Academy, UML’s support program for first-generation college students. But mostly, he says, he liked UML’s racial and ethnic diversity – and the university’s reputation.
“UMass Lowell is about the grit, the work ethic,” he says. “It’s everybody on an equal playing field. I love that mission.” 
Simonini also was awarded a $4,000 Immersive Scholarship, which he could use after his first year to do research with a faculty member, study abroad or take advantage of a community-based internship. 
He used it to work in Hamilton’s office in summer 2023. His project: research, draft and build support for a bill that would require every high school student in Massachusetts to take a financial literacy class. 
Simonini spoke on the bill at a January 2024 Statehouse hearing, and he will continue to advocate for it until it passes. His advocacy has also won him speaking engagements and media attention.
Meanwhile, Simonini has become equally committed to a new goal: helping to cure or treat ALS, a progressive and invariably fatal neurodegenerative disease. Simonini had watched his beloved aunt, his father’s sister, die of ALS in August 2022, and his maternal grandfather had also died from the disease.
Several months after his aunt’s death, on a visit to the Veterans Administration-Boston University-Sports Legacy Institute Brain Bank at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts, a doctor showed him a slide of the brain of someone who had died of ALS. 
Simonini had a light bulb moment.
“This was a wake-up call that there was this whole other set of issues I couldn’t solve at the Statehouse,” he says. 
He decided to double-major in biology so he could learn more about ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders. A year later, he was offered a summer internship at the brain bank.
“I’m not going to find the cure for ALS overnight, but I couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t try,” he says.