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After the Fire:   Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons

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Shawn's Story

Early Years


Shawn Simons was born and raised in the Newark, New Jersey. A product of his environment, Shawn learned to adapt to the means streets of his city and not allow the elements surrounding him to entrap him in a lifestyle so many of his neighbohood friends engulfed - violence, drugs and death. Raised in a single parent home by his mother Christine and older sister Nicole, Shawn was taught at an young age that there were certain things that had to happen if he wanted to remain under his mother's roof - get an education, keep the faith and treat others as he wanted to be treated. Those three virtues molded Shawn to be prepared to take on anything in life.


Never a shy child, Shawn was constantly involved in extracurricular activities. This was a way to be exposed to many different activities that weren't common to those from his neighborhoods and give him exposure to things his parents never obtained. Whether it was the chess club, programs at the Boys and Girls Club, karate or even the occasional "Best Dressed" young man's pageant during Easter, Shawn was always up to the challenge and gave it his all. A characteristic that would later be influential in a monumental part of his life. 


The Dream


Shawn's Newark neighborhood perimetered another town that was affluent and to his disdain, a place of prosperity, South Orange, NJ. Shawn would ride through the city and observe a campus where outside the black steel gates looked as if people were having a grandeur time playing flag football, studying on the green luscious grass and even catching a quick nap under the trees. He would later find out that this was Seton Hall University. He knew as a child this would be the place for him and the great thing was it was only 10 blocks from his Newark neighborhood.


He strived to get good grades at University High School in Newark and worked hard in a program through the Boys and Girls Club called the R.E.A.D.Y. Foundation that gave youth from Newark the additional help educationally and financially to go to college. Shawn was able to obtain a full academic scholarship to Seton Hall. Though tough at first, Shawn managed to buckle down and get fairly decent grades his first semester.  One week into his second semester is when the fire happened and his life would change.


Life "After the Fire"


Shawn is married to his beautiful wife, Chinaire Simons and also has two wonderful children, Tamir and Jaylen. Shawn resides in Roselle, New Jersey and is C.F.O. of his marketing and promotions company, Lo-Key Entertainment. Shawn is also committed to sharing his experience and knowledge with any and everyone who wants to hear his story. Sharing with others is a way of learning and growing and has been a great mental rehabilitation for Shawn as well. He hopes that people will find his story of friendship and survival as inspiration for their own lives.