This Georgia woman, KSU grad is smashing glass ceilings on Wall Street

Lauren Simmons turned out to have the perfect education, drive and personality for a job she never thought of, much less considered.

“I would rather look at life saying, ‘I tried, and I failed,’ than having that itch on ‘maybe, should I? kind of,’” Simmons said.

She is a 2016 graduate of Kennesaw State University who majored in genetics.

Her goal? To help people like her twin brother, who has cerebral palsy.

Simmons took her minor in statistics and moved to New York City.

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“I wanted the challenge. I wanted the risk,” Simmons said.

The risk paid off when Rosenblatt Securities hired her to trade on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, but before she could trade Simmons needed pass the Series 19 exam. 

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“Out of two people in a class only two would pass,” Simmons said. “Before I took the exam everyone would say it's OK if you don't pass. It's OK, but you need to pass because you need your badge to work on the floor and when I passed it was a lot of shocked faces.”

At 24 years old, Simmons is the youngest trader on the floor and moves $150 million each day, a number she is quick to point out is very junior. She is also the second-ever African-American woman to trade full-time on the stock exchange floor.

She told Clark Howard that her success was not immediate. 

“When I moved to New York -- I'm from the South. I'm African-American. I didn't go to an Ivy League (school) -- people would glass their eyes over; wouldn't even allow me to speak,” Simmons said.

She told Howard that grit and determination were key. That's something she wants anyone with a goal to understand.

“You are your biggest road block, period. If you believe you can't do it then you won't do it. If no one else is going to believe in your story, you need to believe in your story,” Simmons said.

She credits her mother and her brother for her determination and focus.

“My mom, she's fearless, she's bold. I get it from her. My brother, he's fearless, he's bold, and I want to make them proud and I want to live a large life.” Simmons said.

While she is not sure the world of finance is where she’ll stay, Simmons is excited about the future.

“I want to see more women on Wall Street. I want to see more women in senior executive roles and I hope my story can do that for people,” Simmons said. “I also want to impact an entire generation that is coming after me that is going to just be game-changers.”

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