Patricia Simon ’90, ’94

Patricia Simon ’90, ’94 has taken her career in an unexpected direction. In addition to being a full-time nurse in Chicago, she’s also become a published author. Her first children’s book is
titled “Smile with Simon,” about a cardinal named Simon who’s born with a gap in his beak which made it difficult for him to eat, smile and sing. In the story, he meets a young girl named Patty, who relates with Simon because she has a cleft lip.

Simon’s children’s story is based on her own real-life experience. Born with a cleft lip and palate, she spent a lot of her early years in doctor’s offices. Eventually, she decided to pursue health care and experienced the other side of the situation after becoming a nurse. Through both the patient and caregiver experiences, Simon was able to write a sweet story that truly resonates with young people with facial and oral malformations.

It was only a few years ago when Simon first felt inspired to write her story. Because of complications she was experiencing, she found herself in a medical waiting room and saw several young children with cleft lips waiting to see their physicians. Somehow, Simon got to wondering if any books existed that could help them through their ordeal. She went home and did some digging to find that there were only a few children’s books on the subject, but they had been published a long time ago.

The story of the bird and the girl quickly came to life. Simon’s aim was to help children with a cleft lip and/or palate to understand that it’s okay to be different. She wanted them to remind them that they are beautiful. Simon eventually wrote a second book, “Simon and the Buddy Branch,” which further stresses the importance of kindness, love and acceptance in the lives of children with cleft lips.

Simon isn’t shy about spreading her message to grown-ups, too.

She was recently invited to speak at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, affiliated with Columbia University Medical Center in New York, for its inaugural cleft lip and palate team day. She’s also member of American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, Children’s Craniofacial Association, Cleft Community Advisory Council for Smile Train, and she’s a former board member of Face the Future Foundation, which supports the efforts of University of Illinois Health Craniofacial Center.

Simon’s books can be purchased on A portion of each book purchase will be donated to Simon’s favorite organizations for people with facial differences.