Graduation year: 2017
Major: Multimedia journalism and mass communication
Minor: Creative writing
Activities: Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, WAUG Radio, Campus Ministries Leadership Team, Augustana Choir, Chamber Singers, Ascension Ringers Handbell Ensemble, Opera@Augustana, Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board
Internship: News reporter at WVIK 90.3 FM, Quad Cities NPR
Post-grad plans: Pursue graduate studies in public policy at The University of Chicago or in public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois, Springfield
Augustana was incredibly quick to welcome me into its intelligent and diverse community. Every person, from peer to teacher to administrator, was genuinely interested in me, my aspirations and my growth as a person. I simply didn’t find this community anywhere else, and it has been my saving grace throughout my four years on these rocky shores by the Mississippi.
Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?
I cannot say that I am, but for GOOD reasons. I imagined myself pursuing English in some abstract fashion, but that all changed once I began studying the wonderful discipline of journalism, and found my voice on WAUG. I discovered that I could use my talents of language and creativity to better the world through informing, and that managing a radio station was about the most fun a gearhead like me could have! Yes, it’s not what I imagined, but the outcome has been far better than I could ever have hoped for.
Who helped you get to where you are now?
My academic advisor, Sarah McDowell, was instrumental in getting me on the right track at Augie. Her invaluable experience and knowledge helped me discover myself and my potential (and she always added just the right amount of her characteristic wit into every meeting). Drs. Ann Boaden and Carolyn Yaschur were guiding lights in good times and in bad, and never were afraid to steer me back on course. I would definitely not have been successful without them!
A peak experience?
EAST ASIA TERM WAS INCREDIBLE! It still takes my breath away to this very day that I had the opportunity to study about and immerse myself in Asian culture for two and a half months! When I entered college, I never thought I would travel outside of the U.S., let alone to places like Japan and China. But now I leave Augie with bags full of international knowledge, cultural insights and memories to cherish when I’m old and grey. Thanks so much to everyone who made this wonderful program accessible for students like me.
What surprised you?
I learned that I have so much to be thankful for, more than I ever thought possible, and that I’m more than just a student. I’m a citizen, a friend, a caretaker and a steward to my fellow person. I am more than just one guy. I am part of a greater community, one to which I owe a great deal of gratitude and sacrifice. In short, I learned that you can only be so good on your own; it takes a village of people to make you great.
How did you use your Augie Choice?
East Asia term! Without it, I wouldn’t have likely been able to afford it. I kept the knowledge of that $2,000 grant in my back pocket until the right opportunity presented itself, and what an amazing difference it made. I am eternally grateful to have been given that gift as a student.
What will you miss the most?
There are far too many things to list here, but I will miss this loving and welcoming community most of all. Nearly every person who I've encountered while attending Augie has had a profound impact on my life, and has shown me immeasurable kindness. I only hope I’ll be able to find such a tight-knit family in adulthood. But no matter what happens, at least I’ll always have Augustana close to my heart.
Advice for the Class of 2021?
GET OUT. I mean, get out of your comfort zone. Get out of the mindset where you think you know it all or have seen it all just because you graduated high school. You’ve only just scratched the surface. Both college life at Augustana and the world at large are wonderful places, filled with unimaginable opportunity and goodness. But you’ll only be able to see it if you’re brave enough to take the first step of discomfort on the road to adventure.
“I first met Sam when he was a prospective student, touring campus with his mother. His maturity, thoughtfulness and energetic intelligence impressed me at that first interview, and his Augustana experience has honed those qualities. The variety of campus activities he’s undertaken—from music performances to creative and journalistic writing; from campus ministries to WVIK internships—demonstrates a reach for excellence that is both intellectual and spiritual. Sam genuinely embodies the liberal arts ideal.”