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Samantha Turner
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Samantha (Sami) Turner

Graduation year: 2015

Majors: History, anthropology

Minor: Art history

Activities: Alpha Psi Omega, Jenny Lind Women’s Choir, Augustana Teaching Museum of Art, Phi Alpha Theta, Augustana College Theatre

Internships: Interdepartmental intern at the Putnam Museum; museum studies intern at the German American Heritage Center; Center for Whistler Criticism research intern

Post-grad plans: I will pursue a master's in museum studies at Western Illinois University.

Why did you choose Augustana?

My choir director in high school was an Augie grad, so we heard a lot about Augie. I checked it out on his recommendation. I ended up really loving the small campus, and after getting my financial aid letter, it wasn’t even a question.

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

I came to Augie knowing I wanted to major in history, but that was it. I had an interest in museums, but had no idea that that interest would turn out to be what I actually did with my life, or that it would lead me to two other fields of study! I think if you’d told freshman me everything I’d be doing as a senior, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

Pretty much everyone! I’ve had so much help and support from my parents, who are always supportive of what I want to do, even if they don’t quite get why I want to do it. My mom has been there whenever I was feeling homesick and wanted a family recipe to feel better. My dad puts up with all my ridiculous phone calls when I don’t know how simple adult things work. But most of all my step-mom, Nicole. Our relationship has really changed since I came to Augie, and she’s always the one I call when I need advice on nearly anything, be it personal, academic or professional. The friends I’ve made here at Augie, my best friends from back home, my friends’ parents, and so many people at Augie have helped me immeasurably.

A peak experience?

It’s so hard to choose just one! I think my peak experience has been my work with the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art. I was initially hired to do data entry over the summer, but when Bergendoff flooded (and art storage with it), my entire experience changed. We had so many things to deal with after that flood that the other students and I had to be prepared for anything the museum needed.

Even though it was an awful situation, I learned so much. I learned how to handle artwork and how to respond to an emergency museum situation. I also got to see and handle nearly our entire art collection. I ended up continuing to work as a museum assistant for the rest of my time at Augie, and I even declared an art history minor winter term this year! I think my time with the art museum taught me a lot about myself and what I want to do. I really found myself there.

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?

I learned that I’m better than I think I am, and that if I can just go into a situation confident in myself and my work, I can achieve what I never thought possible. I learned this from my work with the art museum and the theatre; from my Senior Inquiry projects with Dr. Kaul, Dr. Hough and Dr. Cleveland; and from my time as experimental media co-chair, service chair and pledge master with Alpha Psi Omega.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to support myself while I interned at the German American Heritage Center last summer.

What will you miss the most?

I’m just going to miss Augie. I’m going to miss hearing the bells, the peacefulness of the Quad, my friends, being in Alpha Psi, and sitting in Potter to kill time between classes. I think I’m mostly going to miss my Augie home. Because that’s what it is to me. Augie has become my home. It’s this amazing place where I finally figured out who I am. I’m super excited to go on to grad school, but I feel like I’m going to leave a part of me behind on graduation day.

Advice for the Class of 2019?

Enjoy every Augie experience that you can. Pull that all-nighter. Rush even if you know you won’t pledge. Go to every event you can. Try out every group that sounds vaguely interesting. Have uncomfortable conversations. Volunteer. Take that class that sounds cool but none of your friends are taking. Make sure to get the full Augie experience.

“Sami understands the power that history plays in shaping our national narratives and, consequently, international relations. She has created opportunities for herself to be a storyteller herself through her work in public history. Most notably, she interned at the German American Heritage Center last year and was a key contributor to one of their very popular exhibits, commemorating the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. Sami not only has been able to link her majors through her focus on public history, but appreciates the critical role that historians play in engaging our communities in discussions about national identity.”


— Dr. Jane Simonsen, associate professor, history and women’s and gender studies