Samantha Stanley has held an eclectic array of jobs. She has worked as an employment counselor for refugees, florist’s assistant, co-leader of a study abroad program in Ghana, coordinator at a Japanese cultural institute, and ceramics instructor. As dean of the Class of 2015, she works with students on a personal level, talking to them about their lives, future plans, and any challenges they may be facing. “I tell students to try a lot of things,” she says. “Try something new and experiment and see where that might take you.”
What will next year’s Commencement be like as you watch your class graduate? I cry every year at Commencement, so I think it’s going to be tearful, both in a happy and sad way. I’m also a little nervous because the class dean reads some of the student names. And so I’m going to be practicing a lot.
You’re getting married next year. Congrats. What are your plans for the big day? I want to hire a bluegrass band. Have you ever been to a bluegrass show where you couldn’t help but get up and dance around? And I want to do an ice cream sundae bar, and everybody is going to get a ceramic tumbler that I’ll make. That’s going to be used to put their ice cream in.
Talk of working with the refugees known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. I was an employment counselor. It was rewarding but emotionally draining. If I wasn’t able to find an individual a job, I would take that home with me at night and just feel horrible. I often drove folks to interviews off-hours because I was feeling for them. They’ve had very hard lives.
You also worked in a florist shop, right? I plucked petals off roses for about a month and a half. My fingers were all torn up from the thorns, and I’m allergic to flowers, so it was an ill-placed career pursuit.
What do you value in the people you meet? Humor, sincerity, honesty, and the ability to find beauty in the everyday. So much of our lives are spent doing everyday tasks, and if you can find the beauty and the enjoyment in them, then you can be happy all day long.—John Crawford