Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Auggie at a Glance - Sam Smith

I'm now a Contributor to the Echo, Augsburg's newspaper, writing the "Auggie at a Glance" piece. Great, huh?
For those unaware, "Auggie at a Glance" is a way for the Augsburg community to stay in touch with the cool things Auggies are doing. Last week, I wrote about Sam Smith, our current Day Student Body President. I figured it'd be nice to post my pieces online, after they've been published, so enjoy!

Average college students waste away their time at school, remaining out of public view and disregarding opportunities for leadership. Sam Smith, however, is not an average college student.

Currently a junior International Relations major, Sam is Augsburg’s Day Student Body President, making him responsible for approximately 2,000 of his peers. He acts as their liaison to Augsburg’s administration, including President Paul C. Pribbenow and the Board of Regents. Sam’s schedule consists of a full course load, and six to seven meetings per week (including Student Government’s (StuGov) approx. three-hour weekly meeting). A weighty task for any student, but Sam is no stranger to politics.

Homecoming Prince at Stillwater High School, Sam grew up in a family entrenched in the public sphere. His mother is a teacher at Bruce F. Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, and his father boasts an impressive resume, having served as the State Commissioner of Revenue under Jesse Ventura, and the Director of Finance for St. Paul under Mayor Chris Coleman. Sam’s older brother is a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine.

And now Sam is paving his own way through politics. As a first-year, Sam jumped at an open Senatorial position in the Day Student Government, and helped bring A'viands to Augsburg. Most students would call that sufficient enough as a collegiate accomplishment, but Sam didn’t stop there. He was later named an Orientation Leader and a Summer Community Advisor for Mortensen Hall. In his “spare time,” Sam functioned as Editor of The Echo’s Sports section. After all that hard work, you’d expect someone like Sam to take a break--but he didn’t stop. Last summer, Augsburg’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity awarded Sam $2,000 to study online communities, and what it means to be a social person in the age of anonymity, disembodiment, and technology. As Sam put it, “I got paid to play computer games.”

But Sam’s ambitions didn’t stop there: last year, after a hotly contested election against his “best friend…and inspiration” Juventino Meza, Sam was elected the 2009-2010 Day Student Body President. According to Sam, “Everything I’ve done at Augsburg has prepared me to be the Student Body President—my work with StuGov…with ResLife…with Orientation. It’s all showed me ways I can be effective.” Sam also said he likes to think of the position as one of stewardship, rather than one of politics.

And yet, Sam has no delusions about his responsibilities: “Ben [Ben Krouse-Gagne, Sam’s running mate and the current Day Student Body Vice President] and I won only by about 40 votes [out of 500 votes cast]. We have people we’re going to be accountable to this year.” Sam’s goals for his time as Student Body President include a sustainability plan modeled after Macalester’s, and changing the apathy among Augsburg’s students. Pressed, Sam explained: “There is a select group of students who make the decisions for the…larger community. I’d like to see more students get involved…care more…about how their student activity fee is used, how their tuition is used…and to hold StuGov accountable.”

But Sam won’t be Student Body President forever. He has two years left, including this one, and he intends to make good use of them. This January, he’ll be joining a faculty-led study abroad trip to Nicaragua, where he’ll study globalization and women’s movements; next fall, he intends to study in Africa for a semester. Though still a long way off, Sam predicts he’ll work in an embassy, following in the footsteps of his grandmother, who is currently finishing assignments at an embassy in Montreal.

One thing’s for certain: Sam Smith has already demonstrated himself to be a true public servant. He invites you to join him every Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M. in OGC 100 for StuGov meetings, which are open to the entire Augsburg community.

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