Fall 2017 Scholarship Winner – Samantha Jones

Nathan Arora
Nathan Arora

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a college student studying English language and literature, which means I drink way too much coffee, I’m in a committed relationship with Microsoft Word and if you get me talking about literature, I can go on for hours. I’m also a sister, biologically I have a younger sister, on my campus I have a little over a hundred sorority sisters; I love both and both drive me crazy sometimes (it must be a sister thing). I am passionate about education outside of the classroom and I am an aspiring curator.

What has been your best experience in school?

I admit, when I began studying English at a Polytechnic school, I wasn’t expecting an amazing program, since the humanities are often a lower level concern on many similar campuses. I could not have been more wrong though. The small major has afforded me the opportunity to be on a fist name basis with many of my professors, who in addition to being amazing mentors, have been some of the most brilliant people I have had the pleasure of knowing. My classes have been incredible and the further I get into the major, the stronger my sense of sureness in my own expertise becomes. I have no doubt I will come out of this major a stronger writer, a more analytical reader and a confident participant in the literary conversations already going on.

What influenced your choice in major?

I am a third year English major, with a minor in interdisciplinary studies and plans to pursue museum studies if grad school. I am a voracious reader, a passionate writer, and I have been in love with the notion of storytelling for as long as I can remember. Initially I began my English career at Cal Poly with plans to pursue creative writing. Since then I have become entranced with my literature classes and picked up a minor, which has turned my attention toward the way museum education utilizes storytelling.

How do you envision yourself in 5 years?

In five years, ideally I will be finished with my graduate studies and working at a museum that includes some kind of historical/cultural studies component. I would like to be working in Exhibit design and curation. I believe museum culture has the potential to contribute powerful change and to promote greater cultural tolerance in society and I want to be part of that movement. I believe storytelling increases empathy and so I want to explore the narratively of museum exhibits.

What do you hope to learn from your school experience?

I am fortunate in that I have always loved school and learning. My education has not only been extremely important to me, it has been something I actively enjoy and seek out. From college, I am hoping for more than just a degree earned by specific units, more than just the collaborative skills necessary for interacting with others in everyday life. I want to graduate having gained understanding about who I am as a person, what I value and believe. College has been, for me, the opportunity to establish myself as an individual and what I hope for is that when I am through with school, I will have a greater love and appreciation for myself and the work I am capable of, as well as a great curiosity and a continuing desire to learn.

What extracurricular activities do you enjoy?

Philanthropy and sisterhood have always been extremely important to me. I high school I was involved in a youth sorority sponsored by the Freemasons and served as an officer on the State level. Now that I am in college, I have become very involved in my sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, and I am currently serving on our Executive Council as Property Coordinator. I am also a new initiate in the Order of Omega, the Greek Honor society on my campus. In addition to my job as a tutor at the writing center on Campus, I volunteer as a docent at the local aquarium.

Samantha’s Essay

Through the Wardrobe

by Samantha Jones

As an English major, I have been exposed to an incredible assortment of literature. I have read pieces that have shaken me to the core, transformed the way I think, taught me empathy, and I am so grateful for these things. But for everything I have learned from my classes, I have learned just as much, if not more, from the fairytales that made up my childhood. My favorite storybook when I was young was “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” by C.S. Lewis and it remains to this day one of my favorite stories.

The book was an escape into a world that was much more exciting and meaningful to me than that of my life. The book showed me that someone as seemingly insignificant as a child could be a hero, and have adventures and I could go on those adventures when I read the books. Every step a character took, I was walking right beside them.

The lessons I learned from my trips Narnia are innumerable and every time I read it, I gain new insights. I learned from Lucy to believe in magic, that you should be kind to strangers, and loyal to your friends. Edmund taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes, and be afraid. Then, he taught me to learn from my mistakes and grow. Peter showed me that leadership is not just telling people what to do or where to go, it is listening and understanding, so that you can be a guide to those around you. Susan reminded that while it is okay to be a little skeptical, I should never let that get in the way of what is important.

I learned many things but more than that, I realized that the intricate fabric of Narnia was woven with many of the same threads that make up real life. There is good and evil, there is temptation and there is redemption. When I first stepped through the wardrobe, I began to form a new understanding about how life works. As I get older, I am becoming more aware that while I cannot prevent the evil and the temptation in my life, I can make choices about how I respond to it. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is important to me because it has become part of the foundation on which I have built myself up. The heroes of this story have served to shape me as person and I hope that when I act and speak and think, I do so in a manner that would be worthy of a queen or king of Narnia.

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