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Samantha Irvin, '10

Shining Lights of Optimism


Since grade school, teachers have played a pivotal role in junior Samantha Irvin's life. They've guided the 21-year-old Harlem, N.Y. native in a positive direction. At UAlbany, adult role models continue to inspire a path of confidence and success for Irvin. It's no coincidence she wants to do the same for others.

"I've been so blessed with not only one, not two, but three mentors at UAlbany," said Irvin, an Africana studies and journalism double major. "I want to play the same role for inner city kids one day, to be that optimistic influence in their lives."

At the University, those influences include John Murphy, associate vice president for Student Success; Charles Rogers, associate director of Residential Life; and D. Ekow King, director of Multicultural Student Success. Irvin refers to them as "shining lights of optimism" in her life.

Each has guided Irvin academically, socially, and professionally through encouragement and constructive criticism. Most of all, they've given her the problem-solving tools to succeed in life.

"They've all shaped who I am now and who I've come to be at this University," said Irvin.

Irvin has thrived academically, garnering an overall GPA of 3.49 and two Seth W. Spellman Academic Achievement Awards. She has also immersed herself in campus life, including serving as management assistant for the Department of Residential Life, a member of the student judicial board and working in the Office of Student Involvement.

In fact, it was the diversity of its students and programs that attracted Irvin to the University. From Pan Caribbean pageants to breast cancer walks, Irvin enjoys UAlbany's breadth of activities. It's one of the reasons she decided to pursue her master's degree in education at UAlbany. She hopes to teach inner city students and have the same lasting connections with them as she's had with her educators.

"I know what these kids are going through, I've been there. I had a tough home life during my elementary school years and I was an angry kid. But it was the teachers in my life that helped me become grounded. They listened to me," said Irvin. "I hope to do the same thing, to make a difference and help children realize their potential."

UAlbany alumnus William Thomas, '97, Maryland's 2009 Teacher of the Year
UAlbany Alumni

For UAlbany alumnus William Thomas, being named Maryland's 2009 Teacher of the Year has its perks. But the biggest reward will be meeting President Barack Obama, when he's honored at the White House.

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