A Presidential Honors Scholar in both the AA1 and Honors programs and a tennis player who competed at Nationals, Colleen Samsel enjoys a good challenge and pushing herself beyond her limits.
Truth be told, SUNY Broome wasn’t her first choice and she applied for the college “as a joke,” she admitted. Then she received the Presidential Honors Scholarship – which covers full tuition for two years – and her perspective changed.
Her goals have also changed, from a future as an attorney to that of an English teacher. While she still plans on transferring to her dream school – the University of Central Florida – once her year as a Hornet is up, SUNY Broome turned out to offer more than she initially expected.
“I’m saving a lot of money, and I’m thinking a lot about the future. It’s smart for me to go here,” she said.
Learning to be an educator
By time she graduated from Chenango Forks High School, Colleen already had amassed college credits through Fast Forward, a concurrent enrollment program with SUNY Broome. She was familiar with the college from other avenues, too; she attended hockey games at the Ice Center and her brother, a year older than her, is a current student. In fact, they will be graduating together in May, since the One Year Associate in Arts degree (AA1) wraps up in only a year.
Both the AA1 and Honors programs require a capstone project – which will look great on her resume, Colleen pointed out.
“I like the Honors classes. They’re really challenging and more discussion-based. I would definitely recommend it,” she said.
One of her most challenging courses to date was EDU 111: Foundations of American Education, which requires 30 hours of classroom observation and 10 hours of community service. “It’s really rigorous. When you’re done, you have three-inch binder of what you worked on,” she said. “The teacher is really great; she really made me realize the importance of creating a good classroom community.”
Colleen observed classrooms in Chenango Forks, Chenango Valley and Maine-Endwell, taking copious notes. She was fascinated by the view from the other side of the desk, and came to appreciate her teachers more. “Once I started observations, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” she said.
For her service project, she worked with youth ages 14 and under at a therapeutic after-school program with The Children’s Home. She helped out in the education room, where they tackled their homework, and saw their literacy skills flourish after reading to therapy dogs on Thursdays. While she engaged in volunteer work during high school to build her resume, this project has changed her perspective and she now wants to lend a hand to help others, she said.
Her favorite professors include Mary Seel in English, Jesse Katen in Honors and Matt Papkov for public speaking. That last class helped expand her horizons further: She participated in a speech contest and placed third. It’s a skill that will prove handy when she leads her own classroom someday.
Making it memorable
While Colleen will only take a year to finish her SUNY Broome degree, she is doing her best to make that time memorable. She’s exploring the college ambassador program, and enjoyed playing tennis on SUNY Broome’s championship-winning team. In fact, it’s a family tradition of sorts; her father had played tennis at both SUNY Broome and SUNY Oswego.
SUNY Broome placed third at the 2019 NJCAA DIII Women’s Tennis Championships held in Peachtree City, Georgia. Colleen won her singles and doubles matches during the first day of play. Of course, the friendships she made are just as important as the victories on the court.
“My teammates are close to my heart,” she said.
Her Spring 2020 semester will cross national boundaries with the London and Literature course – combining her favorite subject with the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time in her life.
After graduation, she plans to head to her initial dream school in Florida – a stone’s throw from Disney, and a state where she wants to forge her future as an educator. Long-term, she hopes to work with eighth, ninth or 10th graders – inspiring them in the way she has been inspired by dedicated educators.
“I want to teach something that’s meaningful and that they will remember,” she said.