Photo: Pat Piasecki
Small Talk with Samantha Stanley
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