If there is one thing that Merrimack Honors students are good at, it is leaving their mark on everything they involve themselves in, and this could not be clearer than with recent Honors Alumna Samantha Frey. Sam graduated from Merrimack in 2021 with a degree in Psychology, Social Justice, and Women’s and Gender Studies. During her time at Merrimack, Sam was the President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Vice President of Gender Equality at Merrimack, President of the Green Team, a member of the Unity House Council, Honors Student Council Wellness Officer, Honors Student Ambassador, as well as an FYE mentor. Her work at Merrimack was influential beyond just the Honors Program and her work in student activism has since inspired her journey after college.
Since graduating, Sam has traveled across the country to Los Angeles, California to join the St. Joseph Worker Program for a year of service, volunteering with the Downtown Women’s Center. She described her time with the Women’s Center as the “perfect combination” of all the things she studied – psychology, social justice, and women’s and gender studies – where she works as the Day Center Coordinator. The Women’s Center focuses on houseless women, or women who just recently found housing, providing two meals a day, as well as various activities, facilities, and resources to connect them to. Sam explained that her studies at Merrimack helped her to better understand how to interact with people in situations such as these without judgment, and instead with empathy.
Work like this can be difficult in a unique way, but Sam explains that the community she lives with has made her transition much easier. She lives in a community of eight other women who are also doing a year of service in LA, which she described as an “intentional community”. This sense of community is a pillar of the St. Joseph Worker program, meaning that the women she lives with are beyond just roommates. Instead they are a support system as they go through all these experiences together with activities such as “sharing of the heart”, which Sam described as a time for group reflection at the end of the week; as well as various “community nights” where all the women can come together for a night of activities. She also shared that she has been able to stay connected with Laura Byrd, another 2021 Merrimack alumna, who is also doing a year of service after graduation, by writing letters about their experiences to each other. While her schedule isn’t nearly as jam packed as it once was, Sam remains connected both with the Merrimack community and her newfound community in LA.
Sam has become an inspiration to many, myself included, as she pursues something that many would consider a non-traditional path after graduation. Yet she wants to tell the Class of ’22, or any student who is looking to pursue their dreams after college, to firstly be willing to do what you never thought you could or thought you would do. Sam explained that her freshman year she didn’t even know what a year of service meant, yet now she is doing “exactly what she wanted”. Finally, Sam stressed the importance of not letting society tell you what you’re supposed to be doing. “Don’t do it just because you’re supposed to”, she exclaimed, “you’ll be miserable!”