Sam Bader ’18

Sam Bader

I think of my experience at Lawrence as a culmination of relationships and connections that I never could have imagined having before receiving my admission letter in 2014. As a young Native Hawaiian kid interested in culture and music from the Big Island of Hawai’i, choosing to attend a college at a place like Lawrence seemed to confuse a lot of people who asked about my post-high school goals, because of how unorthodox it was for those I grew up with. But for me, attending a school with a robust liberal arts and music program made perfect sense when thinking about my interests, and choosing to live in a different part of the world made it all the more enticing. I remember the feeling of disembarking the plane in Appleton for the first time with my Dad right before moving into Kohler Hall, never having visited campus before, let alone the Midwest. I remember realizing that I had more in common with the interesting and quirky people from around the world that I met during my freshman year at Lawrence than I anticipated. I remember eating in the café right before midnight and studying in Warch Campus Center even later, performing music with my classmates in Memorial Chapel and Downtown Appleton, laughing when times were great and crying when times were difficult with my support systems in the Diversity and Intercultural Center, and leading events with Lawrence’s Native American and indigenous student organization promoting our cultures around Wisconsin and beyond. Most of all, I remember being able to relate to people, help people, and learn with people who changed me for the better.

Lawrence has shaped me in ways that are hard to explain but am ever so grateful for. My interest in culture and music evolved into a passion for learning from and helping young people from diverse backgrounds achieve the goals they set for themselves. In the process, I learned how to think, grow, and find ways to contribute meaning to this world by giving back to these communities that helped me achieve my own goals. The mentorship and leadership roles I assumed as a student at Lawrence were only possible because of the role models and mentors I looked up to when I first got there. The advocacy efforts that I became passionate about for indigenous and other marginalized students at Lawrence have become my professional and career goals as an education professional today. From starting my first full-time job working in the admissions office at Lawrence a month after graduating to becoming a teacher and coach of the college admissions process to indigenous students at Navajo Preparatory School, the International Baccalaureate High School of the Navajo Nation, the career path in education I’ve been on was set up by the experiences I had at Lawrence, helping me realize that this is the work that I love to do and am meant to do. No matter where life takes me, I’ll take the lessons I learned at Lawrence with me and strengthen our communities for generations to come.