Third in a Series Profiling Graduates of the Class of 2012

May 31, 2012
Major: Africana studies and political science
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Samantha Crowell is a recent graduate who used her time at Wellesley to pursue independent research and greater understanding of the politics of various countries on the African continent. Samantha was also a member of Punch's Alley and the president of á la mode (Wellesley's fashion club), and participated in Wellesley in Washington and Women in Public Service.
Samantha spent most of her time at Wellesley doing research. While on a semester abroad, she began field research that contributed to her senior thesis as well as an independent study. Samantha's in-depth research took on race politics, youth movements, and the viability of an "African Spring," with a focus on the phenomenon of Julius Malema, a political entrepreneur in South Africa. She qualified for honors in her major, Africana Studies, and won the Zora Neale Hurston Award.

Samantha plans to continue her work both in the field and in graduate studies.

Q&A with Samantha

What will you miss most about being a student at Wellesley?
Wellesley is where I really grew as a person, and I want to thank the friends I made for helping me to become who I am today. I will miss having those friends nearby—being able to visit their dorm rooms whenever I want to share a joke, a meal, a movie. I hope that my future plans will include close connections with these friends, but I know it will never be the same as my time with them at Wellesley.

Where's your favorite place on campus?
My favorite place is definitely the pub, Punch's Alley. I've worked there for two years, and I've made some great friendships with people I probably wouldn't have met otherwise. I have also expanded my knowledge of beers and wines considerably, which I am proud of. 

How have you changed since you first came to Wellesley?
I am so different! Now, I try to see situations from others' points of view instead of my own. I want to learn as much as I can about other cultures, other places. Before Wellesley I did not know what was out there for me and other women like me; now I feel daunted by all of the things I can see and do, all of the things I can achieve. Wellesley has been significant to me in that it has shown me new pathways I would have never considered, new experiences and new people I wouldn't have encountered had I stayed at home in Indiana. 

What are your plans after graduation?
Next year, I will be performing inequality research in Cambridge for a government contractor. In five years, I hope to be working very hard on a Ph.D in political science, and working on a dissertation concentrating on African politics. 

Is there a particular person or group who's made a difference during your time here?
My Professor, Donna Patterson, has gone above and beyond in her role as a major adviser. She has really become a life adviser—getting me through hard times at Wellesley, inspiring me to take my dream job, to pursue higher education, and to stop and appreciate my life here at Wellesley. She is truly the model for a Wellesley professor in her accessibility, her ability to tell me the truth, and to push me in the right direction with my life. 

Any other reflections you'd like to share?
Many people had reservations that I would be attending a women's college, but honestly, after four years I would recommend the experience. Yes, I have had hard days where I've wanted to leave, and yes, it takes a special person to attend this college. But, that person is driven, motivated, and very, very smart. I want to be around those types of people, and I want to be one of them. I will never regret my time spent at Wellesley, and I am already counting down the days until I can return.