Sam: Focusing on Making the World a Better Place


D.R.E.A.M.S. for Youth Scholarship Recipientsam

During his time as a student at Baldwin High School, Sam developed a passion for law and government. He found himself enamored by political science and economics, and with the help of United Way of Long Island’s D.R.E.A.M.S. for Youth Scholarship Program, he was able to pursue those interests at University at Albany, SUNY.

Growing up in Baldwin wasn’t always easy for Sam or his parents, who immigrated to America from El Salvador following the Salvadoran Civil War. They began a new life from scratch, and as Sam grew older, he saw the values of hard work and dedication reflected in his parents. By the time he graduated from Baldwin High School, Sam’s mother was a preschool teacher and his father worked in fashion logistics.

To say Sam made the most of his college experience would be an understatement. He was inducted into the Albany Political Science Honors Program and National Political Science Honors Society while ascending to leadership positions in student organizations across campus. Sam became the Chair of the Student Association’s Board of Finance, where he helped create and oversee the largest per capita Board of Finance in the SUNY system.

In addition to his work with the Board of Finance, Sam became the Mock Trial Chair of Phi Alpha Delta and was elected President of the school’s Model Congress Club. Sam also earned a position as a Session Assistant in the New York State Senate during the 2020 legislative session, which allowed him to see the innerworkings of state government firsthand. He used the opportunity to gather support from local leaders to request state funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Project, an initiative that aids veterans suffering from PTSD.

The D.R.E.A.M.S. for Youth Scholarship helped Sam maximize his college experience without worrying about making ends meet, while United Way of Long Island’s assistance also helped shape Sam’s perspective and purpose.

“I feel like the biggest thing the D.R.E.A.M.S. Scholarship did for me, aside from allowing me to attend school, was definitely networking,” Sam said. “I developed a good relationship with the organization’s staff and found out how United Way impacts lots of youth. I feel like that was important to me because it altered my mindset to focus more on how I can help other people to make our world a better place.”

Sam graduated from SUNY Albany magna cum laude in 2021, one year earlier than anticipated. He is currently a Legislative Aide in the office of New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, and he hopes to attend law school and graduate school in pursuit of his J.D. and Ph.D. Sam is working towards becoming a lawyer and associate professor, building on the same dreams he first realized in high school. With the help of the D.R.E.A.M.S. for Youth Scholarship, United Way of Long Island is excited to see Sam make a positive impact in law and government.