Senior Spotlight: Olivia Samples

by Emily Carey, Staff Reporter

After spending only three years at Simpson College, senior Olivia Samples will graduate with plenty of public relations and communications experiences under her belt.

The summer before her senior year of high school, her parents moved to Iowa.

“I went to Valley for about three months and then moved back to North Carolina and lived with my family friends for the last part of my senior year,” Samples said.

Samples applied to colleges in Iowa to be closer to her parents. That’s when she found Simpson College.

“Cole Zimmerman was my admissions counselor and he had an ambassador FaceTime me and walk around and show me campus,” Samples said. “My first day on campus was my first day of class.”

Samples started off as a marketing major but later changed to a public relations major and women’s and gender studies minor.

“I realized I was going to have to take econ and other math classes so I switched to PR,” she laughed.

Despite the change, Samples flourished in the public relations department through her experiences with various internships.

Some of her past internships include Merge, Yoga for First Responders and iHeartRadio.

Samples is currently a communications intern with the American Civil Liberties Union. She’s also involved with the Networking Project, an advocacy group doing research commissioned by the attorney general as well as an undergraduate assistant for the alumni office.

“Internships have definitely helped push the direction that I want to go in life,” Samples said. “I love communications and being creative, but I also found that I love the advocacy part of it and social justice. I’ve also learned how to work on the fly and create ideas pretty quickly.”

Although Samples has kept herself busy with internships and other jobs, she also finds time to stay involved on campus.

She has participated with different organizations on campus, including Campus Activities Board as the marketing director her first year, writing and working as the advertising director for The Simpsonian her sophomore year, a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and an officer for PRSSA.

Careerwise, Samples believes PRSSA was the most beneficial for her.

“It’s helped me network and get to know a lot other professionals in the area. It’s how I’ve made a lot of contacts.” Samples said.

Being a part of many projects and all of the opportunities Simpson has to offer has been Sample’s favorite part about Simpson.

“I did my ‘Ask Me Anything’ panel, I’m doing focus groups about diversity at Simpson this semester, interviewing a lot of key people that I normally wouldn’t have access to at a big school, and being the ad director of The Simpsonian. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen at big schools, so you get those opportunities.” Samples said.

She also credits her professors for leading her in the right path.

“They’ve helped me and led me to a lot of great opportunities that I wouldn’t have known if they didn’t come to me.” she said.

After all of her experiences at Simpson, Sample’s advice to incoming and underclassmen students is to get involved as soon as you can: “Getting involved in lots of organizations, clubs and projects can help your resume for when you’re going to start looking for jobs. It also just helps you make friends and get to know people.”

Sample’s second piece of advice after getting involved is to make time to have fun and enjoy college.

“I’m one of those people that’s always busy and doing a lot of projects, which I like too, but I definitely didn’t hang out with my friends or do a lot of college experiences because I decided to work hard with other projects and stuff,” Samples said.

Samples is currently in the process of sorting through her options for post-college. Last week, she found out that she made it through the first round of Peace Corps interviews. She will know by March 1 if she will go to Fiji.

She is also considering going to law school or continuing to work with the Networking Project.

“It’s been a great ride, a great three years,” Samples said. “I’m excited for what’s next.”