Sammy is a standout senior at PCDS and is very active in the school’s theater. Additionally, she’s been involved on campus in student government, Speech & Debate, and so much more. Sammy has given much of her time to Chances 4 Children, providing aid to children in Haiti. She’s a fantastic student and will be attending NYU this fall.
Q. Can you tell us about Chances 4 Children (C4C)? How did that opportunity come about?
A. Chances 4 Children (C4C) is an organization based out of Kenscoff, Haiti, and Scottsdale. In 2006, it started as a single adoption center and has expanded to include a medical center, 13 feeding programs, and various empowerment programs. C4C’s goal is to provide hope to the children of Haiti, 400,000 of whom are living out of parental supervision. Additionally, their programs are geared to assist communities in their transition from survival to sustainability. Around the time C4C was founded, Kathi and Craig Juntunen, the organization’s founders, enrolled their daughter at El Dorado Private School in Scottsdale in the same grade as my little sister. Our families have been friends ever since. In 2014, my family traveled to Haiti to see, first-hand, the amazing work that the Juntunens were accomplishing. On that trip, Kathi asked if I wanted to intern with her over the summer. It was a resounding yes.
Q. What has been your favorite performance role or production at PCDS?
A. My favorite PCDS production has been my most recent! Last weekend, I performed in Godspell as a member of the 15 person core cast. This role required me to be on stage for the full length of the production and to sing 10 of the 15 songs. This show, inspired by the book of Matthew, is similar to storytelling theatre and is practically plotless for the whole of the first act; I played various characters within the parables and at one point was the top layer of a human pyramid. Though the plot is facilitated through biblical stories, Godspell is less about religious teaching and more about the community that Jesus created. Its quirky retelling made for the most fun I have ever had in a theatrical production.
Q. Can you tell us about your time in Haiti?
A. Since the initial trip with my family, I have traveled to Haiti three separate times. My first trip alone was during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. For three weeks, I spent my mornings assisting the newly-hired Preschool teacher at C4C’s adoption center, and I spent my afternoons enjoying the company of the center’s children, some of whom are my same age and became my closest friends. The next summer, I spent three weeks teaching English to a group of girls from an Orphanage affiliated with C4C for an hour a day. Ranging in ages from 2 – 12, these young women are the most inspiring humans I have ever met. They’re pure want to learn more and to understand more is beyond commendable! Lastly, this past summer, I led my own group to Haiti for two weeks. During this trip, we organized a play for the children in the Adoption center and constructed a jewelry display case for a female empowerment program. Overall, my time in Haiti has been an extremely humbling experience, and one that I will cherish forever. Indeed, I would credit a huge amount of my decision to study international studies to these trips. I have learned both about the significant impact one can make on young children and the different ways in which one person can make these impacts.
Q. Do you think your solid speech and debate foundation will carry over into your future?
A. I definitely think that skills that I have built up over my four years on the speech and debate team will carry over into my future. Besides increasing my confidence when speaking in front of large groups of people, this activity has taught me about the power of persuasion in both performance and debate and the power of communication in day-to-day conversation.
Q. What was behind your decision to attend NYU?
A. I decided to attend NYU because of its Global Liberal Studies program. The College of Liberal Studies functions as a small liberal arts college within NYU’s larger Arts and Sciences College. By taking a humanistic and global approach to liberal studies, this program was created to equip its students with the tools needed to succeed in a changing world. This program is a combination of all the subjects that I wanted to study in college: literature, arts, politics, philosophy, and history. The program’s seminar-style classes are complemented by trips to museums, theaters, and landmarks and a junior year abroad, something I knew I wanted to do in college. Overall, I feel as though my decision to attend NYU reflects the saying “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” To me, the Global Liberal Studies Program is the perfect setup for four years of following my passions.
Q. How has PCDS prepared you for the future?
A. PCDS has prepared me for the future by offering diverse courses, extracurriculars, and clubs that let me explore what I am interested in. Additionally, all of my teachers have set me on a path to succeed. The assignments I have been assigned, notably some lengthy 20-plus-page papers, have led me to believe that I can complete almost anything with some planning and perseverance. Lastly, the PCDS community has led me to find my voice: how I fit in among a dynamic group of people.
Sammy Dady is a Senior at Phoenix Country Day School.