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Reagan Samuel named LSU's first "give a year" scholar

When asked about her greatest accomplishment, Baton Rouge native and LSU graduate student Reagan Samuel quickly answered, "City Year."

As the nation celebrates "Make a Difference" day, the most encompassing national day of helping others, on Saturday, Oct. 22, LSU is recognizing Samuel for the difference she has made, not only at LSU and in Baton Rouge, but also in her year spent in Boston with the City Year program.

LSU graduate student Reagan Samuel is the university's first "give a year" scholar through a partnership with City Year. Samuel spent one year in Boston working with the City Year program while an undergraduate student at LSU.
Photo: Rachel Saltzberg

After her sophomore year at LSU, Samuel wanted a change. She was enrolled as a secondary education major but, felt the need to make a real-world connection to issues that plague the public school system. She decided to take a year off from college and signed up to serve with City Year.

"When I told her (Samuel's mom) about City Year and explained that I would not be making much money while participating, she encouraged me to go and offered to assist me in any way," Samuel said in thanking her mother for supporting her decision. "It was incredibly rewarding to see high school students get excited about social justice and helping others."

For her service, Samuel was awarded LSU's inaugural "give a year" scholarship, a graduate-level scholarship for a corps member, alumnus or staff member affiliated with City Year. Earlier this year, LSU became the first public institution in the nation to reward young adults who commit a year of full-time service with City Year through the "give a year" Partnership.

"We congratulate Reagan as the first of many 'give a year' scholars," said LSU Chancellor Michael Martin. "We look forward to more opportunities to celebrate meaningful service, as a fundamental contribution to LSU's mission."

City Year, a member of AmeriCorps, unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities.

Samuel was placed in Boston, where she planned special events and secured donations for City Heroes, a service learning and leadership development program for high school students.

"This was a place where I could learn to make a difference by helping students reach their goals, teaching them to be leaders and civically engaged," said Samuel.

Pete November, City Year vice president of recruitment, admissions and alumni affairs, and LSU Chancellor Michael Martin officially signed LSU's "give a year" Partnership with City Year in March.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

Samuel returned to Baton Rouge and in May 2011, earned a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in history. She is now pursuing a Master of Arts in teaching at LSU. She is also considering a doctorate in education.

Samuel eventually plans to teach in an inner city, high-need school and expects to have more experiences like those in Boston.

"Sometimes you learn a lot more from students than they learn from you," she said.

City Year's "give a year" Partnerships are created with an institution of higher education as an incentive to its corps members to further their education. Scholarships must cover at least 25 percent of tuition costs. LSU's "give a year" scholarship, which is supported by the LSU Foundation, covers 75 percent of tuition costs, and 26 percent of not only tuition but also required fees for resident and non-resident students, respectively. Samuel will receive an award of $2,600 per semester for up ""to two years or four semesters. Additionally, her LSU application fee was waived.

Excitement was Samuel's initial reaction when she received the news that she was awarded the scholarship.

"I believe that anyone who does City Year is hardworking and passionate, so I'm grateful to be found deserving," she said.

Samuel added that the scholarship enables her to focus solely on her program, which she describes as "intense."

"I did not plan on working while completing this program, so I am appreciative of the financial assistance," said Samuel.

As part of LSU's partnership with City Year's "give a year" Program, the university will select one graduate student to receive the scholarship each year for the next three academic years. Recipients are selected by a committee of academic and student life professional staff members. Recipients must be enrolled full-time in a degree-granting, graduate-level program and maintain academic and disciplinary good standing with the university.

The partnership was coordinated and is maintained through the LSU Community University Partnership, with assistance from the Graduate School, Undergraduate Admissions and Student Aid, and Institutional Advancement. For more information on the LSU's "give a year" Partnership, please visit http://alumni.cityyear.org/?page=LSU. For more information on the LSU Community University Partnership, please email lsucup@lsu.edu or visit www.lsu.edu/cup.