During Samantha Friar’s first visit to Elgin Community College, she found herself in the wrong building but the right company. “My office was located in Building K. When I arrived, no one was there,” said Friar, EdD, director of TRiO student support services. “An amazing Adult Basic Education Center staff informed me that TRiO had another office in Building B, and they graciously walked me over to the office. At that moment, I knew ECC is a great place to be, as the students and staff consistently demonstrate this.”
Friar’s department assists more than 500 ECC students in completing their degrees through various programs and resources. Outside of ECC, she finds time for some of her favorite activities, such as card games and roller skating. Read on to learn about Friar’s trip to Sydney, Australia, and her former life teaching fourth graders at Chicago Public Schools.
What do you do at ECC/what do you want others to know/understand about your job? I serve as the Director of TRiO Student Support Services. TRiO Student Support Services and Student Support Services ESL collectively serve over 500 students. Our programs assist students with their degree completion through various academic support resources such as but not limited to career and academic planning, campus visitation, cultural and social activities, and leadership development.
If you could instantly be an expert at one thing, what would you choose? Education, as I am a lifelong learner, as I learn, I teach!
What do you like to do outside of work? What are some of your favorite hobbies, places to go, activities, etc.? I enjoy spending time with my family outside of work, as I have a huge close-knit family. Some of my favorite hobbies pre-COVID included: roller skating, stepping, and spades (card game), just to name a few. Additionally, one of my favorite places to go has always been DuSable Museum of African American History. Each time I visit, I expand my knowledge of my culture and history.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled, or where is somewhere you dream of going, and why? I visited Sydney, Australia, NSW (New South Wales). My Aunt & Uncle lived in NSW for a long time, and it is an absolutely beautiful country with amazing people. My dream vacation (which will come to past) is to travel to Greece. I have always been intrigued by the country's culture, food, and captivating views.
Share a fact about you that might surprise people to learn. I thoroughly enjoy research and reading and interpreting data charts. Studying trends and determining the causations has always been appealing to me.
What piece of advice would you share with your 20-year-old self or with our students? Continue to go onward and upward, and embrace the challenges along your journey, as you learn and grow from them.
What was your first-ever job? I think I will go with my first job at the start of my career on this one, which was a fourth grade teacher for Chicago Public Schools, which now I consider my gateway into the field of education. I learned so much while in this role. My most valuable lessons were commitment and patience. I was committed to teaching and learning inside the classroom and having the patience to teach more than 30 students simultaneously. While in this role, I had many successes as my students consistently had the highest scores in reading comprehension and mathematics within the school.
Favorite movie, book, tv show? Share one or a few of your favorites! One of my all-time favorite movies, I have two: Love Jones (a classic) Something about Mary (another classic, super funny to this day).