Sammi Z. was the first PIPs for School (P4S) Scholar at RIVER FUND to take enough PIPs-worthy actions to unlock the full $1,000 grant that a student can receive in a year — this despite starting late. “I was really behind compared to everyone else,” she explained. “But I realized how dedication and devotion can help me catch up and accomplish a task [that seemed large at first].” Sammi prepared herself mentally, telling herself, “I can and will complete [the PIPs tasks] to the best of my ability.”

Sammi is 18 years old, in her first year at CUNY Hunter College, and currently planning to major in accounting and business. Her family is from mainland China, but she was born in Brooklyn and now lives in Queens with her mom, dad, sister, and grandmother.

Getting a college degree is Sammi’s number one goal in the short term. “In today’s society,” she explained, “college degrees have become the key to opening up the door to more opportunities.” While taking 6 classes per semester, Sammi also volunteers at the RIVER FUND Food Distribution Program; she hasn’t missed a distribution day since she started at 14! She is also working a part-time job to help with her family’s expenses.

In the long term, she goes on, “Besides the usual of having a good job, [a] happy family, I want to leave an impact on society and change things that I perceive to be an issue. I really want my voice to be heard, my actions that I contribute to be seen, and my existence to be meaningful.” If that doesn’t happen, she quips, “There’s always my other goal of traveling the world and eating good food.”

For Sammi, one of the biggest takeaways of the P4S Scholars program is that little actions can add up and have great impact. Walking, she explained, is a great example. “You might think that walking 10 miles a week does not seem like a big deal, but for our environment, it really is. If everyone walks 10 miles each week instead of taking carbon emitting transportation,” an incredible amount of CO2 emissions is avoided.

Sammi is not just right about walking’s environmental benefit, it’s also her appreciation of the cumulative value of our everyday choices that is at the heart of the P4S Scholars experience.

The P4S Scholars program also “opened me up to the value of helping others and how I can find my own value when I’m assisting others,” Sammi added. “Tutoring one kid at a time might seem inefficient or insignificant, but when you see them excel in a class or [pass] a big test because of your effort, it does make one realize that the difference that someone like me can make doesn’t have to be global, but perhaps you can just change the life of an individual who needed help at the moment. It’s small, but it’s still something.”

Sammi likes that with the P4S Scholars program, when you do something good, it’s acknowledged. “You continue to shine as you already are, and the program will see you glowing and help you grow brighter if they can.”

Profile prepared by Wendy Gordon
President, PIPs Education Fund
March 23, 2022

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