Campus Profile: Samanda Valente

“It’s not Samantha, it’s not Amanda, it’s Samanda.”

This is probably the first thing I heard out of Samanda’s mouth during Orientation Week, and the way she said it is a perfect representation of her personality: a little sassy, so very sweet, and definitely not taking any of your shit. Samanda Valente is certainly as unique as her name in all the best ways.

When you listen to Samanda speak you’ll notice an accent and the story behind it is more than amazing. So when you ask her “where are you from,” you’ll get a slight eye roll and then a well rehearsed explanation because that’s something that O-Week does to all of us. But you’ll have to hold onto your seats, because her story’s a stunner.

Samanda is from Puerto Rico and has lived there since she was 16.  She moved to Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic where she had lived for 5 years. But, Samanda was born and raised in Venezuela and you can see her Venezuelan pride in simply the way she carries herself. It is one of the bastions of what makes Samanda a Valente.

When asked how the move was from Puerto Rico to Pittsburgh, she insists that it wasn’t a dramatic experience however there was a small amount of culture shock. Moving from a Spanish-speaking community to a community where she has to speak English 24/7 definitely took some getting used to.

 

She tells me about moments in class when she has language lapses and starts speaking rapid fire Spanish to her professors or friends without even realizing it. But I can guarantee you that it’s probably one of the coolest things that she can do. There’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Personally, as a first generation Indian-American I can tell you that completely assimilating to an English-language culture is the worst thing you can do for your home culture. So it’s safe to say that those language “lapses” that Samanda has are actually small windows into a vibrant culture.

On campus, Samanda has already started making a grand impact. She is here as a Presidential Scholar and is studying Neuroscience with the intention of going to med school. On her trek to med school, Samanda successfully went through an extensive interviewing process to join the Global Medical Brigade, which serves as a hallmark for her passion for helping people. Samanda also takes part in Model UN and is on the cheerleading team. You can see her and her teammates cheering during football games with pink bows in their hair for Breast Cancer in October. Her happy spirit makes her a joy to watch at football games, so definitely check them out!

There are some things that make Samanda…Samanda. For instance, when she wants to emphasize how wonderful something or someone is she calls them “beautttiful” (emphasis on the “ti”).

You can also find her jamming out to music and singing along to all of her favorite songs so often that she insists that she “should have been a vocal performance major.”

 

Another Samanda thing is that it’s gotten to the point where the workers at Spinning Salads recognize her because she can’t live without her daily salad order: a mixture of romaine lettuce and spinach, bacon, quinoa, lentils, mushrooms, crispy chicken, and balsamic vinegar. But she manages to balance everything out to trips to the CMU Café for their vanilla milkshakes (many of which I’ve had to pay for). She has her Treat Yo Self days just like the rest of us, and frankly she deserves them — being as adorable as her is hard work. I mean her catchphrase is “I am a cutie pie” and you can’t really argue with that one.

But under all of this, Samanda is a Carnegie Mellon student at heart. I’ve seen her pour hours and hours into studying for her classes, plus her work ethic is astounding.

She’s probably one of the most hardworking individuals I know and at a school like CMU that’s saying a lot. Just take a look at one the many white boards she’s used up in the Stever study lounges! 

Just like the rest of us Samanda celebrates her wins and analyzes her losses with the goal of bettering herself. But what sets her apart is that she’s never afraid to ask for help. And that is a quality that many of us lack. I cannot even begin to tell you how dedicated she is to herself and how down she can be when she falls a little short. But remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

She’s crazy. Crazy adorable, crazy smart, and crazy passionate.

This Venezuelan beauty’s heart is in the work and that is why she truly belongs here.