Meet Rachelle Samson: Avid Optimist

Rachelle Samson is a junior at the University of Central Florida and is anything but ordinary. Not only is she a student, but she is a sorority sister, a friend, a confidante, a UCF employee and a giver. She makes sure to always stay involved because she is truly a people person and tries her absolute best to put others before herself. She has participated in Knight-Thon, UCF’s largest student run philanthropy three years in a row, has volunteered at many events with her sorority’s partnership, Girls on the Run, and lends words of advice and a smile to anyone that needs it. Rachelle is a part of the Rosen School of Hospitality at UCF and strives to make people’s experiences more positive and enjoyable overall. She really believes in always treating others how she would want to be treated and because of this, she enjoys hospitality so much. I had the privilege of hearing all of this from Rachelle herself and I was also able to sit down with her and listen to what she is interested in, what she is passionate about and just simply what she enjoys spending her time doing.

 

Q: What are you involved in at UCF and how has it impacted you?

A: What really [led] me to get so involved at UCF was when I visited my cousin Brandi at USF. I was able to see how outgoing and fun her sorority sisters were and it definitely inspired me to want to find that at UCF. I definitely think I found that through the women of Gamma Phi Beta, they’re all really outgoing and they build me up, along with “Building Strong Girls”, which is our philanthropic mission. Through Gamma Phi I’ve been involved with 5Ks and different community events. Being able to see [the girls]  smiling, accomplished faces after doing [the 5K] definitely was a highlight for me. I’ve also done Knight-Thon, UCF’s largest student-run philanthropy. This was my third year and we raised over 1.25 million for the kids! Being able to be involved with Gamma Phi Beta has also helped me get involved with more activities on campus. As far as the other activities I’ve been involved with… I work for UCF Athletics. In addition, I had a food and beverage internship with the DoubleTree by Hilton last summer and that was eye-opening and it definitely showed me that hospitality is where I belong. That internship was incredible. One of the main things I loved about working at the DoubleTree was that they were very inclusive with special needs adults and I was able to teach them life skills that can help them get a job in the future.

 

 

 

Q: Why are you passionate about UCF?

A: You know the saying that UCF stands for Under Construction Forever? I think that’s a good thing because it shows that we’re always growing and always thriving and keeping up with the times. There are so many innovations that take place all the time. It’s great being able to see that incorporated within our campus life. Also, being able to see inventions such as the Limb It Less program (where they create robotic arms for children). We made them for only $300 at UCF and normally they’re at least $1000. Also, we’re one of the largest colleges in the nation so being able to see how [UCF] built itself from the ground up is incredible. It started off as a very small school and now it’s the biggest. Every year it gets so much better. I’m also passionate about the diversity you find here because you can look around and never see the same type of person. As well, getting to be a part of a sorority that’s so diverse has been a privilege for me. I wouldn’t want to be around the same people all the time.

 

 

 

Q: What first got you interested in Hospitality?

A: I love people and I always have. I believe I’m very caring and optimistic about people and what they go through on a daily basis. I’m always kind to other people because you never know what someone is going through. I actually remember when I first toured Rosen. I was a freshman in highschool and my tour guide told us about how everyone is welcoming and a team player and friendly and I remember something clicking when I heard those words. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more. It’s something that I wanted to pursue because I’ve always been the type to put other people’s happiness before my own so being able to do that would be amazing. At the end of the day, you’ve gotta love what you do and hospitality is definitely something I love. Also, Disney is my whole life. I’m absolutely obsessed and since they are our hospitality organization, it’s yet another reason why I decided to pursue it. They definitely inspired me to pursue hospitality and hospitality is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

 

 

Q: Was there an event recently or in the past that greatly shaped you into the person you are today?

A: When I was 13, I lost a friend of mine who took her life. I was very young and I tried to be one of those people who tried to get her away from all of that and tell her how awesome she was and be there for her, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough. To this day, I try to move forward and be positive and me being this way wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for that traumatic experience. I think it’s kind of insane that nowadays people have to go through something like that to realize that the way you treat other people affects them. Honestly, if I didn’t go through that experience when I was very young, I may not be as kind and understanding and patient with people as I am now. For a long time I didn’t really talk about this because it’s hard to talk about, when you think about stuff like that, but that definitely pushed me to be who I am today. Again, everything I do, from giving someone a compliment to treating other people with respect, it's because of her and I try to do it to honor her ever since that day. Sometimes when people are mean to you, you just want to sink down and be cruel, but it’s just as easy to be nice as it is to be cruel. I’m happy that I always choose the higher approach and make sure to be a better person to people.

 

Also, while I was in college my parents got divorced. It happened my freshman year of college two weeks before final exams and it felt like my world was turning upside down. Even when you think you expect it, you never truly expect it until it happens and it’s at your doorstep. I had to push myself to get through my final exams and to pass my classes and I did. It was hard for me because in high school I was always a straight A, honor-roll student, but going through something like that was really hard to be able to push [myself] and study. But I passed my classes and it motivated me to push myself throughout college and showed me that no matter what life throws my way, I’ll always be able to come out on top. I think that definitely helped me become the strong person that I am today.

 

 

 

 

Q: Who would you consider to be your role model(s)?

A:  As cliche as it sounds, I think my role models would be my grandma and my mom. My grandma actually had to pack up and move all of her things from New Jersey to South Florida with my mom and it takes a lot to be able to move to a completely different state and start a whole new life and my grandma did that. She actually passed away last summer. She had lung cancer and in some of her last days… whenever I would take care of her and visit her, she would still always have a smile on her face and just have so much resiliency. Something that also always reminded me of her was that she loved birds. She loved being around them, she loved looking at them, even cuddling with them. I think it’s cool that she loved birds so much because birds do represent resiliency because they defy gravity everyday and my grandma definitely broke free from the bonds of her sickness and defied gravity as well with her smile.

 

Also, when my mom made the decision [to start off on her own] that took strength and she came out of it on top and was a strong woman. I think that says a lot and she is definitely my other role model as well.

 

 

 

Q: What would your dream date be?

A: An ideal date for me would be a Disney day. I feel completely invincible when I’m at Disney. I feel like my whole self and being able to share that with someone else would be really fun and it also has the potential to be very romantic and cute.

 

As far as a first date, honestly it doesn’t matter what the actual date is. My ideal [first] date would be just him planning it and showing initiative. That would make me appreciate him a lot more. I’m not a materialistic person so honestly something like a dinner or movie would be fine with me, as long as he planned it.

 

 

 

 

Q: What would your dream job be?

A: I would love to work at a Walt Disney World Resort, the Grand Floridian in particular. I just think it’s so beautiful. However, I’m a very open-minded person and even if I don’t get hired with Disney right away I want to be able to work at different places with different backgrounds so that I can hopefully end up at Disney. Disney, as an organization, has had a huge impact on my life.

 

 

Q: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

A: Energetic, optimistic and friendly. Definitely those three. I actually won the “Most Friendly” senior superlative at my high school for the class of 2014.

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much Rachelle for letting me sit down and get to know a little bit more about the person you are and your experiences that you have had here at UCF and beyond. We wish you the best in your future professional field of Hospitality and know that you will shine with your kind and welcoming personality!