Samuel McQuillen

Major 1: Economics

Major 2: International Affairs

300 Word Statement

Coming from a poor household in rural Pennsylvania, I remember my first weeks at Lafayette as a blur of culture shock. How could my peers afford to take weekend trips to New York? Why was everyone so confident in their future? And how could I possibly lead change at a place like Lafayette?

Rather than give in to resignation, however, I viewed this challenge as inspiration. I immediately took advantage of the new opportunities that became available to me – I successfully secured a place on the Varsity Fencing Team, tried our Shakespearean theater, and even hosted my own radio show. However, I also engaged with campus groups whose activities were more families, such as Theater Underground and Lafayette Juggling Club. Throughout the next four years, I both taught and learned from my peers, ultimately attaining leadership positions within many student groups. From organizing Humans vs. Zombies to hosting talent showcases, I continuously worked to incorporate my organizations into the greater campus community.

Perhaps more than any other experience at Lafayette, traveling to Madagascar was transformative for me. In the country’s capital, I worked with students whose economic constrains, intellectual curiosity, and personal ambitions were remarkably similar to my own. After this experience, I pivoted my academic interests away from finance and towards economic development and community building. I spent the next three years working with various development organizations that were both local in scope, such as EEGLP and PennEnvironment, and nationally-focused, such as the Whitman Fellowship Program and Tech Clinic.

Even though the beginning of my Lafayette career was plagued with self-doubt, the Lafayette community provided me the support that allowed me to prosper. Against all odds, I have left my mark on our campus, and I will continue to represent the Lafayette ideals as I fight to change the world.

Academic Activities/Awards – Total Years Involved

  • Marquis Scholarship (4)

Merit scholarship awarded to incoming Lafayette students

  • Beinecke Scholarship (2)

National scholarship given to students demonstrating significant financial need in order to pursue graduate school in the social sciences

  • Whitman Fellowship (1)

Fellowship given to three students to fund a development project at Lafayette; I was chosen to lead this year’s project within Appalachia

  • EXCEL Research Program (1)

Undergraduate research program that allowed me to conduct research with an IA professor related to palm-oil sustainability via RSPO certification

  • Phi Beta Kappa (2)

Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, national honors society, as a junior

  • Omicron Delta Epsilon (2)

Inducted into Omicron Delta Epsilon, national economics honors society, as a junior

  • Sigma Iota Rho (2)

Elected vice-president of Sigma Iota Rho, national international affairs honors society, as a junior

  • Robert F. Hunsicker Educational Prize (1)

Award given for excellence in the area of small business studies

  • James Alexander Petrie Prize (1)

Award given to students who demonstrate a high proficiency in French

  • Finalist for the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates-Cambridge, and Fulbright Scholarships (1)

Received interviews for these four scholarships, but ultimately was not awarded them; however, I spent a significant amount of time applying and preparing for each of them

Campus Services/Activities and Awards – Total Years Involved

  • Juggling Club (2)

Founder and president of the Lafayette College Juggling Club, an organization that provides juggling lessons and practice space for performing artists

  • Social Gaming Network (4)

President of the Social Gaming Network Lafayette, an organization that

  • Theater Underground (4)

President of Theater Underground, alternative arts and improv theater group, from spring sophomore year until fall senior year

  • Lafayette Arts Society (4)

Board member of Lafayette College Arts Society during my sophomore year, though I opted to be a member during the rest of my time at Lafayette

  • Lafayette College Ambassador Program (3)

Tour guide for the Lafayette Admissions Office, where I had the opportunity to represent the college to incoming students

  • WJRH (3)

DJ at Lafayette College’s radio station, WJRH, where I hosted an alternative music show with my cohost

  • E-Sports Club (1)

Member of the newly-formed Lafayette E-Sports club, where I participated on the Hearthstone Team

  • Lafayette College Theater (1)

Actor in The Merchant of Venice, produced by the Lafayette College Theater Department, during my first year

Community Service – Total Years Involved

  • Economic Empowerment and Global Learning Project (EEGLP) (2)

Worked with an interdisciplinary team to construct a proposal for a Makerspace in Easton in order to empower local residents and encourage entrepreneurship

  • Lafayette Initiative for Malagasy Education (1)

Mentored high school students in Madagascar as a part of a mentorship program during the winter of my sophomore year

  • Technology Clinic (1)

Undertook a development project in Weatherly, PA that sought to reimagine the town’s natural, latent assets in order to promote economic and social growth

Athletics Activity/Award – Total Years Involved

  • Varsity Fencing Team (3)

Fenced on the varsity fencing team at Lafayette despite never fencing before, ultimately achieving the captain position during my final year on the team

Special Interest – Total Years Involved

  • Academic Resource Hub Tutor (1)

Worked with my fellow students as an academic tutor for introduction to economics, econometrics, and financial theory

  • Williams Center Usher (3)

Ushered for shows for the Theater and Music Departments at Lafayette

  • PennEnvironment Lead Field Manager (1)

Worked at an environmental nonprofit in Bethlehem, where I was given the opportunity to lead a team to collect petition signatures door-to-door across the Lehigh Valley