Meet your College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Spring 2023 student commencement speaker Sam Stoltz! 

Sam is a double major in Political Science (Global Politics concentration) and International Studies (Middle East North Africa concentration), on top of being the president of the Arabic Club in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. 

Get to know Sam more below before seeing him take the stage this Saturday at the 2023 CLA Commencement! 

Spring 2023 student commencement speaker Sam Stoltz
Sam Stoltz

Looking back at your time at CSU, do you have any favorite experiences that stand out to you? 

One of my favorite CSU experiences has to be studying abroad. In 2021, I went to Amman, Jordan, and I lived in the city for five months with a hosting family, and it was a really excellent experience. I got to visit Petra and Wadi Rum, take Arabic classes and geopolitics classes, and explore the country.  

At the end of my study abroad trip, I got to do an independent research project on disability rights in Jordan. I presented my findings to the Higher Council on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  

You didn’t minor in Arabic, but can you talk about the investment you made in learning Arabic at CSU that helped you while abroad?  

The Arabic classes here at CSU are so helpful. I took one year here before I went abroad to Amman, Jordan, and I certainly wasn’t fluent, but understanding the basics, like the basic structure of the language, really helped me pick up a lot more quickly when I was living in the community. So I really think that year set me up for success. 

I’m one of the co-founders and president of Arabic Club here on campus this year, which has been so much fun. We founded it this fall, and we meet every single week. Some of my favorite events have been Arabic movie nights, where we show Arabic movies with English subtitles. We have Arabic practice nights where we’ll work with the community and educate people on some basic Arabic phrases.  

But my favorite event was this past spring, when we brought Amal Kassir, a Syrian American spoken word poet to campus to talk about issues affecting the refugees and immigrant communities and how we can support them. 

What’s next for you? 

I’m actually moving to Morocco for two and a half years with the Peace Corps. I’m going to serve as a youth development specialist somewhere in the country, living amongst the community, doing social-emotional development, and promoting civic engagement. Then when I come back in 2025, I plan to apply to grad school. 

What about your college experience are you most proud of? 

I’m really proud of just figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I came to college as a biomedical sciences major, and then changed all the way over to political science and began studying Arabic.

Spring 2023 student commencement speaker Sam Stoltz
Sam Stoltz

Four years ago, I never would have imagined that I could have pointed out Morocco or Jordan on a map and just having the process of growing into myself is something that I’m really proud of. 

Any advice for your fellow graduates? 

I think my biggest advice for fellow graduates would be to accept uncertainty. I’m definitely a big planner. I’m not always a great acceptor of my own advice, but sometimes you’ll plan five or ten years out in the future and something like a pandemic comes up, and you’ll change your college major.  

So being open to new opportunities has been something that has really been important to me. Just staying flexible and knowing who I am, but still allowing myself to take advantage of things that come along. 

A new class of students is headed for CSU this coming Fall – what advice do you have for them? 

It’s very similar, but my advice to new students would be don’t be afraid to explore outside of your own major program. I think a lot of times we tend to get stuck in the mindset that ‘I’m a political science major, so everything must be political science focused. If it’s not related to my career, it’s a waste of time’.  

Some of the things that have developed me the most as a person and that I think are important parts of my resume and my experience here at CSU haven’t been related at all to Arabic or political science or foreign policy. So don’t be afraid to just build a more interdisciplinary and rich experience here at CSU over the next four years.