As a history major from Appleton, Wisconsin, Sophomore Sam Panzer would appear to be a typical college student. However, this is far from the case. Sam is an engaging, innovative student working towards strengthening the community at Gustavus.
Since his first day at Gustavus, Sam has stood out from the rest. Sam’s advisor and former First Term Seminar Professor Greg Kaster immediately noticed his potential. He remembers Sam walking into class on the first day and seeing him conversing with the other students and suggesting to make a Facebook page for the class.
“It never occurred to me to make something like a Facebook page to bring people together,” Kaster said.
His impression of him has not faltered since. From Kaster’s point of view, a Gustie is someone “fully engaged in the work of living and learning; who is open to new ideas and experiences and is fully engaged in his world.” He firmly believes that Sam exhibits all these qualities.
Sam was drawn to Gustavus by its familiar Midwestern feel, the personalized attention from the faculty and staff, and most importantly, the sense of community on campus. Community is where he devotes his time to bettering.
Throughout his two years at Gustavus, Sam has thrown himself into a myriad of activities including music, Greek life, Collegiate Fellows (CFs), Ambassadors program, and starting a satirical campus newspaper. Of all these extracurricular involvements, Sam finds being a CF in Pittman the most rewarding.
“I first applied because I was drawn to a leadership position, but it has turned into an extremely valuable experience,” Sam said.
Director of Residential Life Charlie Potts described the position for “student leaders who help create safe, comfortable and welcoming environments in our residence halls.”
He saw first years going through the same struggles he had experienced and now he has a chance to help them.
“Sam has so many outstanding personal qualities that exemplify all that we look for in a CF. He’s engaging, reliable, personable, and has a strong sense of personal integrity,” Potts said.
This position has allowed him to discover his true passion. “One thing I realized about myself in the last two years is that I feel fulfilled helping other people, and Gustavus has provided me the opportunity to do that,” Sam said.
Now, many students have heard the words “Fourth Crown” and “genius” buzzing around campus, evidence of yet another accomplishment of Sam’s. The hilarious satirical newspaper Sam created, along with his friends Justin Feit and Nate Long, has quickly gained popularity.
“I’ve always liked the Onion, and I enjoy making people laugh,” Sam said.
However, he did not expect over 20,000 online viewers after a couple months of writing. Even the faculty and staff enjoy getting a few laughs from it.
“After reading some of [Sam’s] work on The Fourth Crown, it’s clear he’d raise the bar if he joined the staff at the Onion,” Potts said.
Senior Justin Feit, Calendar Editor for The Gustavian Weekly, has high regard for Sam.
“Sam is an engaged student on campus–whether that is as a CF, an Ambassador, a fraternity brother, or a great, caring friend, he exhibits all of the best qualities of a Gustie. In both The Fourth Crown and in dressing up as Jack Ohle, Sam toes the fine line of humor and respect that is really admirable and indicative of the strength of character that he possesses,”Feit said.
When he’s not making people laugh or participating in his multitude of activities, Sam is thinking about the future. He firmly believes that “being an engaged Gustie is focusing on the here and now and preparing for a meaningful career.”
He is pre-med along with his history major, a very ambitious combination. He plans to go to medical school and eventually become a psychiatrist, following in the footsteps of his father.
“Practicing psychiatry is an incredibly important field of study, especially with our country’s issues with mental illness,” Sam said.
As for his next two and a half years at Gustavus, Sam has impressive plans for his fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He wants to work toward better establishing the SAE chapter on campus through personal development, networking with Alumni, and increasing membership.
“Building the SAE community is one of my top priorities for my final years at Gustavus,” Sam said.
Within minutes of meeting Sam it is clear that, among his many admirable traits, he has pride in his school, and we are certainly proud to have him.