INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY
Senior devotes time to helping inmates
Senior Samantha Gilles has mastered the task of balancing schoolwork, student groups and law school applications. The Queens resident is active with the Black Student Union, J.U.M.P. Nation, Caribbean Student Association and Thurgood Marshall Pre-Law society.
Gilles, now treasurer of BSU, last year served as the social cultural coordinator. She was in charge of organizing a youth program every Saturday for children from the local area as well as the annual fashion show.
February marks the beginning of Black History Month, which Gilles said is a busy time for BSU. “There is a poetry jam planned, as well as a gospel fest, guest speaker and other collaborations to show unity throughout different organizations,” she said.
Gilles also participates in the U.T.U.R.N. mentoring program. She spends Sundays at a maximum-security youth detention center, hoping to make a difference in inmates’ lives while learning more about how the prison system works. “The interaction shows that people do care about them and provides an outlet for them to do something different,” she said.
Mentoring also ties into Gilles’ goal of becoming a lawyer. “I want to help the underrepresented,” she said, “because when you have a public defender who doesn’t care, it doesn’t help.”
Heather Struck, director of pre-law services at the University, said she has been impressed by Gilles’ commitment and willingness to help the community. “Samantha is dedicated to giving back to the community and getting her law career started,” Struck said.
Gilles, who loves dance and music, credits her mother as her role model. “She came from another country and made it so far,” she says. “She bought a home, went to college and takes care of her responsibilities.”