As a former St. Jerome’s Head Start student, Samuel Burris is committed to the ideals and goals he established at a very young age. Sam credits his commitment to education and leadership skills to his experience at St. Jerome’s Head Start. Through the lessons of his teacher Betsy Camak, he began to learn to care for others, instilling in Sam a true compassion which is evident through his hard work and dedication to community service.
Mary Gunning, Director of St Jerome’s Head Start, says that the excellence Sam has achieved is the ultimate goal of Head Start programs. “One of the goals of our program is to increase the social competence of young children in order for them to become effective in dealing with their present environment and later responsibilities in school and in life,” she says. This social competence has not only helped Sam to achieve academically but has instilled in him the importance of giving back.
In 2009 Sam graduated from Coppin State University, where he earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice. During his senior year at Coppin, Sam was elected Chair of the Baltimore City Youth Commission, where he worked in conjunction with the City Council and the Mayor’s Office to address the needs of Baltimore’s youth. This honor only further speaks to Sam’s dedication to making his city a better place for others. It was also during this time that Sam became involved in several other youth programs across the city, including the Students Achieving Future Excellence (SAFE) mentor program which he founded at Beechfield Elementary School in Southwest Baltimore. He is currently working on replicating the SAFE program at other schools throughout the city.
Today, Sam is continuing his education at Virginia Union University where he is seeking a Masters in Divinity and Social Work. When asked what he wants to do in the future, Sam is quick to tell you he “wants to help more people and work in my community to give back”. As for his career aspirations, Sam would like to be the Mayor of Baltimore one day and work to become an Ambassador for President Obama. In the meantime, Sam says he “just wants to give back and live his life as the best Christian he can be.”