CONCHO — It could have been that one class in robotics that encouraged his interest in that side of the sciences; the one he took in the seventh grade at the Concho Elementary School as an elective with his teacher, Gina Walther Prichard. Indeed, a class that intrigued him so much that he continued to take robotics at the Blue Ridge High School in Pinetop-Lakeside, and then won a prize for design at the February 2020 Vex competition.
That same robotic was part of his interview at Arizona State University. It may have had something to do with Samuel getting a full scholarship into the nursing program. It could have, but then he met the other criteria including excellent grades and it all came together. He is getting ready to leave Concho, and with everything waiting for him, by the Medallion Scholarship nursing program, so is humankind.
He stands tall and clear in his own space no matter where he is. He knows what he is doing and who he is going to be. The past and future are presented in organized squares and thoughts. He smiles often and looks into the world with the assuredness of someone older than his 17 years. I told myself that I wouldn’t mention his age, then I realize that for any generation, any time period, Samuel Rea is what the human community needs.
Today, as Samuel embarks on his right of passage of leaving home and going forward to expand his education, his talk goes from getting a bachelor’s degree in the ASU nursing program to a master’s degree in anesthesiology after a year of working in an ICU. “I applied online, and they asked things like who I was, so I had to create a resume. I am fortunate to get the scholarship,” he says.
“As a 7th grader, Samuel Rea was a bright, respectful and quiet student in the classroom. He was tall for his age so naturally the coach wanted him on the basketball team. Later, he signed up for my Robotics elective; this is where he thrived, in a small group of seemingly unstructured learning. He was able to use his intelligence yet still have fun. He would take the lead role on his team and respectfully included them, yet leading them through to meet the next challenge,” Ms. Prichard said.
He shares that creating robotics, to possibly getting a degree as a medical doctor down the road, is a full spectrum of possibilities. His mother notes his tendency toward being a perfectionist. He smiles when she offers words about his discipline. The thought of fusing the nursing anesthesiology profession, and his interest in robotics and possibly a medical degree, lights up his dreams.
He continued robotics at the Blue Ridge High School with Mr. Fogel, and in February 2020 won best design with his robotic. He then took this creation to his interview at Arizona State University as an inclusive demonstration for the Medallion Scholarship. Out of 840 applicants for the Medallion Scholarship, Samuel was one out of 40 awardees.
“He often gave his group the best ideas and when they saw how his ideas panned out, he gained a lot of respect,” Prichard continued. “I was thrilled to learn of Sam’s acceptance into ASU and receiving a scholarship.” The Medallion Scholarship requires, “Leadership, scholarship, service and participation in a mentorship program, and to keep a satisfactory grade-point average,” according to their ASU Alumni Association Awards press release.
“I’ve always been fascinated by helping others and the human body. Right now, I am working on digging trenches and seeding in the yard and gardening,” Samuel says. Sometimes, spending time with his friends, the outdoor life of swimming and hiking and fishing pull him into moments of relaxation.
Samuel recommends that high school students looking to have a good future should, “Have a good work ethic, go to college or a trade school, and live out your dreams. Don’t let anyone stop you.”
He isn’t waiting for the world to calm down before he attends ASU to begin his new life as a full-time student. His mind is quiet and strong and his greatest allies, his family, who have been inspiring him all along, will be standing in the frame of the door in their Concho, Arizona home watching him leave knowing his focus is on solid ground.