But I have also seen how strong God is in those moments. If there’s one thing I have learnt through school is that He has His Hand on my life. Nothing can take that away.
CASS: Ok so for this week, we are having the spotlight on a senior. This one in particular is one that I have admired for such a long time. I really love his love for God and his facebook posts which are well grounded in the faith.
That’s so encouraging
CASS: I have with me here Sam and I will let him introduce himself.
Yeah sure! My name is Sam. Full name is Samuel Andrew Augustus Hinshelwood, two middle names. There’s a story behind that, we can get into it later. I came from an immigrant family; a Jamaican immigrant family. Both of my parents immigrated from Jamaica when they were young. My mum was brought over with the help of my grandmother who was a nurse way back when she was about ten years old. My dad kind of has a similar story; his mother was also a nurse. She came around at a relatively similar age; about 14 or 15. I didn’t really take stock of that, I just kind of grew up Jamaican American. We just called it Jamerican.
Both Laugh hilariously
Yeah so that was me. I didn’t think anything really of it, I was just a black kid. And then I realized I had kind of dual backgrounds now – particulars I have learnt about myself here.
CASS: Nice, nice. Do you have siblings?
Yeah yeah. I have two older sisters and one younger brother. A really young brother, his name is Malcom. He is 5 now? 5 or 6. I have to check. Being away from home for 4 years makes you just lose track of things. My oldest sister name is Andrea and she is 29, ruefully. According to her she doesn’t want to be that. I have an older than me but younger than her sister named Alessia. She is 4 years older than me, so what does that make her? 26. We actually share the same birthday. I came on her 1st birthday party so you can imagine, she was so angry. So I’m told. She was really angry. This was her 4th birthday and her 1st birthday party and I just imagine they were about to cut the cake and Mummy’s going into labor.
Drowned in laughter.
So she, I think she hated me for a large part of my life. It was mostly a joke, I think. You know, I wanna sit down with her and talk about it. So that was funny; she really wanted a birthday party too.
CASS: Lol, she has every reason to be angry. So I guess you have had the same birthday party since then?
Yeah so we pretty much did everything together. They will take us out to eat at the same time. We did not get the same gifts. It’s been interesting and kind of fun.
CASS: Nice Sam, interesting story. Ok so where are you from?
I am from Chicago, the south suburbs of Chicago. Originally Dolton, Illinois which is where my mother and my father lived and they divorced in 2007 and then split and only moved a mile away from each other. So my father still lives in Dolton and my mum lives in South Holland and I moved with her in middle school. I am actually considering going back after school; I feel that there’s some work that I can do there and that will be pretty cool. And I miss my family; it’s been a long time and do they even know me anymore?
CASS: If you were to use one word to describe your family, what will it be?
Oh my gosh!
Maybe that’s the word!!
I would say Indescribable; they’re such a mix of everything. Like when we have our get- togethers because we we all come together on Christmas and Thanksgiving (except me on Thanksgiving), we just see so many personalities; loud, boisterous, fun, we play cards, people are just crazy.
CASS: Is there a quiet one among you?
Oh yeah absolutely. My sister, Alicia, will be the quiet one but even she is blossom. She has her own quirks. I’m also pretty reserved but I feel like in a similar way I have become more comfortable being chill. I’m kinda goofy. Reserved and goofy when you get to know me.
CASS: That’s one interesting family. Ok so let’s transition to your time here at Stanford. What’s your major?
I am CS right now. Woo! It’s been a journey to say the least! Uhm, it’s been a lot of struggle, a lot of struggle honestly. And it’s been probably the biggest grower of my faith.
CASS: Were you CS before Stanford?
So I was like techy nerdy before Stanford. I just like computers and I found that I was really good with them. My grandmother, for example, would always ask me for help with setting up her computer and getting on facebook which is a whole other story.
Both drowning in a pool of laughter
Yeah she’s on facebook. Ok so this is a tangent. In like 2008, she said, oh and we have a video of this on facebook, my grandmother was like “I would like to be on facebook” in her Jamaican accent, And we like “No grandma, you don’t need to be on facebook”. She said “ I heard there’s a facebook for seniors”. We said “Grandma, that doesn’t exist and you don’t need facebook, you just don’t need it”. But she insisted on it and this is after we fought to get her to use the computer. She didn’t want to use that but we said “no, it will be good for you”. And she said “No, I’m never learning and she got on it and wouldn’t get off of it”. When she found facebook, she said it was a commercial. Yeah so that happened. She fought us for a while so we eventually put her on facebook. Till this day, she is successfully on facebook and she posts, just like me, Bible verses and stuff. She’s very active, she loves connecting with her siblings and stuff. Yeah so what was I talking about?
CASS: CS, Stanford..
Yeah so before school I just loved computer. I was a gamer too. So that kind of fit into each other and my uncle, I credit for my interest too, he had a room in my grandmother’s house and the door was always closed and one day I looked in there and saw blinking lights , heard fans and I was like,”What’s in there?”. But he would never let me in there. He was also an engineer working for Discover; I think he may be in a managerial role now. So my interest kinda stem from there. He helped me build my first computer when I entered high school and from there I thought I was gonna stick with that. So I looked up CS106A lectures my senior year of high school and watched it and I was like “oh, I’m gonna take this class”. And from there, I just kinda continued in CS.
CASS: Awesome! You said something about CS building your faith in God and I would want you to elaborate on that.
Yeah, wow, there are so many parts of the story. CS has been very hard for me in a lot of ways. It has been very fulfilling but also very hard. I don’t fully know, but I guess I was not entirely prepared for the rigorous college experience. And then people told me, of course, that I was really smart so that went into my head.
CASS: Hmmm, I get you.
But then coming here, I needed a formal plan of study. I needed an academic skill set that I didn’t have and at the same time, I had no background really in CS. No one in my family had done software engineering. So it was entirely new and the core curriculum, CS107, took me through it! I was, yeah, i had no sleep. I was deprived of lots of basic necessities; partly my fault because I just didn’t have that much discipline. But, using that as a case study, I have through the worst of time and I have seen myself. But I have also seen how strong God is in those moments. If there’s one thing I have learnt through school is that He has His Hand on my life. Nothing can take that away. I can literally run away and He will grab me back and He will not stop loving me. And that’s something I have come to realize I just can’t do away with. I am in His presence and He is continually in my life. There were moments I felt I would have dropped out and I could have and even if that happened I would very much be in His plan. Full disclosure, I actually got on academic probation and was working through that and still working through that actually but it’s in a lot of ways shown me how faithful He’s been.
He uses every single moment of difficulty to refine me. In the moments I will be be like “What are you doing? Why is this happening” but afterwards I would realize how perfectly it fit into the plan He has for me and the path that I’m seeing being formed. I have learnt, as times have passed, to be okay with the struggles that come and with things that are not expected and even with the expected difficulties because I just realize it’s all purposed, every single part. I don’t know, maybe He would have taught me in a different way, but I feel that this was a time of difficulty that was so purposed and I feel like I have grown a lot through it.
CASS: Wow! I feel so blessed by what you just shared. God bless you. So Sam you’re in a number of Christian communities on campus. Can you talk a little bit them and how they have also impacted your life?
Yeah! So one of the big ones was Stanford Gospel Choir. I joined the Gospel Choir because my RA Phil made me. Freshman year, he said “you coming? I heard you listen to Gospel music”. So yeah I will come every so often and a lot of weeks I wouldn’t. But I fell into it eventually and it was very cool; it was a community. It was a lot of fun; we had our first show freshman year.
CASS: Oh yeah, I remember going to one of your shows where you sang this Ghanaian worship song and I was like YES!
Oh yeah!! “You are the Most High God?” It was splendid! Yeah that was last year; we will get there. So freshman year, first performance, never sang in front of people before and they gave me a solo. Urghh. Laughs. I was like “Why are y’all doing this to me?” because I actually had the worst stage fright for the better half of my life. I just don’t like attention. Sophomore year, the seniors left and we kinda became the core leadership and we started developing it out kinda from scratch. I was Financial Officer and we had a nice year and a good show and then they asked me to be the director.
See but I didn’t feel that way and I had a looming fear from the year before that were gonna ask me to be the director. I just felt it and i was like “No God, I don’t want that”. I could just tell, I really liked it and I feel like they could tell my commitment. And God had been developing, I had noticed. So I sang a lot of gospel music in my car in high school and that was private. And then it just kind of carried over in the gospel choir. So they asked me to be the director, me and Carra Rentie and I was like (makes success fist pump) petrified! But in the midst of the petrification I knew God was doing something. And so I told God if it is something that He wants me to do then He should help me to do it. Someway somehow, I came to the decision to say yes. Me and Carra prepped over that summer and then we directed last year and it was really sweet.
CASS: Yeah that was amazing.
Chi Alpha is another community I feel i have learnt a lot from. For example, y’all do pancakes! I came freshman year and I was like Woooo! We’re really about to do this! We’re passing out pancakes to people who are in all sorts of states of minds and we’re telling them about Jesus. That was like Wow! That is just something i had never seen before. And from that experience I think I learnt how to pray out loud with people which turned out to be very important. Because all of last year, when I was on staff at Ujamaa, I was praying out loud with people and I think that really made a big difference. I don’t know how or what the long lasting effects of that was but it was really important. Yeah Chi Alpha made me grow in a lot of ways and that was just one example.
CASS: Ok so if were to give an advice to say a freshman exploring Christianity on campus, what will it be?
It’s hard to say the difficulty is good for you, so I won’t say that. I will say in moments that you feel that you are at your lowest, in moments that you don’t recognize yourself, know that God still recognizes you. Not even still, it never stopped. He has always known who you are and His hands have never left you. And He sits with you in the midst of the deepest things.
But in the midst of the petrification I knew God was doing something.
CASS: Sam’s Fave’s Corner
- Hobbies: Singing, listening to music (has the gift of picking apart the different parts), enjoying a good meal, bowling, learning new things
- Second favorite color: soft purple (favorite is blue)
- Second favorite dish: Pasta (doesn’t know what his favorite dish is but knows what second favorite dish is because it’s less pressure)
- Least favorite ice-cream: Strawberry (If you like strawberry, he’s sorry)
- Favorite song: Right now, it’s “Just want you” by Travis Greene (changes every week)
- Second favorite movie of all time: The Bible Series (just being a full on Christian)
CASS: Are you dating?
I am not, there’s a whole story on that but I am working it out. I am enjoying my singleness; I feel like I have a lot more growing to do. I am open for God to tell me that this is the one!
Thank you so much Sam!!!!