Junior Multicultural Director Preaches Hard Work, Diversity
By Cooper Nelson
GCU Today Magazine
Since she first volunteered for student government in the sixth grade, Grand Canyon University junior Samara “Samy” Carlon never has lost sight of how to grow as a leader and connect with other students.
She serves as a diplomat for diversity, helping students understand unfamiliar cultures and view the world from an alternative perspective. As multicultural director for the Associated Students of GCU campus government, Carlon supports more than 130 international students.
Her duties include spreading cultural awareness through events such as an international education week and monthly farmers’ markets featuring ethnic cuisine not commonly found in the campus cafeteria. Carlon also serves as vice president for GCU’s chapter of the DECA business club and formerly served as treasurer for the Latino Student Union.
Carlon’s family moved to Arizona from Mexico City when she was 4. She knew that finding a university she could afford would be challenging.
“I was one of those kids that always loved school, and it really hit me hard when I realized how difficult (going to) college would be,” said Carlon, a double-major in business management and sociology who is known around the campus for her work ethic and endearing personality.
“College was always something I had envisioned, but the ‘how’ was becoming more difficult,” she said.
Carlon, 20, initially applied to Arizona State University but was deterred by expensive out-of-state tuition. A counselor at Peoria High School encouraged her to apply to GCU, where she earned a $10,000 scholarship for her grades.
“I was like, there is no way I could get paid to do something I love,” Carlon said. “I felt like God was calling me (to GCU).”
Carlon served as senior class president her senior year at Peoria High and immediately became involved in GCU student government. She ran as a vice presidential candidate as a freshman and joined the ASGCU activities team as a sophomore. She now works in GCU’s Ken Blanchard College of Business to help manage event-planning for the Blanchard speaker series.
Stacy Garrett, director of professional studies and academic excellence for the business college, said Carlon “emerged as a leader right away.” She has since developed as a trusted representative for GCU undergraduate business programs, Garrett said.
Carlon’s schedule keeps her busy, though perhaps her biggest contribution to GCU is her service to the campus Hispanic community. Since joining the Latino Student Union two years ago, Carlon helped increase Latino student involvement on campus, and she leveraged her position as multicultural director to help other students understand the often-polarizing political issues that impact many Latinos.
GCU senior Viridiana Hernandez assisted Carlon in bringing Latino heritage events to campus and campaigning for current Phoenix District 5 City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, a firefighter and first-time political candidate who two years ago became the first-ever Latino representative of his vastly Latino district.
Hernandez said Carlon’s position as multicultural director gives her the ability to serve the Latino community that makes up nearly one-third of the campus student population.
“With Samy being in her position, you see (Latino cultural representation and education) on the walls and you see it happening on campus,” Hernandez said. “It’s good to see something around campus that talks about other cultures.
“Seeing (Samy’s efforts) around GCU makes a difference to the individuals of other cultures that see it.”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.