Student Profile: Albert Samaha

Saturday, January 1, 2011

In the fall of 2009 the margins of Albert Samaha’s playbook were filled with indecipherable cursive scribble. Some football related, many more not. Observations, article ideas, notes for books. “Whenever there were lulls in meetings, like if I arrived early or when coaches were setting up the film projector, my mind shifted to writing,” says Samaha, a senior Communication Studies major, “That’s when I realized it was time to retire, time to move on. My passion for writing had utterly overwhelmed my passion for football.”

After he graduates this coming May, Samaha will be attending Columbia University School of Journalism.

Samaha will be graduating from USD after just three years, in large part due to the credits he garnered as a full diploma International Baccalaureate candidate at Mira Loma High School in Sacramento. As a result, he will hold the odd distinction of graduating from college before turning twenty-one.

Over the past year, Samaha has gained a wealth of writing experience through several internships and jobs. He has written for as a featured columnist, as a sports reporter, and Philippine Headlines Newspaper as a features writer. Last Summer and Winter breaks Albert traveled to Italy to co-write the English version of the autobiography of Tomas Concepcion, the Filipino artist and former congressman.

In addition Samaha has contributed to USD’s campus paper The Vista since his freshman year. As a staff writer this year, he has had his work appear in the News, Arts & Culture, Feature, and Sports sections.

“I love carefully structuring my thoughts and meticulously selecting and ordering every word to construct the most perfect, or better yet idiosyncratically imperfect, story possible,” says Samaha on his love for writing.

Samaha  believes his passion for journalism and writing stems from his nomadic childhood. Between kindergarten and eighth grade, he attended six different schools in four different cities, in two different countries. “I was driven by the thrill of adapting to the environment around me, of walking into a dead-silent classroom a month into the semester absorbing every judgmental eight year old eye and automatically becoming the base of the social totem pole, of making friends from less than scratch without seeming like a desperate rube,” he remarks with a chuckle. Thus he learned the importance of observation and social empathy- two of journalism’s most essential pillars. Observe to adapt, observe to understand, observe because he didn’t know where to go or who to talk to during recess.

A member of Lambda Pi Eta, Samaha takes great pride in his Communication Studies major. “Journalism is about people- speaking with people, writing about people, conveying thoughts to people,” he says. “Communication theories and research sharpen this essential understanding of human interaction. And media studies instills a self-awareness in journalists, highlighting the flaws of the past, the hope for the future, and the power of the craft.”

Samaha dreams of one day writing for a major publication, such as New Yorker, Time, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, or the New York Times. “The most significant problem in this world is ignorance and apathy. The discourse in society is dictated by the elites. Stories only enter the zone of legitimate controversy when there is debate amongst those in power,” says Albert, “My ultimate goal as a writer is to provide the pubic with a reliable voice to turn to in the midst of irrational debate, in times of utter turmoil. To provide original, enlightening, thought-provoking ideas and creative, resonating stories. An informed and knowledgeable citizenry is the key to an effective democracy, the key to maximizing social justice and minimizing social divides.”

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