EdLF alumnus Sam Brown shares why he has a love for learning and how he has created a culture to encourage others to do the same
Being the new kid on campus has always been a trend for Sam Brown, educational leadership and foundations graduate. Growing up, Brown attended four different high schools and three different colleges before obtaining his bachelor’s degree in English literature from BYU. From those experiences, he found a love for education. He also attributes an interest in education to his parents. “My father was an educator, my mother was an educator, so it’s kind of in my blood. Education was a big draw,” said Brown. In fact, the same day Brown was defending his EdD dissertation at BYU, he was starting classes for another master’s degree in academic advisement at Kansas State.
In his current role as director of International Student and Scholar Services at BYU, Brown helps guide international students and visiting scholars who are new to campus. He meets with students individually, making them feel like a part of BYU campus. However, Brown feels that the students make themselves a part of campus on their own with the insights they have. “The diversity and enrichment these students bring to campus with their perspectives and insight is phenomenal,” Brown said.
In 2013, Brown was accepted into BYU’s EdLF program. However, he was denied twice before being admitted. “On the third time it was like I was going to see the writing on the wall— ‘if I don’t get admitted this time, I am going to look at other programs,’” he said. Brown was interested in the EdLF program because of the opportunity to learn how to better work with people and organizations within education. Although he was excited to join the program, he was still hesitant of some parts. “I was pretty confident I would be able to handle the coursework, but I was scared of the research because I was not sure if I would enjoy it or be good at it,” he admitted.
After being in class, Brown quickly learned he absolutely loved the research, to the point where he has continued to do it even after graduating from the program, which led to amazing experiences. He credits this to the connections he made through the program. “I was able to work with people like Pam Hallam, who kept encouraging me to continue working on the research I started. Because of this, we have been able to go to various parts of the world and publish multiple times,” said Brown. Last semester, Brown traveled to New Zealand with Hallam and two other students where they conducted research on collective efficacy in schools.
One of the most important concepts Brown learned from the EdLF program was creating a culture within an organization that has a positive impact on all individuals. “It doesn’t matter how great your structure is and what plans you have in place; your culture is what drives and dictates what happens and how your people enjoy their experience or not,” he said.
At the International Student and Scholar Services Office, Brown has created a culture that promotes learning. “You can’t go through a program that’s focused on education and not think how to better educate students,” he said. He explained how the program reinvigorated his drive to help individual students and to spend time with them. “We’re here to make better lives for people and education does that; you get to be a part of that every time you sit down with a student.”
Attending various schools and getting multiple degrees helped Brown gain firsthand experience on the importance and benefits of learning. Continuing one’s education is something he always advises his students to do. “Being able to say ‘It’s blessed me and benefited me’ gives me the credibility to encourage them to continue and not stop at a bachelor’s degree. The more education you get, the better off you will be.”
When asked about his career goals, Brown was not completely sure, but said he plans to follow the advice he gives to others by carrying forward a culture of learning. “I would like to continue to research and publish. It’s a surprising thing I have found I love. And it’s been wonderful to continue.”
Writer: Cameron Hussein
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922