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In Honor of Sam Jenkins '19

President Valerie Smith shared the following message with the community on March 20, 2017:

Dear Friends,

We continue to mourn the tragic loss of Sam Jenkins ‘19, who died yesterday. At yesterday’s Collection, students, faculty, staff and members of Sam’s family shared heartfelt reflections of a creative, joyful, and gentle individual whose infectious enthusiasm and genuine kindness made a lasting impact on our community.

“You could not have asked for a better person to know,” says Aixa Pomales, director of client services in ITS. “I cannot express how much he was loved. He was always willing to help and was just an amazing person. We lost a beautiful human being.”

“What I will remember most about Sam, having taught him in two classes this year, is his unbridled enthusiasm, infectious laughter, passion, honesty, fearlessness, curiosity, and empathy,” says Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies Rodney Evans. “I will miss him beyond measure.”

Originally from North Kingstown, R.I., Sam most recently lived in Wickford, R.I. He was a Class of 2015 graduate of La Salle Academy in Providence, where he played hockey – a sport he continued to play at Swarthmore as a goalie for the Motherpuckers.

Sam possessed an extraordinary array of interests. A member of the College’s circus club, he also built his own motorcycle. A performer in Semara Santi, Swarthmore's Balinese Gamelan ensemble, he is remembered for his passion and curiosity about the music’s cultural roots and for helping others learn how to play the instruments.

Sam was also an integral member of the close-knit team of students who staff the Help Desk. As an ITS Associate, he was a perfect fit for a position whose primary requirements matched several of his most distinctive attributes: a love of technology, an interest in helping people, and an uncanny ability to make everyone around him feel comfortable. The role also allowed Sam to infuse his work with his unique sense of humor, which is on full display in a promotional video he was instrumental in making about the position.

Sam’s distinctive fashion choices were legendary. He loved bright colors, wearing shorts or bathing trunks year-round, and full-body onesies.  Yet for all his love of fun, Sam also had a serious, thoughtful side. Stories abound of his many quiet acts of kindness and his willingness to help and reassure others. His professors note his astute and ambitious academic work, as well as his ability to integrate narrative, visual art, performance, animation, and game design in imaginative, compelling ways.

Indeed, Sam was perhaps most serious about gaming. A self-described “designer of meaningful fun,” he planned to pursue a special major in video game design and had dreams of running his own video game development studio. To Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies Bob Rehak, with whom Sam took three courses, such interests reflected Sam’s “long investment in and deep respect for interactive media, in all their classically realized and still emerging forms.”

The week prior to spring break, Sam attended a game developers conference and returned feeling confident that he had truly found what he wanted to do in life.

We will share details about a memorial service once they are finalized. Please continue to keep Sam’s parents, Stacey and Joe, and his sisters, Maddie and Nora, his extended family, and his close friends in your heart, thoughts, and prayers.


Valerie Smith