Samuel Palomares ('11) | Communication Studies
Communication major from Elsa, Texas
Students' Association executive president
From a high school mission trip in Mexico to building his parents' church in South Texas, Samuel Palomares has seen the thread drawing him to Abilene.
Numerous threads, actually. Purple, emblazoned with an interlocking logo of three white letters: ACU.
"At every major moment in my life, there have been ACU people helping us along the way, praying for us," Samuel said.
It started during his freshman year of high school, when Samuel, living in the South Texas town of Elsa, volunteered to be the interpreter for a mission trip to Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, sponsored by the Austin-based Westover Hills Church of Christ.
There, in the heart of another country, many of his peers wore ACU shirts. Samuel had never heard of the school before.
"I saw this passion to serve God in what they did," he said. "I was just blown away. So one of the first things I associated with ACU was service."
I saw this passion to serve God in what they did. I was just blown away. So one of the first things I associated with ACU was service.
Two years later, Samuel's father, a pulpit minister, began a new church, quickly outgrowing the family’s modest home. Family friend Craig Cooper (’74) helped the family contact youth groups across Texas and Oklahoma, and over the course of the summer hundreds of high-school students helped build the church - many of them again wearing the purple-and-white threads of ACU.
"This is really cool," Samuel said he recalled thinking. "I want to be part of these kinds of people."
Now, five years later, Samuel - a senior communication studies major with an eye toward graduate school and a possible return to the Hill as a faculty member - has fully joined the fabric of the ACU community. He has been a resident assistant in Mabee Hall and a Kadesh camp counselor, and he led a Spring Break Campaign to Corpus Christi.
But more than simply being a part of ACU, Samuel Palomares has become one of its leaders, winning election in the spring as Students’ Association executive president.
"I love this place," he said. "I really do."
'I've discovered who I am'
Deciding to attend ACU was one thing. Actually getting there, however, was quite another.
Samuel visited the campus and came away "impressed just by the people here. I saw the genuineness in the people. They went the extra mile to make me feel welcome."
But two other schools were offering Samuel full-ride scholarships, and his father’s salary as a preacher wasn’t enough for ACU tuition.
"I kept telling my admissions counselor, 'I need more money,' " Samuel said with a laugh.
In response, the counselor sent him an application for the Lynay service-leadership program, which provides scholarships for students in need through ACU's Exceptional Fund, formerly known as the Annual Fund.
To his surprise, Samuel was accepted into the program and granted a scholarship.
"It was almost the exact amount I needed," he said. "The Lynay scholarship was definitely a big part of my coming here."
Friends and mentors
At ACU, Samuel has not only led and mentored fellow students, he has been led and mentored by the university’s outstanding faculty, including Dr. Jonathan Camp, assistant professor of communication and Dr. Monty Lynn, associate dean of the College of Business Administration.
"He's been a friend and a mentor, just a person I really respect and admire," Samuel said of Lynn, also a professor of management sciences.
With academics well in hand, Samuel also has found places - on campus and off - to grow spiritually, including his active participation at Minter Lane Church of Christ.
"I would never have discovered a lot of things about myself" in another place, he said. "I've discovered who I am and who I want to be."
It's a discovery made possible through the support of ACU’s friends, who provided the funds that made Samuel’s scholarship possible.
"You have changed my life," Samuel said. "I want to be a donor one day because of your sponsorship. I want to help others the way you’ve helped me."
In keeping with that sentiment, Samuel recently made his first gift to ACU, supporting the Royce and Pam Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center, despite the usual monetary constraints students have.
It's a way, he said, to extend to others the threads that pulled him to ACU - to give them the same opportunities he had.
"I don't have much money," he said, "but I believe in the mission. You don’t have to be rich to give back. It's doing what you can and supporting what you're passionate about. Every small gift counts."