Samantha Overton ’20 vividly remembers the first time she set foot in a Le Moyne College classroom. It was during her senior year of high school, and she sat in on an English course led by Ann Ryan ’85, Ph.D. Overton listened intently as a lively discussion erupted on that day’s reading. The students, just a year or two older than she was, dissected everything in the text, symbolism, imagery, foreshadowing. Overton was enthralled. But it was more than that. She felt as though she was part of the class – that she belonged.
“In that moment, I knew Le Moyne was the right place for me,” she said. “And I haven’t looked back since.”
Overton went on to major in theatre arts and minor in creative writing at the College. Over the course of four years, she made friends she’ll treasure for the rest of her life, learned from faculty members who challenged and inspired her, and discovered how to solve problems independently. That was just part of her Le Moyne education, though. Overton also learned to speak out for what she believes in, that her views and opinions matter and should be heard, and that she could face life’s challenges with confidence. Each of these experiences was “wonderful and rewarding and crazy” in its own way.
Now that Overton is Le Moyne alumna, she looks forward to using that voice she so carefully developed – on stage. She has always been passionate about the performing arts. In fact, some of her fondest memories at Le Moyne were forged in the College’s W. Carroll Coyne Center for the Performing Arts, where she appeared in productions like Boeing Boeing! However, the current global pandemic has made even clearer to her the critical role art plays in building and shaping community, bringing people from divergent backgrounds together to share a common experience. She has been moved by how resourceful people around the world have been in creating art and in sharing it digitally while practicing social distancing. She knows that when it becomes safe for people to come together in public again, there will be even more for artists and creators to do.
Overton recognizes that the world looks much different for today’s high school seniors than it did for her when she was preparing to begin college just four years ago. However, she hopes that the future members of the Class of 2024 still have the opportunity to connect with Le Moyne the way that she did in Dr. Ryan’s classroom. They will just be doing it virtually. There are faculty members and students who are eager to connect with them, and to share the stories of their Le Moyne over Zoom and FaceTime. And of course, Overton recognizes that while “visiting” Le Moyne might look a little different for now, the purpose of a Le Moyne education, to grow academically and socially, remains unchanged.
“College is a time to learn as much as you can about yourself and the world around you,” she said. “I would not be anywhere close to who I am today if I had not gone to Le Moyne and met the people I did.”