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Seema Samawi '15

February 2014

Seema Samawi

Name & Class Year: Seema Samawi, 2015
Hometown: Manhattan, NY / Damascus, Syria
High School: Foley's Grammar School (9-10); King's Academy (11-12)
Major: Computer Science
Major: Music
Campus Activities: Smith College Varsity Tennis Team, Athletic Association Representative, President of the Athletic Association, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, Tango Dance TA, Student Librarian at Josten Library, Theatre Production Coordination Assistant, Al Iman


Last Movie Seen in Theaters: The Wolf of Wall Street

Favorite Movie: Inception

Favorite Song: Waltz no.10 in B Minor, Chopin

Smith House: Wesley

Last Book Read: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Favorite Book: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from Narnia Chronicles. My mother got me the whole series when I was 6 years old and I read the Dawn Treader 6 times that first month.

Hobbies/Interests: Tennis, basketball, swimming, weightlifting, running, Brazilian jiu jitsu, tango, hip hop, salsa rueda, ballet, piano, singing, guitar, drums, crochet, making jewelry, photography, modeling, personal health, cooking and baking, video games, drinking tea, parkour, personal training and helping friends with fitness, board games

Favorite Place on Campus: Ainsworth Gym and Sage Hall Piano Practice Room 208

Favorite Campus Dining Location Tyler/Cutter/Ziskind

Fondest Smith Memory So Far: I remember when orientation groups were being sent out my senior year of high school and I struggled to find something I was really passionate about until I read about contacting athletic coaches. At that point I emailed Christine Davis and asked about trying out. I remember spending the entire summer in the gym and on the tennis court working hard to prepare myself for college athletics. When I finally arrived after travelling over 30 hours, I spent next 10 days in preseason for tennis. I was exhausted by the end of it but when the team roster went out and my name was on it, I was so happy. It was the earliest memory of Smith I have and to this day is the highlight of my Smith experience so far.

Where did you grow up and what was life like there?
I was born in NYC and I don't remember much, but I used to love going to Central Park and FAO Schwartz. When I turned 8 my family moved to Limassol, Cyprus. Living on an island was really different for me, especially since the main language was Greek, so I attended the American Academy (a British Private School), and I later transferred to Foley's Grammar School. It was really difficult to change from the American system to the British system as well as from public to private school--the concept of a uniform baffled me. I also didn't fit in; I was the awkward Syrian American girl with the really big curly hair. So I devoted my energy to my piano, athletics, and academics.

I lived in Cyprus through the completion of my O-levels. During my 2 years of International General Certificate of Secondary Education exams (or IGCSEs) my father was living part-time in Aleppo and then Damascus for his job. During that time we lived with our grandmother due to my parents' divorce. After my IGCSEs we moved to Syria to a suburban village called Yaa'four which is in Damascus. Schooling was an issue, as there were no good private schools in Syria at that time. I attended boarding school in Jordan at King's Academy with my brother--I entered 11th grade and he went into 9th grade. I struggled to adapt back to the American System from the British System. The hardest part was living away from my family. When I graduated and the war in Syria was getting bad, my dad lost his job and I came to Smith. My family took refuge in Jordan, and we lived the first year without our belongings because it was too dangerous to go back. I consider myself lucky because due to all the moving around I was able to learn 3 languages fluently and 2 more semi-fluently, as well as travel. I gained a lot of open-mindedness and great cultural insight which really helped contribute to me growing as a person.

How did you discover Smith?
When college applications came around and I was working on my list, my college counselor pulled me into her office one day and said, "What about Smith?" My immediate reaction was "no way!" given the fact that almost all my friends growing up were male, but then I looked at the bigger picture. There were so many opportunities available and great women to meet, not to mention the excellent education and small class sizes. When my dad further suggested it, by recalling his fond memories of visiting his friends who attended Smith from his college days, I decided to apply Early Decision, and got accepted.

What were your first impressions of the College? Do you find they're still true today?
The very first thing I thought was "Wow, this college is beautiful, and everyone is so smart". To this day it is true. I found that I had to get re-acclimated to the American culture which I was not previously exposed to. I've made some wonderful friends at each of the four other colleges in the area. I feel that Smith offers a truly liberal and outstanding education with top professors who are passionate about their fields.

What Smith professors, coaches or advisors have inspired you?
Conor Hanick was my piano professor for my first two years at Smith. I was honored to be his pupil for two years. Smith can be very stressful and that one hour a week with him and the piano and Beethoven or Schubert was the highlight of my week. Conor thought outside of the box, he found the most interesting similes and metaphors which really forced me as a student to expand my mind to the limitless possibilities, and had it not been for him I probably would not have realized that biology and pre-med were not the path for me.

Christine Davis is the Smith Varsity Tennis coach, and she is very inspiring to me because she always believes in her team no matter what. Even when things get tough she supports us and helps us overcome our difficulties with grace, poise and good sportsmanship, which are very honorable traits to have. The most impressive thing about her for me was rain or shine, she was always there dedicated to making us the best team we could be and didn't let anything get in our way.

What are your plans after Smith?
As a computer science major, I have a lot of options. Right now I am still figuring things out but my current ideas are going for an MBA, getting a master's degree in Financial Modeling, or finding a field that will combine my passion for music with my passion for technology. I am also looking into Systems Analysis.

What perspective would you share with alumnae?
I was struck by highly special circumstances with the war in Syria when I was about to attend college. My family was really down on luck and I would not be able to attend Smith College without the generous financial aid package that I have. Because of alumnae who have helped I am able to get an excellent education, and one day I hope to be able to give back. Every gift no matter how big or small really helps. When you help everyone wins, and students like me and many other wonderful Smithies get the chance of a lifetime. I really cannot imagine myself attending a different college.