Political science student, Sam Stoltz, has been selected as the College of Liberal Arts Spring 2023 student commencement speaker. Stoltz will be graduating on Saturday with a double major in Political Science (Global Politics concentration) and International Studies (Middle East North Africa concentration). “I chose these programs because I’m really interested in the extensive history and unique cultures of the SWANA region, and want to use my privilege to fight negative stereotypes about the region. As a part of the program, I’ve taken three years of Arabic, which has been one of my favorite parts of my major,” says Stoltz. 

Sam Stoltz in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan

Though Stoltz leaves CSU with a clear vision for his future, his path to finding a concentration which resonated with his personal mission, values, and passions was not always a straight line. Stoltz enrolled at CSU as a first-year student, majoring in Biomedical Sciences with the goal of becoming a researcher studying the genetic links to cancer. After only two weeks into his first semester, he realized STEM was no longer the career path he wanted to pursue. He desired a more people-centric career—changing his major to political science. During this time of transition, Stoltz recalls feeling lost and relying on his professors and friends for support—because they understood that he was “more than just a major.” 

“After taking Dr. Peter Harris’ international relations course, I decided that I wanted to go into foreign policy and added my international studies major. Over the next three years, I grew in ways I didn’t even know were possible—and grew into myself, too!” 

Stoltz worked as ASCSU’s Director of University Affairs as a first-year student, and then as an Admissions Ambassador giving tours of CSU during his sophomore, junior, and senior years. He served as a student associate at the Center for Public Deliberation (CPD) for three semesters—facilitating important conversations on aging and social isolation, the Fort Collins City Budget, and ways to make policing more equitable. During his final semester at CSU, he worked as a Human Rights Research Assistant at the Human Rights Research Academy under Dr. Todd. 

Stoltz had the opportunity to study abroad twice—spending five months in Amman, Jordan and three months in Rabat, Morocco. He was the co-founder and president of the Arabic Culture and Language Club this academic year—which held 38 events including Arabic movie nights, hosting Syrian-American spoken work poet Amal Kassir, and a Middle Eastern foods picnic giving students the opportunity to try foods such as Kanafa, Maqluba, and Dolma. He has also volunteered as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line over the past four years, supporting people of all ages several nights a week. Stoltz adds, “I’ve helped over 300 people, and have volunteered over 500 hours!”   

While at CSU, he interned at the Weld Food Bank, for Governor Jared Polis, and at the State Legislature for Assistant Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez. “Each of these experiences taught me the importance of centering people’s experiences in everything that I do, whether that’s fighting food insecurity or addressing constituent concerns on bills working their way through the legislature,” says Stoltz. 

Following graduation, Stoltz will be joining the Peace Corps—heading to Morocco as part of a youth development program providing after-school programming and mentorship to middle school and high school students. He recalls his favorite memory at CSU being the week-long celebration with friends following his acceptance into the Peace Corps. “Being able to celebrate with so many people who had supported me for years and were the reason I accomplished everything I did was incredible—and I was overwhelmed by how much support I was lucky enough to have! I’ve framed the photo of my friends and I celebrating at Lucky Joe’s, and I am taking it with me to Morocco,” says Stoltz.

Stoltz leaves CSU with confidence in his chosen career path and a sense of pride for all he has accomplished—which he credits to the incredible support he received from the CSU community.