Jamie Sampson: Outstanding senior in software engineering

Major: Software Engineering with a minor in Psychology

Hometown: Springfield, Missouri

Clubs and activities: VP of SquirrelHacks, formally known as HackISU;  Student Union Board (SUB)

Awards and honors: Electrical, Computer, Software Engineers in Leadership award; Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis Jr. Achievement award; Honors Program; graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA; keynote address speaker for WiSE’s program Go Further in 2020

Who was your most influential mentor while at Iowa State?

One of my most influential mentors is my advisor Jason Follett. The first time I met him, summer before freshman year, I knew we were going to get along. He helped me fit studying abroad for a semester into my 4-year plan along with my minor in psychology. I always knew who to go to if I had any questions about classes, internships or jobs. We had open and honest conversations and I could rely on him to remind people to answer any questions I had.    

What would you consider your greatest accomplishments at ISU?

My greatest accomplishment at ISU is one of personal value. I had always wanted to travel around the world and learn about different cultures and see the outdoors in ways not possible in the Midwest. I had the opportunity to do this through study abroad trips. I went to London over spring break my freshman year, and studied abroad for a semester in Singapore spring my sophomore year. Those experiences changed my outlook on the world and gave me opportunities to find out who I was and who I wanted to be.

What’s your favorite memory of your time at Iowa State?

My favorite memory would have to be when I was living in Freddy Court, and one of my roommates at the time had a birthday and made a chocolate cake. We wanted to light candles and sing happy birthday to them, but we couldn’t locate birthday candles. Instead, I had the great idea of using toothpicks as candles, so we took toothpicks and stuck them in the cake and lit them with a hand lighter. It was a very fast song, but they functioned, for the most part, as candles. Ever since that year, it has been a running joke between my best friend and me to “light toothpicks” for each other on our birthdays.

What’s your favorite place on campus?

In Marston on the second floor. I love going there and sitting at one of the high-top tables by the window overlooking campus. I’ve spent many hours there doing homework and enjoy being able to look outside – especially when it’s snowing.

What’s your advice for first-year students just starting at Iowa State engineering students?

You’ll hear this a lot, but don’t procrastinate. It’s tempting to push things off because there are so many new things to do when you come to college, but you’ll find that if you don’t procrastinate, you’ll have more time to enjoy those activities with less stress. My second piece of advice is to get to know your professors. They’re human too and like getting to know their students. Finally, find someone new in each of your classes and get to know them. You may make a friend and study buddy.  

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy playing video games; my console choice is Nintendo Switch (Hades, Hollow Knight), and I hope to get a PS5 at the end of the year, if I can find one. I also like reading for fun, leaning more towards sci-fi and fantasy, with my favorite novel being “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern. Another hobby of mine is hiking. I love the outdoors and exploring new places. Pre-COVID, I enjoyed going to concerts.

What’s one lesson you’re taking away from this challenging pandemic year? 

The lesson I’ve taken away from this past year is the importance of family. I came back home last spring break and was able to connect with my younger sister and spend time with my 12-year-old dog, Rex. I made my family part of my new normal, as I’d forgotten how much I enjoy being with them.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I’ll be moving to Austin, Texas, at the end of May to start my new job as a software engineer with Electronic Arts (EA) under their Maxis studio working on The Sims 4.