In 2018, at age 17, Sam lost her 15-year-old brother, Zachary, to suicide just a year after anxiety and depression overwhelmed him. In response, Sam and her parents, Steve and Mannie, started the Z-Cares Foundation to honor Zachary and help alleviate the scourge of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders affecting youth. The foundation’s mission is to encourage meaningful conversations about youth mental health while reducing stigma in our communities and providing critical resources.
“The life that my brother lived helping others empowers me every day to spread the message about how important mental health is,” said Sam. “No one should live with the weight of anxiety and depression. I am proud to help break the stigma around mental health and passionate about doing so.”
Sam was intending to major in kinesiology when she arrived at Whittier College from Amador Valley High School, but her experience with Z-Cares has encouraged her to major in psychology and make improving mental health her life’s work. Upon graduation in May 2023, she intends to take a gap year to continue her research experience within cognitive development psychology before pursuing a masters’ degree and then possibly a PhD.
In addition to her full course load and work with the foundation, the native of Pleasanton, California plays attack on the lacrosse field and is once again expected to be an integral player for the Poets. Following a freshman campaign in which she scored one goal in six games and then the cancellation of the 2021 season, she scored 27 goals last spring and recorded eight assists.
Both her 27 goals and 49 shots on goal were second-best on the team, while her 35 points ranked third.