Forward, Together Forward: Samantha Garbacz demonstrates leadership

Samantha Garbacz volunteers in a small village in Belize, providing free blood pressure checks and glucose checks as well as giving information to people without access to health care on how they can live healthy lives.
Samantha Garbacz volunteers in a small village in Belize, providing free blood pressure checks and glucose checks as well as giving information to people without access to health care on how they can live healthy lives.

Samantha Garbacz is a leader.

Whether in class, in campus organizations, working a part-time job or volunteering, she has proven to be a leader at NIU.

“Samantha won the NIU Leadership Award during her freshmen, sophomore, and junior year,” said Missy Lugo, NIU student success specialist. “This award recognizes student’s initiative, outstanding involvement, how they have contributed to the quality of life on NIU’s campus, and significantly enhanced NIU’s campus environment through their demonstrated leadership abilities and personal growth.”

The senior from Westchester, Ill., maintains a 3.53 cumulative grade point average in nursing.

In 2012, Garbacz joined Alpha Psi Lambda, a co-ed Latino social and service fraternity, and soon after began to hold leadership positions there.

“I have seen her balance multiple positions including mentorship,” Lugo said. “Samantha also was actively involved in raising grade point average requirements for membership to not only increase the organization’s level of excellence, but also increase the excellence of individual Latinos’ education.”

In addition, while on campus she has been involved in the American Red Cross blood drive, the Feed My Starving Children organization, Feed‘em Soup, Rake Across DeKalb, the Salvation Army, the CROP Hunger Walk and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Volunteerism is something she was exposed to early on; after her father died while she was in high school, it became even more important.

“All of my life my parents have taught me the importance of family and community,” Garbacz said. “After my dad passed away, I realized the role he played in the community and how I wanted to do the same thing.”

Lynette Swedberg, NIU clinical nursing instructor, said Garbacz’s compassion and strength will allow her to excel in her chosen profession.

“Samantha will be an excellent nurse,” Swedberg said.“She is compassionate, professional and able to access both her compassion and critical-thinking skills. She is able to reflect on her experiences and use them for personal and professional growth.”

Lugo shared the sentiment, adding that Garbacz “embodies the mission and vision of NIU.”

“Samantha continues to look for other leadership opportunities, not only within her organization,” Lugo said. “She supports the DeKalb community and at the state level, she advocated for nurses. She is a great example of a Huskie and a future proud alum of NIU.”

by Jane Donahue

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