Samantha Bradley hasn’t taken the most direct path to where she is now, but it is a part of who she is and, largely, where she is going.
Bradley, who is in her final semester at UMaine, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia at a young age and struggled early academically. She was placed in special education classes, where she ended up helping her classmates understand some of the more difficult concepts.
“When I graduated from the learning center, I was really heartbroken because I really enjoyed helping the kids with the same issues that I have,” she said. “I felt like I was making a difference.”
Instead of letting her difficulties at a young age define her, she made the best of it and out of it came her life’s passion.
“In learning center when I was teaching my classmates, I realized, ‘this is what I want to do.’”
When Bradley was young, she felt pressured, like many of us do, to pick a career and have an idea of what she wanted to do from a young age. Although she realized what she wanted early, the idea still irked her.
“Even when you’re young, they ask you ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Like, you’re asking a four-year-old what they want to be when they grow up,” Bradley said. “I feel like this question of what you’re going to do for your life are always on your shoulders.”
Bradley felt expectations were high in high school, when many of her classmates were pursuing degrees at schools such as Harvard and Yale. She took a different route when she fell in love with UMaine on an impromptu visit with her mom.
Her first two years at school were another challenge for her, as she had a boyfriend back in Boston that kept her from spreading her wings socially. When they broke up the summer after freshman year, it left her in a difficult place.
“Sophomore year I didn’t have any friends,” she said. “Freshman year I kind of secluded myself because I had a boyfriend in Boston.”
A year after the breakup, Bradley knew that it was time to try something new, so when she decided against transferring, she joined a sorority.
“I said, ‘if I make friends out of it, I make friends out of it. I want to see how it goes,” she said.
As is the luck of Samantha Bradley, joining the sorority of her dreams didn’t take the path she would have preferred. She was not initially selected to join the sorority that she had set her sights on, instead being invited to join Phi Mu. Devastated, she decided to make the best of it.
“I decided to stick it out and it became the sorority I’m in now and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said.
She certainly did not realize when she was stuck in that relationship freshman year how much it was holding her back.
“I did not realize I was the person I am now when I broke up with him,” Bradley said. “Now, I’m just my own person and I’m doing my own thing.”
Now in her last semester at UMaine, Bradley is looking ahead toward what looks like an adventurous future.
“I want to travel,” she said of her plans before attending graduate school. “I’ve always had an obsession with Australia and New Zealand. I’ve always daydreamed about travelling everywhere.”
While her future, much like her past, may not take the path she envisions, her positive attitude and perseverance will get her where she wants to go.