Augustana hires new director of multicultural and international student life

Augustana has recently welcomed back Samuel Payan, an alumnus from the Class of 2010, to take on the role of Director of Multicultural and International Student Life.
Payan will serve as a someone who is available for any students who need an advocate, a connection to other resources, or simply, a person to have a conversation with.
“I just want to encourage anyone and everyone to come by and just have a conversation,” Payan said.
Payan said his number one priority is being an advocate for students, aiding them with issues from crisis management to career assistance. He also plans to focus on student-retention, by encouraging and improving the college experience for anyone who is struggling and considering leaving Augustana.
Payan will also have other responsibilities within his new position, such as advising President Steven Bahls on issues involving diversity and inclusion, sitting on various committees who focus on creating response teams and encouraging diversity both among the students and faculty at Augustana.
Payan’s experiences from being a Latino student on a predominately white campus put him in a position where he is able to empathize with those who go through more than just the “average” amount of culture shock when they enter college.
“That inspires me to be in a position where I can have decision-making power to make changes,” Payan said. “At least I am here to advocate for them and understand them.”
Payan grew up in a primarily Latino community outside of Chicago.
“English is my second language. I learned how to speak it in fourth grade,” Payan said. “Growing up there and having to do that has had a big influence on how I see the world today.”
Payan was told by a faculty member at his high school that he should attend college as a first-generation student. He took this advice and pursued a bachelor’s degree at Augustana. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, with an emphasis in social welfare.  
Payan went on to work in an immigrant rights and advocacy center in the Quad Cities. He then attended Valparaiso University in Indiana, where he pursued a degree in school psychology. While at Valpo, he served as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, allowing him to work closely with struggling students.
Valparaiso offered Payan a job as Program Coordinator in their Office of Multicultural Programs as a result of seeing how well he interacted with students on campus. The director told Payan, “I see how you work with the students and your passion for this.”
After taking that position at Valpo and switching career paths, Payan has not looked back. He is excited to continue his work with college students at his alma mater.
“It’s good to be back,” Payan said.
Payan’s office is located on the fourth floor of the Gerber Center, behind the Brew. Payan hopes many students will reach out to him by stopping by his office or contacting him via email at [email protected].