Samantha Lee

Samantha Lee
Photo by David Schmitz

Dean’s Scholar

Major: Business Admin/Human Resources
Lucas College and Graduate School of Business

Why did you choose your major?

While working as a Human Resources Coordinator, I noticed that employee turnover was fairly high and I wanted to improve retention to reduce costs and enhance morale at my dad’s company; this sparked my interest and passion for Human Resources. In an effort to minimize cost to his small business, my dad did not offer many benefits such as health benefits. I, however, believed that investing in the right benefits could actually reduce expenses brought on by turnover, such as recruiting and training costs. I took it upon myself to distribute a simple survey asking what type of health benefits employees would like if the company were to offer any. The surprising response was that all employees, including my dad, wanted some sort of benefits package. Thus, began my research to find an affordable health benefits company that was focused on administering benefits packages for small businesses. It was a rewarding experience to have been the voice of employees and to see it pay off in form of increased productivity and retention. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about motivating employees and helping them be successful at their jobs.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

During my time at SJSU, I worked hard to achieve academic success while being involved with campus organizations, and giving back to the community. This award will be a reminder that if I set my mind to accomplish something, I can do it. Ever since I found my passion for Human Resources, my focus has been to do well in school and help others develop professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of others. Receiving this award will be a constant reminder for me to continue helping others in their personal and professional development.

Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life?  In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

My mom has had the greatest influence on my life. Growing up, she showed me that nothing is impossible. She always worked hard for everything she has without the help of others. At the same time, she is the kindest and most generous person I know. Without her constant support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be graduating with this honorable award.

Dr. Stan Malos was one of the first professors I got to work with at SJSU. His assignments challenged me to think beyond the classroom and ask myself how I would apply and implement concepts in a business setting. I also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Malos on the Lucas College of Business Dean Search Committee where he would solicit and integrate my input with the entire committee, helping me become more comfortable sharing my thoughts and interacting with other staff and faculty. Over the last two years, Dr. Malos has taught me to apply my skills and knowledge in HR to business cases in a strategic manner that enhance outcomes and support long-term objectives. His support and encouragement push me to do the best I can inside and outside of the classroom.

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

The decision to take on a leadership role in my student organization, the Society for Human Resources Management, has given me many opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone. Instead of only being concerned with my classwork, I was challenged to manage a team of eight officers and support 100 members in their professional development through workshops, networking, and other professional events. Being both the Executive Vice President and President of SHRM@SJSU allowed me to help others develop their professional business skills and interests. Organizing the HR graduation in spring 2016 was an exciting experience that enabled me to use my experience in event planning and provided an opportunity to become comfortable in public speaking when I addressed an audience of 400+ graduates, faculty, family, and friends. Being a student leader exposed me to opportunities I would have never been considered for such as being the student representative on the Lucas College of Business Dean Search Committee. All these experiences have further affirmed my passion for Human Resources and my love for being able to influence and motivate others.

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

Find something you are passionate about and it will be the engine to your success. I was not the best student when I first entered college, but after a five-year hiatus and finding my passion, I was determined to succeed. My passion for Human Resources pushes me to go beyond my comfort zone to seek help from others. I utilized every avenue available to help me understand the material I was learning and it made my life much easier.

What makes you a Spartan?

SJSU is a community of like-minded students, staff, and faculty who want to help each other succeed. As an international student, my first semester was challenging, but many students and professors were there to help me. Understanding the challenges I faced, I wanted to find ways to help others like myself. Joining SHRM@SJSU as a leader gave me an avenue to help others develop a network of resources and help them succeed. I will forever be grateful of the opportunities I had at SJSU.


Nominated by Stan Malos
Professor, School of Management

“Samantha has been an excellent student in both Bus 157 and 159 as well as a capable and industrious member of the Dean Search Committee through which she offered numerous insights and suggestions. She is also active in SHRM at SJSU and a contributor in numerous other pursuits on and off campus.”