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Making diversity and inclusion a part of Augustana’s identity

Meet Samuel Payan, new Director of Multicultural Student Life. Mr. Payan, a person of many surprising interests, is planning to make Augustana College a place where everyone’s voice and opinion matter.

Samuel Payan is from Melrose Park, IL. 40 years ago his family immigrated to the United States from Durango, Mexico, looking for opportunities to improve their economic situation. Years passed, Mr. Payan grew up and soon he found himself in the Quad Cities attending Augustana College majoring in Psychology and Sociology. After his graduation fate took him all the way to Indiana there he obtained his Master of Education degree in School Psychology from Valparaiso University.

In Valparaiso University Mr. Payan got a chance to work in the Office of Multicultural Programs where he started as Program Coordinator at first and later he was promoted to the position of Assistant Director.

“During my time in Valparaiso University I learned immensely and discovered that this line of work is my life’s work,” Mr. Payan shared. “What solidified this for me is the level of discrimination a person of color has to endure on a daily basis.”

More than anything Mr. Payan explained that he is very passionate about educating young people of color about the obstacles many might face during their student years and in their professional life. His goal is to give these young people necessary information and tools to deal with hardships and reach success in their personal and professional lives. This same goal, among many others, Mr. Payan is planning to achieve at his new position in Augustana College.

“With that in mind, serving in a highly influential position such as the Director at Augustana College, has always been a dream of mine. I am really excited to be back at my alma mater and work with wonderful teammates on creating Augustana College a more welcoming and inclusive campus,” Mr. Payan shared a little of his excitement for the big task ahead of him.

Mr. Payan is planning to change the way this school views diversity and inclusion.

“This is what motivates me the most because the immense opportunities that the college has for growth on making the campus more welcoming and inclusive to all identities,” Mr. Payan said.

He believes that due to changing demographics colleges also need to be ready and willing to change some of their own policies and practices. According to Mr. Payan Augustana College is ready for change and the school will be able to overcome any challenges that might lie ahead.

And while Augustana College is looking to be even more involved in the community, of course it’s very beneficial that Mr. Payan has that special connection with the Quad Cities that this position requires.

With all this important and serious aspiration and dreams the Mr. Payan has, it does not mean that he doesn’t have moments then he just “let’s his hair down.” In fact, Mr. Payan has a surprising hobby. He plays saxophone, keyboard and even sings. In fact, when he was younger he used to play in a Durangense music band called Los Apaches de la Sierra, with his three brothers.

“I would like to start a new band, but for now my brothers and I only play for friends and family. We are open for business though,” Mr. Payan shares with a smile.

When he does not play his sax or sings with his brothers, Mr. Payan enjoys playing basketball, researching and spending time with his fiancée Selene Giron, who is also a graduate of Augustana College.

Mr. Payan is a man with experience and vision. His vision is to make Augustana College a place where diversity and inclusion are part of the school’s identity. It is a difficult task, but Mr. Payan is up for it.

Photos by Tar Macias

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