Nyla Sams keeps raising the bar

Photo of Nyla Sams courtesy: Sams

How you present yourself at college can put you at the forefront of various opportunities that will benefit you in the future. However, while checking all the boxes of someone who excels academically, you must also reflect on who you truly are to the public.

Nyla Sams, a third-year business administration student from Long Island, N.Y., has had no issue proudly presenting her stellar work ethic and drive during her time at Florida A&M University, not only through her education but also through her personal life.

“I have morphed into a woman who is steadfast in her values and equipped with the soft skills to conquer any hill after conquering the Highest of Seven,” Sams said. “You can only find such personal development at an HBCU.”

While Sams’ undergraduate academic journey did not start at FAMU, initially attending a PWI boarding school, she realized post-graduation that a “change of scenery” was needed, and that the Tallahassee HBCU was where she wanted to continue her education and pursue her career goals.

“I arrived at FAMU knowing that I was coming for personal development, and FAMU has not disappointed,” Sams said. “The leadership opportunities and the social environment presents students with situations that will force radical self-reflection and rapid self-growth.”

As a fourth generation student at FAMU, Sams’ family history may have led to her decision on which school to enroll in next, but her bold assertiveness and self-awareness are that of a true Rattler.

These characteristics are evident through the work she has put in on campus and how she extends her caring attitude to others.

Third-year broadcast journalism student Cayla Goff can attest to Sams’ ability to make the people around her better and feel loved. Having known her since the fall semester of 2021, the two’s relationship can best be described by the name they’ve given each other: “guardian angel.”

“Nyla is a dedicated worker. So dedicated to the point she can be hard on herself at times, but she pushes boundaries most people are scared to do,” Goff said. “She’s also someone who is selfless. She and I always call each other our ‘guardian angels’ because we came into each other’s lives when we were both going through hardships, but we helped push each other through.”

Sams has built quite a positive reputation for herself on campus. Involved in numerous extracurriculars, typically related to student government, and a recipient of a series of accolades, Sams has invested a lot of time into her affinity for business and politics.

“I’ve been in SGA since freshman year and have dedicated my college career to the betterment of students’ experiences,” Sams said. “This year, I served as chief of staff, which gave me a first-hand look at the executive branch. I realized a few things that really motivated me to run for president.”

The SAMSxSANDERS presidential and vice-presidential campaign took this year’s spring semester by storm. Sams worked alongside Machía Sanders, a business administration student from Montgomery, Ala., on a campaign that showcased their slogan: “The Leaders Who Bring the Most to the Table.”

Although they lost the race in a run-off, Sams credited her partner for being a “hardworking woman who moves with such integrity and passion.” Sanders also had pleasant comments toward her partner, calling Sams the best partner she’s ever had and “incredibly considerate and detail orientated.”

“During our campaign, I learned a lot from [Nyla] about making do with what you have and never letting negativity have an impact on how you choose to act,” Sanders said. “She had a great tunnel vision [during] our entire campaign on the goal and was persistent until the end. She’s a very hardworking person, and I’m so blessed to not only be her friend but her sister forever.”

The presidential title was not the only goal Sams had her eyes set on.

In January, she contributed to making campus history by being the mastermind behind FAMU’s first independently organized TED Talk event: TEDxFAMU: “Beyond Great Heights.”

“TEDxFAMU was by far the hardest thing I have done, but it’s my proudest,” Sams said. “Between coaching speakers, organizing with my marketing team, leading production, and working with FAMU Foundations for its funding, I had developed a whole new repertoire of skills.”

Several months of planning with a student-led committee, spearheaded by Sams and her co-producer Jaylin Alleyne, resulted in a successful event that will be an ongoing tradition on campus.

“It feels awesome to know I brought the first of something to FAMU,” Sams said. “The feedback I received made me feel like I had done something truly impactful. I remember sitting in the audience, watching the last speaker, and thinking ‘this is my legacy.'”

Taking on a presidential campaign and the TEDx event would be a lot for any student, and Sams admits that she would recommend taking on fewer responsibilities than she did this academic year.

Although she wished she prioritized herself more, she expressed gratitude for her outside resources for helping her along the way, including her faith in God which “tripled” and “shielded her,” and the love from her family.

“It’s been my greatest privilege to be raised in such a household that pushes and nourishes me,” Sams said. “My mom, or momager, is behind every accomplishment or accolade I’ve received. She is the definition of a ‘Momma Bear … My dad is the wisest, most empathetic leader I will ever meet. Being raised by him has been a master class in leadership and being a good human.”

She also thanks her younger brother for “restoring her faith in humanity.”

Nyla Sams is a clear example of what being a Rattler represents, mirroring how she presents herself to the public and in her personal life. Her passion and commitment have carried through her work and relationships with those around her.