Name: Sam Stites
Hometown: Washington, DC
University: Vassar College ‘12
Major: Mathematics & Physics
What led you to apply for Venture for America?
A while back, an old friend and I were catching up over food – eventually the conversation took a turn to “plans after college.” He mentioned Venture for America, and we started talking about working in start ups and what that would entail. At the time, I hadn’t thought much about entrepreneurship and I thought, “could be interesting… maybe not my thing.” But a seed was planted. So when I heard that Andrew Yang was making a presentation of the Venture for America Mission at Vassar, I knew that I had to be sure this wasn’t an opportunity I was going to regret missing out on. In his talk, I realized that the picture he painted of someone who pursues entrepreneurship was the image of someone I aspire to be. This person is a problem-solver, makes a positive impact on those around him, and is not afraid take a risk to help others.
What were you doing when you found out you were accepted?
It’s all kind of a haze. I was looking into kickstarters and indiegogo projects when a little notification popped up at the bottom right of my screen. I was frozen for something like five minutes, and afterwards bounced around the house and told everyone I ran in to!
Now that you’re a fellow, what are you most excited about with regard to VFA? What do you hope to accomplish?
I’m excited to meet inspiring people and to embark on a great learning experience.
If you had to live one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
Having grown up overseas, I’ve lived in a lot of cool cities. However, what I find most important, and the determining factor of where I would want live, is to have a good group of friends nearby.
Best thing about Vassar: It’s a tight-knit community with a crazy amount of diverse interests, which always leads to good conversations.
Favorite Book: The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff
Favorite childhood TV show: “Transformers: Beast Wars”
Favorite meal: Anything I can get my hands on.
Favorite holiday: Christmas, when my family gets together from their distant corners of the globe.
Best class you’ve ever taken: Topics in Geometry.
Favorite movie quote: “Many of these trees were my friends. Creatures I had known from nut or acorn. [...] Hroom, hm, come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.” – Treebeard, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Favorite thing to do on Sunday: Practice some juggling patterns and work on handstands.
Favorite entrepreneur: My Uncle, Luca Lee
Favorite cereal: Cinnamon Chex, “Chex; Anyway you Want It!”
Most worn article of clothing: My longboarding shoes have holes and holes and holes. I can’t wear them on rainy days.
Favorite sports team: Clube de Regatas do Flamengo (A soccer team from Rio de Janeiro)
Best trip you’ve ever been on: A biological research summer program in the Jiuzhaigou Valley. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Hero” with Jet Li, Jiuzhaigou was where that movie was shot!
Favorite historical figure: Charles Kettering
Accomplishment you’re most proud of: It’s a little dated, but my Eagle Scout Project was one of my most rewarding experiences. It addressed the decline of English Standards in public schools across Hong Kong, and was something that I pushed to get done in my sophomore year of high school.