Sam Sites on foundations, scholarship, & curiousity

Sam Sites on foundations, scholarship, & curiousity

Edited by Paige Murrell | 10.25.2019

This post was originally shared in our quarterly publication The Tutor.  

Sam Sites currently works as an admissions coordinator at a study-abroad organization in Washington, D.C.  There, he talks with pre-med students about shadowing doctors in European hospitals. 

When did you realize how much influence education had on your life?

I think I’m still realizing that even now. Education has so far consumed the longest part of my life, so I’ll probably still continue to realize its impact. Chronologically, I think the schools a person attends influences what they believe is their “pursuit of happiness.” Beyond that, I think having the tools to learn something new is most helpful for life. For example, workers nowadays move from job to job and don’t stay with one company for their entire career. Because of that, it’s important to be comfortable in transition and new environments. I know Classical Christian education helps with that by making students thinkers instead of memorizers.

How does classical Christian education help you feel prepared to be a scholar and disciple?

Scholarship is about asking questions and pursuing truth. I think Classical Christian education instills intellectual curiosity and reassurance that truth exists.

The word “disciple” comes from the Latin disciplina, which means training or instruction. There’s an interesting correlation, then, between following Jesus and training yourself or instructing yourself in his ways. I think this education prepared me to instruct myself in God’s truth while encouraging me to serve to the best of my ability in any circumstance.

Finally, this education showed I didn’t need all the answers, but that I could find them. And when there are no immediate answers to be found, I could trust God. While I don’t always remember that, it has been helpful.

How did Coram Deo help you as a scholar?

Coram Deo Academy taught me to take personal responsibility for my education and instilled intellectual curiosity in me. All CDA students wrestle through primary sources so that they may participate in any conversation as well as the “Great Conversation”. Curiosity and the ability to converse with any person is extremely important, especially as universities seem to stifle intellectual curiosity and civil discourse.

How did Coram Deo help you as a disciple of Jesus?

I learned, sang, thought, and spoke about being before the face of God (coram deo) and giving God the glory. Sometimes I didn’t appreciate the rules. However, as someone who has been out of high school for 9 years now, I’m very grateful for the ways we were taught to look to the interests of others before ourselves (Philippians 2:1-11).

It seems like each year God teaches me more about how good He truly is and that trusting in Him is actually the best way to live a “successful” life. I’ve had to trust God more as a 27-year-old than when I was in high school. And as a 27-year-old, I still remember singing and saying things like “Not to us O Lord, but to your name give glory (Psalm 115:1).”

I still smile when thinking about winter and spring concerts. And I still am grateful that God is faithful to finish the work he starts in every person (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). I don’t just know the truth of Jesus’s matchless worth, but I actually believe it.

 What stands out about the relationships you developed at Coram Deo? Do you still have connections at the school?

One thing that always stood out is how much students connected with their teachers and learned to appreciate them. I stay in touch with some of my teachers through Facebook or random conversations, and I still keep in touch with most of my classmates — which is pretty easy since two of them are my brother and sister!

The relationships I developed at Coram Deo were genuine ones that helped me become a better person. When I look back on them, I see that my classmates and teachers inspired me to succeed. There was freedom to be myself along with an understanding that God is good throughout our studies, careers, and personal lives.

There was also an expectation of working hard, unlike some places where it’s cool to pretend you don’t enjoy learning. As Sylvester Stallone said in Rocky, “You hang out with nice people, you get nice friends, y’understand? You hang out with smart peo- ple, you get smart friends. You hang out with yo-yo people, you get yo-yo friends! Y’see, it’s simple mathematics.”

In your experience, what has been the biggest pitfall of your educational background? Biggest advantage?

Biggest pitfall — I think you could enter your first year of college and be surprised when students from non-classical backgrounds perform just as well as you on projects or exams. Sometimes being a part of the great conversation or really engaging the materials doesn’t always translate into finishing the assignment quickest or achieving the best GPA. Sometimes.

Biggest advantage — I think Classical Christian education prepares you to interact well in any conversation with any person. It instills intellectual curiosity and, hopefully, the humility to listen to others and learn from them. I think a student with this background is better prepared to take ownership of their education and themselves while also having a desire to help others.

I don’t necessarily see Classical Christian education as the only background to have, and plenty of my undergraduate or law school peers were wonderful people from different backgrounds. However, I remain grateful for all I’ve gained from a Classical Christian education and think it prepared me well for life.

What legacy do you hope to leave with your life?

A legacy might seem antithetical to all the statements of Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory. Nevertheless, I want my life to point others to Jesus. Because of Jesus’s work on the cross, we are able to be face to face with God. And although I currently see in a mirror dimly, I will one day see God face to face – coram deo.  I think I have many skills and will be able to help others succeed in various ways, but I hope that I can help other people believe God and show Jesus’s love through service.

I think I will run for some elected office – Governor of Indiana or Federal Senate. Senator Sites has a nice ring to it, haha. But I don’t want to run for recognition or notoriety. I truly think I am able to listen to anyone and help everyone have a better life to the extent that such a thing is possible in a democratic republic. I also hope to work in Europe for a little while, have a family, publish a book, compose music, etc…

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