By Richard Burnett
Out of the angst and struggle of her younger years, Samantha Diamond has emerged as a confident professional who knows who she is, where she’s going, and what she wants to do in life.
To be sure, the path has not been an easy one. As a child, she was diagnosed with autism, ADHD and general anxiety disorder. Bullied in high school, she withdrew from others, felt alone and isolated. At Beacon College, however, life gradually came together for her.
“I realized that having learning difficulties doesn’t define who I am,” said Diamond, 24, who graduated summa cum laude in 2021 with a bachelor’s in human services. “Even if you have these learning challenges, you can still work your way up and figure out what to do in life.”
Today, the Massachusetts native is working as a full-time assistant for a primary care physician clinic in suburban Boston while attending graduate school at Lesley University in Cambridge. She is studying clinical mental health counseling, with a specialty in dance movement therapy.
“I’ve been dancing since I was four years old and I just love it,” she said. “It’s a beautiful art form in which people can be free to express themselves and focus on the positive. Now, I want to bring dance movement therapy to people in need, especially those with learning challenges, to help everyone feel great about themselves.”
‘Always helping out fellow students’
Dancing and helping others played a key role Diamond’s life at Beacon — especially after the early days of freshmen jitters (“I was really shy and didn’t know anybody,” she recalled. “Walking on campus was like walking in a ghost town.”)
Soon, however, she discovered the Performance Club for talented students in the arts. There, she blossomed with a tribe of new friends. By the end of the year, she was elected club president. Later, Diamond was a part-time peer leader and full-time orientation leader, helping new students adjust and transition to college life. Meanwhile, her GPA soared.
Dr. A.J. Marsden, associate professor of human services and psychology, recalled Diamond’s strong will to understand, excel, and ask insightful questions that would inspire her peers.
“She cared deeply about those around her and was always willing to help her fellow students out,” Marsden said. “She consistently ranked high in peer ratings whenever she worked on a team. I always really admired her desire to learn and turn in her best work. If she didn’t understand, she pursued the idea until she did.”
Dr. Nicki Nance, associate professor of psychology and human services, remembered Diamond as a diligent, conscientious student who made a difference in the lives of others during her time at Beacon. “She never shied away from trying something new,” Nance said. “She was active in the campus community and was always pleasant to be around.”
‘They’ve always had my back’
Diamond always has gravitated to jobs that involve helping people. Out of high school, she worked as a special-needs aide for the Charles River Center in Needham, Massachusetts, a day-time program for people with disabilities. At Beacon, she worked as an intern for the Christian Care Center’s Benevolence Center in Leesburg, which provides food, clothing and other services to the needy.
Now, Diamond hopes to help even more people by taking her career to the next level.
“My goal is to try my hardest and be successful in graduate school,” she said. “But it’s not easy, that’s for sure. I’m just taking it one step at a time and focusing on what I need to get done.”
In looking back at her life, Diamond is encouraged about how far she’s come.
“In addition to what I’ve done in school, I’m most proud of figuring out who I am as a person and making my family proud of me for my successes,” she said. “I’ve always felt the love and support from my family. Even though I have gone through so much, they’ve always had my back.”