My CENTRE Life spotlight: Sam from Indiana
Looking back over the past four years, Sam Yates ’11, one of this year’s My CENTRE Life bloggers, says that he’s not sure if he’d be where he is today if he’d chosen a larger university over Centre College.
Where exactly is Yates today? In September, the dramatic arts and English double major is off to study in Ireland as Centre’s first-ever George J. Mitchell Scholarship recipient.
Named for Senator George Mitchell to honor his work with the Northern Ireland peace talks, the award is presented to up to 12 students per year to study in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. It’s one of the top post-graduate fellowships available to Americans. Yates will study for a year to receive his M. Phil. in theatre and performance.
When Yates was a high school senior exploring his college options, he had his decision narrowed down to two schools. He visited Centre’s campus four times during his senior year before two aspects of the College set it apart from his other choice: the financial aid he received and the friendliness of everyone he met on campus.
“Coming from a small high school, at first Centre’s small size was the antithesis of what I thought I wanted in a college,” Yates says. “Looking back, I’m not sure I would’ve wanted it any other way.” (Note: Yates’ high school graduation class had 25 members!)
Yates says his financial aid package made Centre an affordable option for him and his family. In addition, the “tone of campus” really made an impression during his four campus visits.
“Everyone was smiling and opening doors for you,” he remembers. “After visiting a lot of schools in a row, that sort of things begins to stand out when you don’t see that at the other colleges.”
The friendliness and warmth didn’t change once he became a student, as Yates recalls many dinners and chats at the homes of his professors, discussing a variety of topics.
“That type of care is remarkable,” Yates says. “There’s a sense of gratitude on my part for caring professors that I could never fully express.”
Well known at Centre for his acting, directing and play-writing talents, Yates has played starring roles in Centre productions and has also taught Shakespeare and drama to students in Kentucky public schools and local youth programs.
Not only an actor but a patron of theater, too, Yates spent a CentreTerm and spring term in England, where from January to May, he saw 73 different performances mostly in London and across the English countryside.
Last summer, Yates served as a writer’s assistant and assistant dramaturge for the 2010 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Music Theater and Playwrights Conferences in Connecticut, where he helped research and develop works with playwrights such as Alfred Uhrey, Paul Oakley Stovall, Carrie Barrett and Yaroslava Pulinovich.
In 2008, Yates received the Max P. Cavnes First-Year Book Prize, awarded to the man and the woman with the highest academic average at the end of their first year. He has been named to the Dean’s List of Academic Honors six times, and he is also a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership fraternity.
He’s the chief of design for the Cento student-produced newspaper; senior-at-large and executive-council member on the Student Government Association; a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity; and president of CentrePlayers, the student dramatic arts organization.
Yates is unique among this year’s MCL bloggers in that he’s a returning writer: He was also a member of MCL as a first-year student beginning fall 2007. He wanted to return to blogging his senior year to give readers a look at how his Centre experience has developed.
“My hope is that through MCL, readers can see how comfortable I am with Centre and my time here!” Yates says.