When Sami Jo (Samantha) Frank heard that she was the Grand-Prize winner of CSI’s Got Talent, she couldn’t believe it was real. “It was like an out-of-body experience. I felt amazing, but I was really in a state of shock,” said the College of Staten Island (CSI) senior.
When the news had settled, Samantha realized that she had an opportunity to share her experiences as a CSI student with a disability as she celebrated her amazing accomplishment. Samantha was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at a young age and continues to struggle with learning, focus, organization, and anxiety.
“Having a disability like ADD makes it harder to achieve my academic and creative goals, but I stay positive and do not listen to negative critiques. I’ve encountered people who say if you have ADD, you can’t be smart and you will not be successful, but this is just not true. You can be a doctor, a dancer, or anything you want to be in life,” Samantha commented, adding that she believes it is necessary to let people know that she is a successful person who does have a disability.
“I think its important that I get the message out there because it shows that no matter what obstacles you encounter, you can be a leader in your own way,” said the student, who sang the Star Spangled Banner at this year’s Honor’s Convocation.
Samantha attributes much of her academic success to the Center for Student Accessibility (CSA) where she receives services and accommodations such as academic counseling and a distraction-limited testing environment.
“The Center has helped me to stay responsible and calm. Staff there have given me the confidence to not be afraid, to let my professors know about my disability, and to believe in myself,” noted Samantha, who also receives tutoring in the Center.
Samantha and two other finalists competed in the second annual CSI’s Got Talent on April 18. Her prize was a check for $2,500, some of which she shyly admits she has already spent on a guitar. She said that the rest will go toward her education, but the guitar was a must have.
“It’s an electric acoustic guitar, and I named her Etta James after my favorite blues singer,” said the student, a long-time singer and songwriter who is very passionate about her musical endeavors. Her band, Safe and Sound, is an all-girl group that play acoustic cover songs as well as originals.
Music, however, is not her only pursuit. The 22 year old is a Business major with a concentration in Marketing and plans to attend graduate school at the Fashion Institute of Technology or the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, both in NYC, after she graduates from CSI in January 2014. Her career goal is to work in merchandising and to always have time to sing in a band.
She is also grateful to many of her CSI professors, including a noteworthy professor, Laura Farrell, in the CSI Business Department. “She didn’t look at me as someone with a disability, and she was incredibly helpful with things like one on one tutoring, Samantha said”
Samantha’s winning song at CSI’s Got Talent was “Blues Is My Middle Name,” an original song that she composed herself. The student acknowledged that the cash prize was simply a piece of her winnings that day. “I won money, but I also won friends. The finalists, the crew, and the staff at Student Life were so supportive of me, and that really made the experience worth the practice and the effort.”
The CSA is a part of the Division of Student Affairs.
To learn more about ADD and ADHD, please visit www.add.org