Alumni Profile: Samara Fox '04 (Pre-U '05)
Samara Fox may have taken a circuitous route to the current stage of her career, but she believes that one’s career can be a journey rather than a destination. After graduating from LCC’s Pre-University program, Samara attended Yale University where, while majoring in psychology, she also took classes in a variety of other fields as a way of exploring her diverse interests.
While at LCC, Samara earned a spot on the Canadian National Debating Team, and the love she developed for debating influenced her decision to pursue law at Harvard University after completing her undergraduate studies. Once she realized she craved more day-to-day human connection in her work, Samara enrolled in pre-med classes during her final year and finished them while working as an immigration attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services.
“I was involved in asylum advocacy and health policy and believed that I could apply what I liked about the law to the field of medicine,” she says. “During my legal training, I developed my communication and critical thinking skills which, as it turns out, are heavily relied upon in medicine.”
Samara returned to Yale to complete her medical degree and is now in the second year of her psychiatry residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Even with degrees from two of the most acclaimed universities in the world, Samara does not cite those as her proudest accomplishments. “One of the hardest things that I have finally learned is how to do something because I really want to and not to fulfill the expectations of others,” she says.
The daughter of a Jewish WWII refugee, Samara is also proud of the service work she does for immigrants. Combining her medical and legal expertise, Samara conducts forensic evaluations of asylum seekers to document medical evidence of persecution. In addition, in collaboration with a former mentor at Yale and Physicians for Human Rights, she has advocated in op-eds and legal affidavits for the release from immigration detention of individuals who are at high risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19.
Looking back on her LCC experience, Samara fondly remembers teachers like John Vlahogiannis, Chris George, and Barry Armstrong who taught her, above all else, how to think critically. She also recognizes how much her co-curricular activities — primarily debating and rugby — played a role in shaping her by teaching the values of teamwork and grit.
Samara acknowledges there were things she did not learn in high school and in her post-secondary studies. “LCC, Yale and Harvard are environments largely of privilege, and the most pressing problems in the world can feel less acute when most of your peers are very advantaged,” she says. “At LCC, we were required to do a certain amount of community service in keeping with its motto Non Nobis Solum, but I still felt that implicit in our overall education was an emphasis on the ideal of success. Historically, LCC was a selective and relatively expensive day and boarding school attended by mostly white males and so, like many ideals, Non Nobis Solum was always limited by an evolving social context. While I was a student, the humanities were taught with a standard emphasis on classic Western history and thought. In retrospect, I think I left LCC with an underdeveloped under-standing of important minority experiences and perspectives. Intellectual frameworks such as feminism, queer theory and critical race theory are important and foundational, and I’m thrilled to see that, since my time at LCC, the school has integrated more social justice issues and historical re-centering into the curricular and co-curricular programming.”
Samara has just started a research project to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of online group therapy for LGBTQ asylum-seekers to provide better access to mental health care. She also looks forward to being at the cutting-edge of clinical practice by learning about the novel treatments for mood disorders that are being researched at Harvard and Yale medical schools.
Samara draws from her own experience to offer this piece of advice to new graduates: “When you are trying to figure out what to do with your life, try to pay attention to what really fills up your cup — what makes you feel satisfied and happy. It’s true that part of growing up is learning how to do some things we really don’t love doing. At the same time, if we get in the habit of working hard in pursuit of praise or someone else’s idea of success, we end up trying to fill up a cup that is cracked.”