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Today@Sam Article

Alumnus Shares Story Behind 'Gift Of A Lifetime'

April 10, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Justin Kinslow

In honor of the Alumni Association's membership month, SHSU graduate Justin Kinslow—'08 BS in criminal justice and '10 MS in security studies—shares his reason for becoming a Life Member in 2010.


On multiple occasions I have been asked why I became a Life Member of the Sam Houston Alumni Association. Many of my friends thought being part of the Alumni Association was only for older generations of Sam Houston alumni and, for some reason, that you had to have an established and successful career to join. I find myself explaining that this couldn’t be further from the truth, so I often share my thoughts to them on why I became a Life Member.

As a 19-year-old transfer student from a community college looking to obtain a criminal justice degree just like all the other small-town kids, a buddy of mine was caring enough to help me land a job in the heart of campus, at the Lowman Student Center. It was here that I worked many different events and functions ranging from concerts, to wedding receptions and banquets. One event that I had the pleasure of working with, which will forever be engrained in my memory, was the Distinguished Alumni Gala through the Sam Houston Alumni Association. I remember that this event alone instantly changed my perception of Sam Houston State and has still been very inspirational in my planning for my future.

I stood in the back of the elegantly decorated, yet dimly lit ballroom of the LSC and watched these remarkable Sam Houston alumni be honored for their successes as businessmen and women, for their leadership in their communities, and for their acts of service in their lives. I glared up at the podium in awe of these amazing and successful leaders. I attended the event as a young, teenage college sophomore but after listening to these recipients’ stories, my brain could not help but look toward the future. I knew that I wanted to be that type of person. I wanted to be a leader, a mentor, and respected amongst my peers.

During my time of employment at the LSC, I worked multiple Distinguished Alumni Galas. Over the years several people received awards and each one had a different story to be told. But there was one common theme among them all: each recipient of the award credited their successes to their time at Sam Houston State University. It was very empowering to know that each one of these successful, distinguished individuals started out in the same spot I was. Each of them had dreams and goals they wished to achieve in their lives, and they picked Sam Houston as part of their journey. This inspired me to learn more, to do better, and to want to be better. To me, that is what the Life Membership is all about. Why wouldn’t I want to join a professional network whose members stand for something more; a network that is full of fellow Bearkats that I aspire to be like; a network that is connected across the country in ways I didn’t even know was possible; and a network that is true to its alma mater?

One constant that I learned in my time at Sam is that being a Bearkat is so much more than just attending classes. It seems that all Bearkats share a common sentiment and emotion in our hearts for the place we went to college. Being a more recent graduate, I am often reminiscent of my times walking down the Mall staring at the amazing statue of “Sam-On-a-Stick” or hearing the peaceful tune of the Bell Tower reminding me that I was late for class. When you talk to other Bearkats around the country, you realize that their memories are not that different from yours. They, too, enjoyed some of the same pastimes and heartfelt memories at Sam Houston that you did.

Many younger-generation alumni wonder how the Life Membership can affect them directly in the near future. I find this question very difficult to answer, so instead I let them answer it for themselves. “If given the opportunity, wouldn’t you help out a fellow Bearkat if you had the chance?” It is because Bearkats all share a common and unique bond with our alma mater that this answer is always “YES!” Regardless of age, my desire to still be a part of the bigger Bearkat community and extended network is how I knew that becoming a Life Member was an important decision. I am confident that my Life Member and Alumni Association network will continue to assist me in my journey in striving to be like those distinguished alumni I saw on stage years ago. After all, “The measure of a Life is its Service.”



Alumni Association memberships are available at multiple levels. For more information on the SHSU Alumni Association or different membership levels, or to join during "Membership Month," visit http://alumni.shsu.edu.



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