Volunteering in Philadelphia: Jayden Sampson AB'89

Career Chair

Why did you choose Chicago?

I chose the U of C because I wanted to be in an academically challenging yet intellectually spirited academic setting. I liked the small size of the undergraduate school and the accessibility of the brilliant faculty.  I also liked the holistic approach to college education. The required courses which included physical education, speak to the value placed on a truly well rounded education. In addition, the emphasis on being a lifelong learner has been a value that has been the bedrock of my life experience.

What are your favorite memories of Chicago?

I have so many. Here are a few:

a) I will never forget running to turn in a final exam due at midnight, and also seeing another student doing the same for another course. We had a tired salutary exchange and went on to turn in our papers. I really enjoyed writing that paper. It was a 24 hour exam.  

b) I adored my astrophysics course. I still have a 3.1 inch refracting telescope because of that course, and every fall I look up at the stars in wonder, and smile at the beauty.  

c) I really enjoyed my Greek Thought and Lit course as well. I still recall writing a short essay about the urns flashed on the screen during our exam.

d) I also enjoyed Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko training in January. I arrived at Henry Crown every morning by 6AM for a week and enjoyed early morning exercise, and got a free tee shirt. It was such a nice way to break up the winter.

(see more: http://coup.uchicago.edu/events.html)

e) In my capacity as a member of the Organization of Black Students (OBS), Bringing all of the African-American fraternities and sororities to the U of C so that the African-American students would consider joining so that we would have further networking relationships across the numerous colleges and universities. It has paid social dividends ever since for those who decided to pledge. It led to a wonderful match of the intellectual and the social needs of many African-American students.  I joined Delta Sigma Theta because of their focus on service, and while I am not active due to my transition to present as a man, I continue that level of service in my work as a planner for the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference.

What's your favorite UChicago hangout?  

Ida B. Noyes. I really enjoyed that old swimming pool.

What was the best book you read for a course?

If I must be limited to one: Plato’s Symposium. This book typifies two of my great enjoyments: good food and good conversation. Other books of note: would be The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual by Victor Turner, The Frogs by Aristophanes, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, by Emile Durkheim, and finally, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber. There was also a wonderful book of Spanish poems that I read which I enjoyed, but I cannot recall the title. I literally just got rid of just about all of my old books from the U of C in the last month, but kept Plato’s Symposium.

How do you keep involved with the university?

In the last 3 or 4 years, I have been involved with the Philly U of C alumni group chairing the career day event, and in the last 2 years interviewing potential U of C students.

What has surprised you the most about Philly? Any favorite things to do/favorite hangouts?

Hailing from the Midwest, I arrived in Philly in 1992 to practice law right after graduating from law school. I took the PA bar exam so that I could be a public defender, and I am still here. . . Sometimes that surprises me. I selected Philly because of the ethnic diversity, the intellectual milieu supplied by the presence of the U of Penn, Drexel, and Temple, and a top tier public defender’s office.

Since I enjoy good food from around the world, I greatly enjoy the Abyssinia restaurant in West Philly. I have been dining there for over 18 years.

I greatly enjoy riding my bike on the trail from Norristown PA to the art museum.

My favorite thing is to find a great restaurant and good company and engage in meaningful conversation.


What's been your favorite UChicago Alumni in Philly event?

My favorite event is Career Day.  I hope to attend more events in the future when I have more leisure time during the week.


Jayden organized the annual career event held on Saturday, 8th November, in Center City.