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Send a Student to SSA Con 2015


Alumni Spotlight: Sam Shore


This is part of our new Alumni Spotlight series, where we highlight alumni of our affiliate groups and the awesome things they have been doing since they graduated. Are you a Secular Student Alliance alum? Tell us how you've been doing! We'd love to spotlight you!

samThis month's featured alumnus is Sam Shore. Sam is an alumnus of the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, class of 2011, where he was the Social Media Director for the Illini Secular Student Alliance for a year and a half. While he signed up for his affiliate group's email list at the beginning of his freshman year, it took being personally invited by a friend to their fall kick off picnic at the beginning of his third year in college for him to get involved. By the spring semester, he had joined ISSA's Board of Directors.

Since graduating, Sam chose to stay in Champaign, where he currently works as the Membership Coordinator at the local Unitarian Universalist Church. He was also recently appointed for the Champaign County Board, where he represents much of the campus and downtown Champaign. 

When asked what he considered the most influential experience from his student activism, Sam replied, "Representing my group on an interfaith panel on same-sex relationships. Preparing for this event made me consider how I was to present myself and my values. Learning to see the concerns of those I disagree with has made me a better person who is more adept at defending my positions."

Sam also stated that his time in ISSA helped him get to where he is today by helping him learn to cooperatively execute projects and manage volunteers. 

"Because of my experience as a student leader, I got to spend a year coordinating the national partnership between Foundation Beyond Belief and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which provided the opportunity to travel, do a lot of good, and further hone my professional skills. Working locally on fundraising for LLS with the ISSA officers who came after me brought me in contact with the mayor of Champaign, who has been a great ally to humanist causes and helped me make local connections that have benefitted me professionally and led to great new friends."

Any advice for current secular students, Sam? 

Executive Corner Piece: We are Still Proudly Secular!


August E. Brunsman IV is the Executive Director of the Secular Student Alliance. This essay is part of a series we called our Executive Corner Pieces. These are generally published the second Tuesday of each month and give you a little insight to the thoughts of our Executive Director. 

Last month, we publicly launched our revamped Mission, Vision, and Values and the response has shown us how many folks share our organization's values and vision. The SSA is committed to increasing diversity, focusing on making our work richer by working with intersectional causes, and helping more people use secular values to find meaning and purpose in their lives. We are very proud of all the work that went into this revamp and of the time and effort from our Board of Directors and tireless staff. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we appreciate that our supporters feel the same way about the direction of the Secular Student Alliance. 

However, we’ve also received some questions about our new Mission, Vision, and Values that I wanted to address. 

Some supporters are concerned that we won’t be continuing the sort of work we’ve done in the past with our affiliate groups, but our new Mission, Vision, and Core Values adds to who we are as an organization. We’re still planning to do Ask an Atheist Day, Graveyard of the Gods, and Darwin Day. We’re also going to keep supporting debates and discussions that question the role of religion in society. We remain proudly secular and fearless inquiry is a central part of who we are! 

Most of the students we support see their secularism as a core part of their identity. Their decision to focus on the only life and only world they know informs all of their important decisions. We want to let our students know that we expect and encourage their thoughtful engagement on the pressing issues of the day. This isn't just about our students’ time in high school or college, but about living meaningful lives as secular individuals. We want to set them up to continue spreading secular values and normalizing secular identity after they graduate. To do that, we need a secularism that’s big enough and rich enough to inform a lifetime of decisions. Just to be very clear, we don’t think we have all the answers. But we do want to encourage a lot of conversations.

Secular Student Movement Update 4/16/2015


Every week, the SSA prepares a summary of what the secular student movement is doing. To hear this update and news from the secular movement, tune into the SCA's National Secular Movement Update every Thursday at 12PM ET.

Presented by Kelley Freeman, Communications Associate at the Secular Student Alliance

Today is Ask an Atheist Day! We've had forty or so affiliate groups request packets of materials for events on their campus, and we anticipate hearing great things in the next few weeks about how things went. Our staff also participated in an Ask Me Anything on reddit today as part of the celebration. 

Next Thursday is the first Openly Secular Day! The University of Central Florida is hosting the flagship event with speakers such as Chris Kluwe, Greta Christina, and Hemant Mehta, but many more events will be going on throughout the country. You can find more information at openlysecularday.org. Keep an eye on our website for a recap of events in the next few weeks!

Conference registration for our Annual Conference is open. This year's Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference will be in Columbus, Ohio July 10-12th! You can also check out our schedule of speakers which includes representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Think Progress, the National LGBTQ Task Force, as well as secular student leaders from around the country. Information about our awesome annual conference so you can be as excited as we are can be found at secularstudents.org/2015con

That's all for this week! For more information, questions, comments or additions to student-led efforts in the secular movement, contact ssa@secularstudents.org.


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