OSWEGO, N.Y.- As a first-generation college student, Aziz Samrimsakov knows the pressure of needing to do well in school. He has always been acutely aware of how important it is for him to be number one, given how much his family relies on him at home. Regardless, the heavy reminder of the high expectation set for him by his family has helped mold him into the person he is today.
“All those stereotypes about Asian families and the stigma behind it?” Samrimsakov said. “Yeah. Well, that’s true. So that kind of, you know, shaped me as a young adult and a leader, coming into SUNY Oswego.”
Now a 20-year-old sophomore, Samrimsakov has made a name for himself on SUNY Oswego’s campus. Born and raised in Uzbekistan, Samrimsakov migrated to the U.S. with his family in August 2017. Upon touch down at John F. Kennedy International Airport, they moved to New York City, where he attended Emma Lazarus High School in Chinatown. Almost three years after becoming a legal citizen, he graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma in June 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Following his successful completion of high school with a GPA of 91, Samrimsakov came to SUNY Oswego on a merit scholarship.
Thus, he began the resume-building process that would inevitably lead him to his current Laker Leader position.
“So, when I came into Oswego, I knew that I would be an RA my sophomore year,” Samrimsakov said. “I remember I applied last February. I believe the second week of April, I got the RA position and was placed in Seneca. So, I accomplished that goal.”
To expand his networking opportunities, Samrimsakov also applied for the Laker Leader position in February. After he filled out his application, there were individual and group interviews for the job. Once interviews were over, Samrimsakov got a surprise: he received an email about an opening and excitedly accepted. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Samrimsakov was ready for the rigorous training that came with being a Laker Leader and voiced many ideas about enhancing the program to his peers. Though sometimes, being a go-getter is not all it’s cracked up to be.
“In the short amount of time that we had, um, bringing everybody back to campus in the beginning of June and doing training and then hopping right into New Student Orientation and the in-person programs, there wasn’t a lot of time for those like, ideas to come out,” said Associate Coordinator for New Student Orientation Jennifer Joyce.
One of Samrimsakov’s ideas that he desperately tried to make work was a parent hotline.
“He was on a committee working with parents, and we would do a hotline,” said Joyce. “He had these grand ideas about advertising it and getting a lot of people to call. But nobody was calling because it was kind of in the middle of the week, from six o’clock to eight o’clock at night.”
Joyce suspected that new students and parents were not as eager to call the hotline due to the time of year. She figured incoming students would be too busy with their friends from home, and their parents would be too tired from working all day to talk on the phone. Eventually, they had to give up on the hotline to focus their energy on the more successful promotions New Student Orientation was carrying out.
Even though his plan didn’t work as he’d hoped, Samrimsakov continued to build his network with the school.
“During that Laker Leader training, I was also trained to become a tour guide,” Samrimsakov said.
Most recently, Samrimsakov was able to apply for the position of Laker Leader captain with New Student Orientation for the summer of 2021, thanks to his many qualifications. Though he couldn’t have accomplished everything he’s achieved at SUNY Oswego alone. Samrimsakov believes that watching his mother’s accomplishments from a young age shaped him as a person.
“You know, as a kid, I would always see my mom holding leadership positions, back in Uzbekistan,” Samrimsakov said. “And in Uzbekistan, my mom worked for the president of the country. So, I would always see her fulfill a lot of leadership opportunities.”
Because of his mother’s career, Samrimsakov was inspired to be a leader even before coming to Oswego. In his old school in Uzbekistan, he would work toward being the president or minister of his class every year. Coming from a strict Asian household, Samrimsakov already knew how to be a leader. Regardless, he knew he needed to maintain that style coming into SUNY Oswego.
“I had to like, keep being on that same track, uh, being a leader,” Samrimsakov said.
Nevertheless, the pressure Samrimsakov exerted on himself worked. His Laker Leader position has allowed for him to apply for more serious jobs in the last few semesters, and he’s received several scholarships as a result.
“I’m now holding several leadership positions at the school,” Samrimsakov said. “So here I am, thanks to my Laker Leader position.”