My Life at CSUMB: Samiya Terry was drawn by the beach but found a family

Samiya Terry

Samiya Terry came to CSUMB for basketball and the beach. She also found a supportive community. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

October 9, 2023

By Mark Muckenfuss

Samiya Terry was crossing the CSU Monterey Bay campus recently when she noticed another student sitting on a bench with her head down. The girl was crying. 

Terry didn’t know the student but stopped to comfort her, something she never would have done three years ago when she first came to the university as a shy freshman, she said. Success as a key player on the Otter basketball team, summer work as a campus orientation leader, and finding her CSUMB “family” has given her courage she didn’t know she had.

The student she sat down with was feeling homesick, Terry said, something Terry could relate to from her own first-year experience. Her routine then, she said, was to go to basketball practice, go to class and then go to bed. But the close-knit and accepting community of CSUMB gradually brought her out of her shell and gave her confidence. 

“It’s like I’m a jack-in-the-box now,” she said. “I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I’ve broadened my leadership skills.”

Students come to CSUMB for many reasons. Terry, who is from Long Beach, said she came to play basketball and to be near the ocean. 

“I really love, love the beach,” she said. 

She also saw the “potential” of the university, not only in terms of its sports program (“We’re ready to dominate the CCAA this year,” she said) but also in terms of what she would gain from being a student. 

“You’re going to make lifelong friends here,” Terry said. “You’re going to find your people. Other colleges may say that, but here they truly mean it. 

“The faculty here will come up to you after class and try to get to know you,” she added, something she said she wouldn’t expect to experience at a larger school. “I was on the quad and my professor literally came up to me to see how I was doing.”

That’s only one of the experiences that have surprised her.

“Monterey Bay is more than I expected,” she said. “Because it’s a smaller school, I’ve been able to network on a deeper level.”

She believes that has not only helped her as a student but will continue to do so when she graduates in May with a degree in kinesiology. As co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, she was recently able to attend a national conference in Baltimore and meet with others in the sports community from across the country. 

She believes those contacts will help her down the road, once she hangs up her jersey.

“After the ball stops dribbling, I would like to become an athletic director or a college sports coordinator,” she said. 

CSUMB is giving her the tools to do just that. 

“I feel like I can go into the future as a leader.”