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Learning in Action at the University of Virginia

Hoos Serving: Sami Kandil

Sami KandilSami Kandil is a fourth-year in the McIntire School, majoring in Commerce with a Finance concentration and Real Estate track. Sami is the co-president of Blossom Together, a student-led humanitarian organization that supports living standards in third-world African countries. Founded in 2018, Blossom Together has raised nearly $200,000, worked in five different countries, and partnered with reputable institutions like the World Bank. After graduation, Sami will go into investment banking.

What led you to your service work?

Growing up in a practicing Muslim household, I was taught at a very young age to seek happiness in the happiness of other. I remember how proud my father was when I voluntarily helped shovel the snow from our elderly neighbor’s driveway. Giving back was and remains an important value in my life, helping shape the man I am today.

What has been the most rewarding aspect that comes with your community involvements?

Seeing the joy and relief in-person might be the most rewarding aspect of this work. I was fortunate enough to fly to Burkina Faso and Mali on multiple occasions, interacting with the locals directly. Handing out candy to the children in Mali, dancing alongside the Burkinabe during a local wedding, and sharing dinner with a local Malian family in their homes were amongst a few of my most cherished moments.

How would you encourage others to get involved?

Blossom Together provides the opportunity to help those in need, enhance the extent of individuals’ global experiences, and gain a whole new perspective to life. Students at UVA are brilliant, curious, and ambitious for all the new endeavors their college years have to offer. With Blossom Together, we get to make a humanitarian yet entrepreneurial addition to our journey.

Sami with a group of childrenWhat would people be surprised to learn about you?

Though I was born in Illinois, I lived in five states growing up: Milwaukee, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. I like change and the opportunity to move around.

What is your favorite spot on Grounds and why?

My favorite spot is the third-floor balcony at McIntire. More specifically, the rooftop garden that extends from that balcony, offering the best sunset view and the opportunity to relieve myself of some exam-triggered stress.

What is a book or movie you would recommend?

Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” is my favorite movie of all time, depicting a perfect combination of suffering and love and courage. Despite its three-hour length, I have watched it multiple times over.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place, what would it be?

I would be generous. Generous with my time, my money, my smiles, and anything else that could make someone else happier. I firmly believe that the less we can focus on ourselves as individuals, the better off we would be as a community.