Sharon Sampson never dreamed of becoming a college professor. Not when she was growing up in South Los Angeles, not when she was living with her grandparents in Belize for five years after her parents split up, and not when she embarked on a career as a probation officer. Today, Sampson is not only a Grossmont College assistant professor in the Administration of Justice program, but she also serves as an Academic Senate senator-at-large, a campus professional development co-coordinator, and an active member of the President’s Anti-Racism Taskforce.
Her latest title: Grossmont College’s new Equal Employment Opportunity Site Lead responsible for collaborating with Human Resources and the Equity in Employment Taskforce to design and implement robust EEO trainings, facilitate communication between constituencies, and – through consultation – appoint EEO representatives to search and interview committees and hiring workgroups.
“I love being part of the Grossmont family and I’m honored to be working here,” she said.
Sampson’s journey has prepared her for this moment. “Because of my background and my experiences, diversity, equity, and inclusion are huge for me. I identify with immigrants because my parents are immigrants who had to hide in plain sight. I identify with foreigners because I spent much of my childhood growing up in another country and was seen as a foreigner both in the African American community of Los Angeles and when I was living in Belize. And I identify with being Black because I am Black, whether I was accepted as being Black. I am the product of a lot of different intersections.”
Sampson graduated from UC Riverside with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology and was recruited for a job working in the maximum-security ward at San Bernardino County’s Juvenile Hall. That was followed by a post as a Riverside County probation officer, and then, for 18 years, a position as a federal probation officer. “If you have a seat at the table, you have a voice that can affect change from the inside,” she said of her career in law enforcement.
Sampson later worked as a professional development specialist at the San Manuel Reservation while also serving as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Phoenix. When she married her husband, who was in the Navy and based in San Diego, she applied for a teaching position at Grossmont College. She’s been here for nearly six years.
Her dedication remains resolute. “Once you have an opportunity, you have to look at it as a blessing. You’re here to leave whatever you’re given better than it was when you received it.”