Samantha Archer
Home Up Texas 4000



Written by Rick Archer
Last Update: June 2013

Samantha Archer is my daughter.   Sam was born July 23, 1991. 

I am proud to announce that in May 2013 Sam graduated from college at the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in Anthropology.

This web page covers the highlights of Sam's life up to this point.


Here is Sam, my favorite Rugrat at age 4. This picture was taken at an SSQQ Sock Hop

Growing Up

Sam led a very odd life as a 'Studio Kid'.  There was no one in our neighborhood to babysit, so Sam spent six nights a week of her childhood right here at the dance studio.   With no neighborhood children to play with and no siblings, Sam was never around children her own age at home.  My dance studio was even worse.  It was advertised as a 'playground for adults'.  That meant there were no other children at the studio. 

Sam had no choice but to spend her nights hidden away in the studio office by herself.  Sam could hear my voice as I taught in the room next to the office and knew she was welcome to come out of the office whenever she wished.  However, she preferred to stay in the office and read or watch TV.  Sam passed her time reading books about the Berenstein Bears and watching every Disney movie ever recorded.  Later it was 'Rugrats' on Nickelodeon.  As she grew older, like her mother, Sam became a big fan of 'I Love Lucy'.

However, Sam wasn't a complete hermit.  Desperate for a little human contact, Sam would come out of the office at Break Time and walk around chatting with the adults she had made friends with.  There were many dance students who recognized her and went out of their way to talk with Sam whenever she made an appearance.  The positive side of this unusual upbringing is that the adults Sam grew up around were always kind to her.  As a result, at an early age, Sam lost her shyness around adults completely. Sam wasn't afraid of strangers.   Quite the contrary, Sam became very outgoing.  Sam was unfailingly polite and respectful with the adults who stopped to speak with her.  I might add she became quite the conversationalist.   Sam would talk to anyone about anything.

Unfortunately, kids her own age were the problem. As an only child, it took Sam a while to catch up to kids her own age.  Sam had trouble handling the inevitable childhood teasing because she led such a cloistered existence.  Sam was perplexed about what to do when kids bullied her or teased her.  We decided to send Sam to Duchesne Academy for a pre-kindergarten program primarily to get her around more children.

The Duchesne Years

Sam loved Duchesne so much that she spent 14 years at the school.  Duchesne was a beautiful school located in a pine tree forest in the Memorial area.  With modern buildings surrounding a lovely inner courtyard, this place felt like a sanctuary from all strife.  

Sam attended all the way from Pre-K through graduation from high school.  I loved the quality of Sam's education.  Duchesne was an academic powerhouse.  Only the smartest students were admitted.  Class sizes were small, maybe 15 students at most.  Sometimes I got the feeling that Duchesne operated more as a family than as a school. 

I suppose it was a little weird going to an all-girls school for 14 years, but I will let the results speak for themselves - Sam developed tremendous self-confidence.  Even better, she developed a big heart.  Sam's graduating class was only 54 students.  Sam was popular with all of her classmates although her parents were not rich enough to afford to let Sam hang with the wealthier students on a social basis.  Oh well. 

Fortunately there was a significant group of girls who could not have cared less about money either.  Sam fit in with this group perfectly.  Sam benefitted tremendously from the close interaction with her classmates.  Sam thought of many of these girls as more than just friends.  They were her sisters. 

One year I taught the entire school to dance for
Go Texan Day.  That's me up there in the far corner

Duchesne was always one big family. The student body was only 700 girls, so this is practically the whole school

 That's Sam dancing in the middle of the throng along
with Sister Dunn, Headmaster of Duchesne.


Sam was about 8 when Judy and I began to have our disagreements.  Our home was not a horrible place to live during this time, but Sam was aware her parents weren't doing very well.   Things became rather formal between Judy and I for two years culminating in our divorce in early 2001.  It broke my heart to see Sam suffer because I went through the exact same thing at the same age.  The irony was not lost on me.

The Duchesne family really came to Sam's aid. Throughout this tense time (4th and 5th grade), Sam's teachers and friends at Duchesne helped Sam immensely.  Nor did the support end after the divorce. Throughout high school, the support Sam received at school really helped keep her glued together.

Duchesne Academy was the center of Sam's existence.  Duchesne reached out to help Sam for a simple reason - Sam's teachers loved her.  All that poise Sam had developed in her early years at the dance studio helped make Sam the ideal student.  Sam was polite, respectful, warm, and inquisitive. 

Unfortunately Sam didn't come out of the divorce unscathed.  For the next six years Sam divided her time evenly between my house and her mother's house.  Back and forth, back and forth.  I felt tremendous sympathy for my suitcase kid.  However I wasn't about to give up my 50% share of time with my daughter unless I thought it would be for her own good.  I asked Sam what she wanted to do and she said to keep it the way it was.  So for six years till HS graduation the three of us made the best of the strange situation. 

Sam's suitcase lifestyle was tough on her.  The constant back and forth between two homes took its toll. It was about this time that Sam stopped doing her homework on a regular basis.  Due to her struggles with getting homework assignments in on time, Sam's grades plummeted.  Sam and I had several discussions about her haphazard work ethic, but to no avail.  I wasn't please with her decision to coast through high school, but I didn't see any point in making her miserable. Things were tough enough as it was. 

Homework problems aside, I was consistently thrilled at the quality of her education. Whenever we talked about what she was learning, I could see that the lights were definitely turned on.  This school didn't just drill in the facts, it taught Sam to think for herself.  Sam learned early on to look past stereotypes and question assumptions most people take for granted.  That pleased me no end. 

Her grades aside, during her HS career, Sam won several major writing and speech awards.  These awards plus the fact that Sam generally got her work done helped keep me at bay.  Nevertheless I constantly frowned at the disconnect between her grades and her talent.  And then there was Senior Year. What a mess. A serious case of Senioritis led to a wildly exciting final two months of Senior Year.  Sam's highly dramatic finish left me wondering if she would ever be a success at the college level.

Despite her academic rollercoaster, once Sam discovered her talent for Drama, she really hit her groove.  During her high school years at Duchesne, Sam had the lead in several plays.  I admired Sam up on stage.  I know a Father is always supposed to think his daughter is wonderful, but I honestly thought she was an excellent actress.  I wasn't the only one who thought that way.  Thanks in large part to her stage talent,  Sam's promise as an aspiring actress helped her get into the University of Texas via their Fine Arts Department.  I might add that I put Sam's acting talent to use in a unique way - Sam and her friend Maddie played monsters in the SSQQ Halloween Haunted House throughout HS.  Pretty scary duo.

Sam graduated from Duchesne in 2009 and UT in the Fall.  She immediately thrived at at UT. To my absolute delight, Sam started to do some homework.  Lo and behold, she made the Dean's List her first semester.  Then she did it again.  Amazing what Sam can do when she tries a little. 

Although Sam has changed her major several times, her grades have stayed high.  In addition, Sam has become a real leader at school.  I could not be more pleased with her progress.

And now it is time for a pictorial tribute to SSQQ's Original Studio Kid. 

Sam's Story in Pictures

Sam's first Halloween Party 1991, 3 months old


La Princessa Age 2


Age 2


Hey Sam, next time put on the skis AFTER you get outside


The Alien.  Do I have to admit she's mine?


Maybe we should have adopted


Age 3 on Dad's shoulders as usual


Hey kid, can't you find somewhere else to sit?


Snow White and friend Priya


Age 4 with Sam's new puppy Amy


Wake up, Dad!  It's time to have some fun!


My upside down Pickleworm


Age 2, doing the Stroll at a Sock Hop


Age 7, the Life of the Party. OMG is that a Rice logo?


Why can't I look more like Shirley Temple?


Field Day, Fourth Grade


Fourth Grade


Fifth Grade


Dance class, Age 8


Judy and Sam.  See any resemblance?


Age 7.  Sam is helping us put down the new studio dance floor at SSQQ over Christmas Break 1998

I once asked Sam if she wanted to own the studio some day. Sam replied, "No way. You and Mom have to work too hard."

Sam wasn't kidding either.  Sam never once changed her tune.  She had no interest whatsoever in inheriting the studio.  Oh well.

Emily and Nicholas at Sam's Easter Egg Hunt


Emily and Nicholas Mann were Sam's second family


The Harry Potter Kids at the 2001 Sock Hop


Tommy, Sam age 9, Ashley,


Halloween Age 14


Halloween Age 15.  Sam and Maddie
were the Monsters in the SSQQ Haunted House


Dancing Queen


The shocking Smooch!!

That's Dad wrapping his arms around the PE teacher.
Sam's most traumatic grade school moment ever...
Sam was very embarrassed at my stunt.


You need a new hairstyle, Dad


Sam and Mom.  Sam's first cruise trip, age 7


You get a lot of attention when you're the only kid on the trip


Dad and Sam, 1998 Cruise


After the 2001 divorce, some wistful times


Cousin April and Sam, 2001 trip to Virginia


Starting to cheer up a little


Renaissance Festival 2001, Age 10


October 2001 - A fateful day - Sam meets Marla, Dad's new girlfriend.

Marla, Rick, Sam on a 2003 cruise to the Cayman Islands


Sam turns 11


Acting school.  Is that the Hand Jive?


Born to be a Diva


Age 11.  Dad's little girl is growing up


Seventh Grade


Eighth Grade


Sam, 14, with Marissa at Rick and Marla's Wedding 2004


Unusual fact - Sam and Marissa were both only children.  By the way, Sam has a secret - she just got braces. Her smile will be back soon enough.


Uncle Larry and Aunt Roz


Glenn and Marissa's Wedding 2008. 
Glenn became a neat brother who loves to tease Sam


Christmas 2009 in Keystone Colorado
Marla just stuffed a snowball inside Marissa's jacket


One year later. Christmas 2010. 
Welcome to the family, Lucas!


Thanks to Marla's cruise magic, Sam got to see the world. Sam, Rick, Marissa, Marla in Alaska 2005


Another cruise- Greece 2008, Age 17. Ah, I see teeth again.  Judging by the smile, the braces must be off.


The cruise to Italy 2008.  That is Rome's beautiful
Trevi Fountain in the background


Throughout childhood they always said Sam looked just like her mother Judy.   Now that I see the finished product, I have to agree.



High School Play - The Man Who Came to Dinner
I feel sorry for the guy who ever has to face that look.


High School Play - The Prodigious Snob


Sam was in two plays a year throughout high school. 
Her skill as an actress became her ticket to UT


Maddie and Sam, Best Friends Forever


Sam, 17, in Stage Door


Sam, 16, The Man Who Came to Dinner


Sam, age 13, and Dad
No matter how old she gets, Sam will always be my girl


Sam, age 16, and Dad 
Gee, Dad's hair just keeps getting whiter


Senior Year, HS, age 17. I am very proud of Sam. 
She has turned into quite a young lady.


The heavy price of popularity


Sophisticated Lady at the Prom with Tom


Sam, Emily, Nicholas. The Harry Potter kids have grown up


Emily and Sam... friends for so long they are almost sisters


Margaux and Carl Mann are Nicholas and Emily's parents.  They are also wonderful parents to Sam. They both played a key role in helping Sam overcome her Senior Year crisis.


HS Graduation Present - a Trip to France and the Louvre.  Thank you, Carl and Margaux!


A proud moment indeed - the end of a 14 year career
Graduation from Duchesne May 2009


Tom and Margaret, another set of remarkable parents.
They say you need a village to raise a child.
There's a lot of truth in that.


The Queen, Sam's favorite teacher.  This school taught my daughter to question everything.  I cannot begin to say
how pleased I was with Sam's education


Remember Priya from childhood? 
Well, take another look at her


Isn't it amazing what swans our little girls turn into?
All they need is just a little love.


The Duchesne education was the greatest gift
Judy and I could give our daughter. 
I thank the SSQQ Community for helping us
afford to send Sam to this fine school.


Packing up for college


Making progress


Sam's room after she's gone.
Not exactly the Empty Nest Syndrome


Freshman year.  Sam in her UT dorm room, 18


Sam home from college with Peanut for company.
Sam's own bed was too cluttered to sleep on


I wanted Sam to go to Rice,
but if Sam is happy, I am happy.


Sam in her HS Senior Year


Sam in her Freshman Year at UT


Sam in her Sophomore Year at UT.


Sam Sophomore Year at UT


Sam Sophomore Year at UT


Sam Sophomore Year at UT



Rick's Note: 
On July 23, 2011, Sam celebrated her
twentieth birthday.  Her first two years at the University of Texas have been productive.  In addition to making excellent grades, Sam earned a coveted Rapoport scholarship in her Freshman year.  As part of her scholarship, Sam is expected to do community service.  In her first year, Sam worked for the Texas After Violence Project, a program that fights injustice in our legal system.  In her second year, Sam did volunteer work at a school for underprivileged students.  Last time I checked, Sam was the official Chess Instructor in addition to many other duties. 

Sam has become a leader at the University of Texas.  Although she decided a career as a Theater Major would probably not pay the bills down the line, Sam continues her acting career through the Madrigal and Improv programs at the Student Events Center.  Sam was so impressed at the impact of the Student Events Center on student life, Sam became involved in the SEC at the administrative level as well.  For her Junior year, Sam will be a vice-president in charge of planning Student Events throughout the year. 

In her Freshman year, Sam was hired for a summer job as an Orientation Advisor for incoming students.  Sam also did volunteer work helping parents with special weekends at UT.  One afternoon Sam went out of her way to help a lost set of parents locate their children on the massive campus.  Unbeknownst to Sam, a woman in the Admissions Office noticed this simple act of kindness.  This lady encouraged Sam to apply for a job in the Admissions Office.  She got the job.  As a result, throughout her Sophomore year, Sam served as a representative for the University of Texas.  In her job as counselor for the Office of Admissions, Sam answers hundreds of calls each week from parents who need information about how to send their children to UT.  In addition,  Sam conducts daily tours escorting potential UT students and their parents around campus when they visit UT.   

Sam appears to be a natural in this role.  She is confident without being obnoxious.  Sam is respectful and extremely gracious to all people.  I might add that Sam doesn't have a prejudiced bone in her body.  Race means nothing to her, religion means nothing to her, nor does a person's homeland.  Sam took Arabic in her Freshman year.  Her roommate is from Tunisia. 

Interestingly, Sam's best friend Freshman year was a girl from College Station.  As a result Sam visited the A&M campus several times and made friends there as well.   Sam is mature in ways that are well beyond her years. 

When I said earlier it takes a Village to raise a child properly, I credit her unusual early years at the dance studio for helping Sam become a born goodwill ambassador.  I think back to all the kindness Sam received at the dance studio while growing up.  Sam learned not to fear strangers.  She began enjoy wandering around the studio greeting people and soaking up well-meant attention. 

I watched from afar as people went out of their way to be nice to my daughter.  Not one evening passed when an adult didn't take the time to engage Sam in a serious conversation.   Sam would answer their questions without hesitation.  She was so good at expressing herself and welcoming people that as early as the Eighth Grade Duchesne gave her a recurring role their own "Visitor's Day" for prospective students.

Now the University of Texas has put her in the exact same role.  Sam is perfect at an international campus like the University of Texas.   She loves being a walking talking United Nations-style tour guide

And it all started at SSQQ.   Sam is the original studio kid. 

I always used to fret that our dance studio might not be the best environment to raise a child.  I could not have been more wrong.  The people who came to my studio on a nightly were intelligent, educated decent people who had children of their own.  They enjoyed befriending my daughter.

And now look how she turned out.   Please join me in being proud of her... after all, if you were part of the Village, then Sam is your kid too.  Maybe you never met Sam, but if you ever took a dance class at SSQQ, then you helped her receive her remarkable education at Duchesne. 

Indeed, I thank you all so much for helping me to raise such a great young lady.    RA

Age 2

Age 12

Age 17


April 2012 Picture: This is a picture of Sam and her co-workers from her job at the UT Admissions Office.  Sam asked me to teach a dance class for her friends at work, so I drove up to Austin for the weekend.


2012: In Sam's Junior year at UT, she applied for the prestigious Texas 4000 bike team.  Each summer 70 UT students ride their bicycles all the way from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska.  The distance is approximately 4,000 miles which explains the name.

One of the goals is to raise money for cancer research at MD Anderson Hospital here in Houston.  Sam certainly did her part as she eventually raised over $5,000. 

Her bike trip to Anchorage takes place in June-July 2013.

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