by Rick Archer
Last Update: June 2013
Samantha Archer is my
daughter. Sam was
born July 23,
am proud to announce that in May 2013 Sam graduated from
college at the University of Texas in Austin with a degree
This web page covers the highlights of Sam's life up to this
Here is Sam, my favorite
Rugrat at age 4.
This picture was taken at an SSQQ Sock Hop
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
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'.
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
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
became quite the conversationalist. Sam would talk
to anyone about anything.
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
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
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.
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.
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
dancing in the middle of the throng along
with Sister Dunn, Headmaster of Duchesne.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
didn't see any point in making her miserable. Things were tough enough
as it was.
I was consistently
thrilled at the quality of her
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.
early on to look past stereotypes and
question assumptions most people take for
granted. That pleased me no end.
grades aside, during her HS career,
won several major writing and speech awards.
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
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
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.
graduated from Duchesne in 2009 and UT in the Fall. She
immediately thrived at
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.
it is time for a
pictorial tribute to SSQQ's Original Studio
Sam's Story in Pictures
Halloween Party 1991, 3 months old
Princessa Age 2
Hey Sam, next
time put on the skis AFTER you get outside
Do I have to admit she's mine?
should have adopted
Age 3 on Dad's
shoulders as usual
Hey kid, can't
you find somewhere else to sit?
Snow White and
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?
Judy and Sam.
See any resemblance?
Sam is helping us put down the new studio
dance floor at SSQQ over Christmas Break
asked Sam if she wanted to own the studio
some day. Sam replied, "No way. You and Mom
have to work too hard."
wasn't kidding either. Sam never once
changed her tune. She had no interest
whatsoever in inheriting the studio.
Nicholas at Sam's Easter Egg Hunt
Nicholas Mann were Sam's second family
Potter Kids at the 2001 Sock Hop
Tommy, Sam age
Halloween Age 14
Halloween Age 15.
Sam and Maddie
were the Monsters in the SSQQ Haunted House
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
Sam and Mom.
Sam's first cruise trip, age 7
You get a lot
of attention when you're the only kid on the
Dad and Sam,
After the 2001
divorce, some wistful times
and Sam, 2001 trip to Virginia
Starting to cheer up a little
Festival 2001, Age 10
October 2001 - A fateful day
- Sam meets Marla, Dad's new girlfriend.
Sam on a 2003 cruise to the Cayman Islands
school. Is that the Hand Jive?
Born to be
11. Dad's little girl is growing up
with Marissa at Rick and Marla's Wedding
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.
Larry and Aunt Roz
Marissa's Wedding 2008.
Glenn became a neat brother who loves to
in Keystone Colorado
Marla just stuffed a snowball inside Marissa's
later. Christmas 2010.
Welcome to the family, Lucas!
Marla's cruise magic, Sam got to see the
world. Sam, Rick, Marissa, Marla in Alaska
2008, Age 17. Ah, I see teeth again.
Judging by the smile, the braces must be
to Italy 2008.
That is Rome's beautiful
Trevi Fountain in
childhood they always
said Sam looked
just like her mother Judy. Now that I
see the finished product, I have to agree.
Play - The Man Who Came to Dinner
I feel sorry for the guy who ever has to face
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
17, in Stage
Sam, 16, The Man Who Came to Dinner
Sam, age 13,
No matter how old she gets, Sam will always be
Sam, age 16,
Gee, Dad's hair just keeps getting whiter
HS, age 17. I am very proud of Sam.
She has turned into quite a young lady.
price of popularity
Sophisticated Lady at the Prom with
Sam, Emily, Nicholas. The Harry Potter kids have
Sam... friends for so long they are almost sisters
and Carl Mann are Nicholas and Emily's
They are also wonderful parents to Sam.
They both played a key role in helping Sam
overcome her Senior Year crisis.
Graduation Present - a Trip to France and the Louvre.
Thank you, Carl and Margaux!
proud moment indeed - the end of a 14 year career
Duchesne May 2009
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.
Queen, Sam's favorite teacher. This school taught
my daughter to question everything. I cannot begin
how pleased I was with Sam's education
Remember Priya from
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.
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
after she's gone.
Not exactly the Empty Nest Syndrome
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
Sam in her Freshman
Year at UT
Sam in her Sophomore
Year at UT.
Year at UT
Year at UT
Year at UT
On July 23, 2011, Sam celebrated her
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
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
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.
University of Texas has put her in the exact
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
I thank you all so
much for helping me to raise such a
great young lady. RA