Sam Risby strongly believes that you should learn from every environment and he’s currently doing a lot of his learning in PACE’s Organizational Leadership program.
Following high school, Sam started college at Illinois State University in 1989, but his experience there was not quite what it should have been. “I was focused on things other than education,” he said. Changing majors and trying to work soon left him feeling like he wasn’t going in the right direction. He left school in 1994 and began working full-time at various jobs. He eventually was hired by Illinois Power where he worked for over 2 years until he learned his job would be eliminated due to the Dynegy buyout. Sam came to work at Millikin University in Human Resources for the next year and a half then took a job with Ameren.
Throughout this time, Sam and his soon-to-be-wife Carol spent a lot of time trying to figure out a path to better themselves. Sam would tell Carol to stay on him about going back to school. He was getting the same “finish your education” pressure from his supervisors at work. After Sam and Carol were married, they decided it was the ideal time for him to return to school and the PACE program was perfect for his work schedule.
The most enjoyable part of the PACE program for Sam is his cohort. He loves the bonds that have been created and says he misses the other cohort members during school breaks in the summer and over the holidays. “The experiences each person has really brings value to the program,” says Sam.
Being in the PACE program has provided Sam with some personal insight. He says he’s learning how to listen better to others. An easy-going, natural talker, Sam says he always wants everyone in his group to jump in and participate, but he’s learned that people participate in their own way and he has come to respect those differences. Sam also says that through PACE he has learned his strengths and weaknesses and works hard to deemphasize the weaknesses and focus on his strengths.
For anyone considering PACE, Sam would say that anytime a person is trying to better himself for his own approval, it’s good to reach out to a program like PACE. He thinks people should take advantage of an accelerated program like PACE to advance their education while continuing to work. “If people say they don’t have time to do a program like PACE, then they don’t really want to do it. You can always find time to do what’s important to you,” says Sam.
When asked about his dream job following graduation (sometime in 2009), Sam says he’s not really thinking in those terms. He likes to focus on taking what he’s learned from PACE and other parts of his life and putting them together to create different avenues. His goal is to learn from every environment. According to Sam, if you’re not happy where you are, then you need to create your own reality. He can see himself doing something entrepreneurial that would help others, such as a life coach, but he hasn’t ruled out pursuing an MBA or going to law school. Sam also plans to do his part to give back to his hometown Decatur.