Shelbyville’s Sam Shammas Finds the Perfect Fit in SJC

May 5, 2014

When Shelbyville High School’s Samir “Sam” Shammas narrowed his list of prospective colleges down to three, Saint Joseph’s College was not on it. A chance meeting with SJC Head Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach Reggie Sanderson changed everything.

A singles player on Shelbyville’s varsity tennis team, Shammas faced Sanderson’s son Luke, who has committed to play tennis at the United States Air Force Academy, in a tennis tournament. Sanderson approached Shammas and his family following the match and asked him about his college plans. Shammas shared that he had narrowed his list down to three colleges, but Sanderson convinced him to visit SJC before making a decision. One week later, Shammas and his parents arrived at SJC for a visit.

“My parents and I received a very warm welcome from the Office of Admissions, and we had a great tour of campus,” said Shammas. “I learned about the Core Program and really liked the idea of an education with a worldwide perspective.”

The Shammas’s then received a tour of the Hanson Recreation Center and met members of the tennis team and their parents.

“My parents and I had a great experience at SJC, and we immediately scheduled a follow-up visit that also went very well.”

Following his visits to SJC, Shammas developed a pros and cons list for all of the colleges he was considering, and after sharing it with his parents and high school guidance counselor, he found that SJC had the most pros. He spoke to Sanderson one more time to discuss how he would fit in with the tennis team, and it was then that he decided SJC was the right place for him to start the next chapter of his life.

“My experiences with SJC have been very positive, and I am excited to meet new people that may become lifelong friends,” said Shammas. “I will work hard to compete academically and athletically, and I hope to be a good representative of SJC.”

Born and raised in Shelbyville, Ind., Shammas has U.S./Kuwait dual citizenship. His father is from Kuwait and has five siblings who live there with their families. Shammas’ parents and sister lived in Kuwait several times, and he traveled with his dad to Kuwait for Christmas. While there, he had the opportunity to play tennis with multiple ranked members of a professional club.

The son of Basem and Jill Shammas, Shammas did not start playing tennis until the summer prior to his freshman year in high school despite his dad being a high school tennis coach.

“My dad tried getting me to play tennis for several years, and when I finally started, it clicked. I wish I would have started sooner because I have found a passion for the game. I look forward to improving my game under Coach Sanderson and my teammates.”

Named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation, a "Best Midwestern College" by the Princeton Review, and “Best Value” and "Best Midwestern College" by US News & World Report, Saint Joseph's College is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 35 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of nearly 1,200 students.

#    #    #


Explore the Core
  • SJC Education Students in the field

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Professor Fred and Sally Berger at Graduation


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

  • High Quality Academics

    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Visiting Chinese Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Hoop House student workers

    Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Images of Students

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Images of Students


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • Images of Students

    High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.


  • Images of Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Images of Students

    Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.