Meet Samuel Walley, '20: US Army Veteran & Ralph Colley Spirit of North Georgia Awardee

Posted: November 16, 2021 by Larry Morton*

Samuel and his wife, Hannah

Samuel Walley, of Winder, GA, graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Political Science degree in May of 2020. In April of this year, Samuel was honored by the University of North Georgia Alumni Association as the 2020 recipient of the Ralph Colley Spirit of North Georgia Award.

The University of North Georgia Alumni Association presents the Ralph Colley Spirit of North Georgia Award annually to an alumnus who has experienced adverse circumstances in his or her life and has risen above those circumstances to live an exemplary life. Ralph Colley, UNG '66, lost three limbs to a land mine in Vietnam. He was the award's first recipient.

Before coming to UNG, Samuel was in the Army – he enlisted right after high school. "I decided instead that I wanted to go the enlisted route. I immediately enlisted into the US Army Infantry and ended up going to airborne school," said Samuel. "Then I moved into the 82ndAirborne and eventually deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan."

We asked Samuel what sparked his interest in the study of political science and related studies. "I had absolutely no interest in politics until I had to start to deal with it," said Samuel. "The higher level of dealing with Colonels and Generals, you see that politics do influence military actions on the ground."

Samuel told us that he was given a tour of Capitol Hill and that he met several politicians. "I got to see that there wasn't this severe hatred that you see on TV between parties and seeing them be so friendly with each other, gave me a little bit of motivation," he said. "And really at the end of the day, I wanted to make a change in the veteran community, and I saw that politics would be a great way to do that," said Samuel.

We asked Samuel why he chose UNG. "I really wanted to go to UNG, it obviously being a very military friendly school," said Samuel. "Everybody here was helpful to me. It is just one of the best military friendly schools, not just for cadets, but also for veterans."

We asked Samuel what was something memorable about the PSIA department and his time at UNG. "When going into my major classes, they made me enjoy learning again," said Samuel. "That's really what the department did for me."

Samuel shared some thoughts with us directed at faculty, future and current students. "To all faculty and staff, thank you for everything you have done," he said. "Don't give up, and even though you may have a failure here and there, you have to keep pushing through. You're going to be proud of yourself for not quitting."

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