Covering the wall next to 17-year-old Sam Saintizaire’s bed is a collection of over 100 photos of friends and family smiling out from their 5×7 frames. For Saintizaire, putting a smile on people faces day in and day out is a personal goal.
“I like taking care of people,” he says. “I want them to know that they have my back and I have theirs.”
Now after being elected the 114th Mayor of Boys Town, Saintizaire has a lot more backs to watch. He serves as the voice of each and every student across the campus. As a part of his duties, Saintizaire attends village board meetings with administrators. Interacting with adults in such a business-like setting may be intimidating to some young people, but not Saintizaire. Just one way he has honed his people skills is by welcoming and assisting guests in the Boys Town visitor’s center.
When he isn’t giving tours or attending to schoolwork, Saintizaire has a dizzying schedule that revolves around his year-round commitment to sports—basketball, football, track, and baseball. He also serves on the student council and hopes to make the National Honor Society next school year. Saintizaire has been the recipient of Boys Town’s Competing with Character award, an honor that recognizes a student exemplifying high character while participating in sporting events.
Originally from Florida, the warm weather native had to get accustomed not only to brutal Nebraska winters, but also to a community with high standards and higher expectations, ones that were going to push him to fulfill his most ambitious potential.
“I was getting into trouble,” Saintizaire says in a solemn tone. “Not going to school. Disrespecting my parents.”
He cites his dad as one of his biggest role models, and he is working to make his family back in Florida proud. They moved to the United States from Haiti when he was five, and his dad sacrificed his education and worked multiple jobs to get them here. Now after being in Omaha for three years, Saintizaire is setting an example for his three younger siblings back home, and has big hopes for the future.
One of his constituencies is the group of students attending the campus middle school. Mayor Saintizaire has launched an initiative to push the idea that middle school sports teams be allowed to play at least one game a year on the high school field. Besides delivering a sense of “the big time” to his younger peers, the move is aimed at bringing the campus together on every level.
The plan is a reflection of Saintizaire’s career goals for the senior-to-be. After graduating next May, Saintizaire wants to pursue college football and a career in athletic training.
“I want to work with kids,” he adds, “I want to make sure they always stay safe.”