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I Belong: Meet Sam


Sam and her pup, Sassy!

Meet Sam (she/her) | Senior TAC Coordinator


My legal name is Samantha, but I prefer Sam (she/her). I was born in Orange County, CA but basically grew up in “Little Arabia.” Let me tell you why I say that. I am Palestinian and Catholic. Growing up, Middle Eastern friends and family surrounded me; I shopped in Middle Eastern stores, spoke only Arabic, ate Middle Eastern food, watched TV in Arabic, and went to a Middle Eastern Church. I love my culture but knew I was missing much more.


I began my first American Elementary School and was quickly exposed to different cultures, beliefs, values, sexual orientations, etc., and I felt scared but excited. When I went home from school, my family told me I wasn’t allowed to hang out with the people I met, I shouldn’t believe anything people said, and at times, even the teachers were wrong. It felt terrible because I loved school and learning. The teachers were kind, but the kids at school were not. They made fun of my accent, how I dressed, and the food I ate. Years passed, feeling like I didn’t fit in, so I decided to focus on school and work and tried hard to be like everyone else in my family.


During college, I met someone who encouraged me to be me. She was patient and wanted to learn who I was. We spent hours discussing me - what I wanted to do in life, my relationships, what I liked to do, and who I wanted to be around. I knew I loved being around her, but being anything other than heterosexual was wrong, according to my family, friends, and everything I learned growing up. She introduced me to LGBTQ+ and its meaning, and I met her friends and family. They were so free, open, and loving. I realized I am bisexual and decided to be in a relationship with her. Being around her family and friends made me feel free and gave me a sense of belonging. Although it was scary, and my family was unsupportive about my relationship, I moved to Arizona and started a new chapter of life with her.

Sam's pup, Sassy, in her Pride bikini 🥰

I started working for PetSmart in November 2021, and my supervisor and entire team immediately made me feel supported, loved, and safe being myself. Working for PetSmart, I conduct several phone interviews, which allow me to tell candidates about the Associate Resource Groups, how I feel like I fit in here, and why. Last year, I shared my coming-out story during a PAW event, which was riveting and frightening. I knew there was a possibility that some may be in a similar situation I was in, and I wanted everyone to understand that no matter what background you come from, PetSmart is for you, and you’re not alone.


 


The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspectives, and a way to build connections to each other.

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