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Samantha Lai

Photo Courtesy of Samantha Lai

Campus Event Launches a Career for Samantha Lai '17

Back in 2015, Samantha Lai was just a sophomore, like many Stony Brook students focused on her classes. She was finding the curriculum comprehensive and rewarding, but even so, she knew that she could benefit from branching out. “Even with as much knowledge as I was getting, without practical experience there was something lacking,” she thought.

She connected with the Stony Brook University Career Center which, every year, hosts dozens of events to help students find that experience.  At one such event, a panel of employers eager to hire from SBU, she learned about the Career Center’s longstanding partner YAI, a nonprofit organization serving people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. This fit with Samantha’s interest in people’s health and wellbeing. Among other opportunities, YAI offered per diem positions – jobs that pay by the day, making it easier for busy students to work while balancing their academic responsibilities.

Samantha went on to major in health science, concentrating in disability studies and human development, and through her job she gained hands-on work experience. She graduated from Stony Brook in 2017. And then that experience and her hard work paid off: YAI promoted her. And then they promoted her again! Now, she is the supervisor of one of the organization’s residential group homes.

“I never expected that, almost four years later, I would be still be working for YAI. I am grateful because of how much they have taught me, and for seeing potential in me when I was just a student looking for some experience,” Samantha says.


YAI is a New York-based organization employing over 4,000 people and supporting more than 20,000 clients. It is also one of Stony Brook University’s key recruiting partners . To learn more about YAI and career opportunities there, visit

Stony Brook University , widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is one of America’s most dynamic public universities, a center of academic excellence and an internationally recognized research institution that is changing the world. After more than 60 years of existence, it’s ranked among the top 100 universities in the nation and the top 40 public universities.

The Career Center goes far beyond to strategically educate Stony Brook University talent about, prepare them for, and connect them with the needs of industry. To learn more about their services for students, alumni, and employers, contact them , or visit them online at .