Telling a simple story led to some unusual places for Samantha Lint, ’14.

This summer, the junior became the voice of college students wary about loan debt and eager to avoid a doubling of the interest rate scheduled to happen last July.

“My story wasn’t so different from anyone else’s,” Lint says. “In high school I was led to believe that the way college and financial aid worked was somehow reflective of a meritocracy. If I worked hard, things would work out.”

As Lint and her family navigated the financial aid process, they witnessed firsthand the complexity of the system and the potential constraints debt can place on families and students with loans. Lint strongly believed that doubling the interest rate due to congressional inaction would exacerbate the situation for many college students.

Lint, for instance, is weighing whether to go straight to law school or to enter the workforce first to pay down her loans. This summer’s impasse on the interest rates could have led to a significant increase in how much she would owe on interest for future loans.

Her story may not be atypical of many college students, but it was compelling enough that the media chose her when putting a face on the issue. After an Associated Press reporter wrote about Lint at a Campus Progress lobby day, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm invited her to be a guest on Current TV’s “War Room.” ABC also filmed her talking about student debt.

Then she got an email from the White House.

Lint had barely embraced her role as a “talking head” before she was invited to meet with President Barack Obama and stand behind him with other students at a press conference calling for Congress to act before interest rates on federal undergraduate student loans doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent.

“It was incredible. It was overwhelming and also it was really surreal at the time,” Lint describes. “You kind of think. Whoa, is this really happening?”

What’s even more incredible is that Lint’s advocacy work and slew of media appearances were just one of her side projects. She actually went to Washington, D.C. for an unpaid internship with the National Women’s Law Center. At her day job as an outreach intern, she helped the nonprofit distribute research and reports to policymakers.

“Our office was very supportive in letting interns attend other trainings and conferences and events throughout summer,” Lint explains. Because of that, she could combine her interests in policy and women’s advocacy.

At Richmond, Lint minors in women, gender, and sexuality studies and takes part in the Women Involved in Living and Learning (WILL) program.

“That was the lens I was working through this summer,” Lint says of her WILL background. “I didn’t just see student debt as an issue for students, but as an issue particularly for women students. Entering the workforce, I’ll make less.”

Lint credits the Bonner Scholars Program with encouraging her to seek out ways to serve in the summer and also for supporting her commitment to engagement. She was able to take advantage of the unpaid internship and the opportunities it provided with a stipend for summer service.

“It was an insane summer,” Lint says. “I got to meet the president and do all these amazing events and learn so much about policymaking and the current issues. Without this opportunity, I probably would have worked a summer job that I would have been less passionate about. It was an invaluable chance to explore my interests, learn a ton, and hopefully make an impact.”