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Sam Kanig: TCNJ Community Fellow in Residence 2018-2019

The College of New Jersey’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research is excited to introduce its inaugural Community Fellow in Residence, Sam Kanig. Sam has been a leader in the Latinx community in Trenton for more than a decade. He was the founding president of the Puerto Rican Civic Association, he was the founder of Galería Casa Cultura, and has been central in building connections across the Latinx community in Trenton.

During the fall semester, Sam has worked with three TCNJ faculty members on projects that highlight the contributions the Puerto Rican community has made, and continues to make, to Trenton and the region. Susan Ryan, Communications Studies, has partnered her class with Sam on a video documentary project. “Sam has been an invaluable resource for the community documentary class this semester,” Dr. Ryan says. “He’s given the students tremendous insight into the Puerto Rican community in Trenton and has worked diligently to set up video shoots with important musicians and artists living in Trenton. His participation and generosity with the students have made the class a success.”

Ann Warner-Ault, World Languages and Cultures, expressed her enthusiasm about having Sam in this role. “TCNJ is lucky to have Sam as our first Community Fellow. He knows Trenton inside and out and is constantly working to help Trenton residents — from organizing food drives at the holidays to coordinating community efforts to help Puerto Ricans on the island post-Maria… I can’t wait to see where this collaboration will take us!”

Isabel Kentengian, also World Languages and Cultures, said that “Sam’s visit to our SPA216 Current Events class to talk about the dire situation in Puerto Rico energized the students. The devastation caused to Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria after an already fragile situation caused by years of economic neglect now had a human face and advocate. Students commented on how he has inspired them to get involved in causes they care about and not stay on the sidelines.”

Sam with Dr. Susan Ryan and Documentary Video students.

In addition to these courses, Sam is meeting with faculty and staff to develop projects and plans for the spring semester, culminating in an end-of-semester event that highlights his partnership with TCNJ students, faculty, and staff. He is also advising Bonner Community Scholars staff and students for a trip to Puerto Rico this January.

In his role as Community Fellow in Residence, Sam is available to meet with campus community members to develop projects and learn more each other’s work, to meet with classes as a guest speaker or presenter, and to partner with campus community members and offices on any relevant community- or campus-based activity linking TCNJ and the Trenton/Ewing community. He can be contacted at

To support this work, Sam receives a year-long stipend and a modest programming budget. Housed in TCNJ’s Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research, the Community Fellow receives administrative support, workspace, and institutional affiliation through the CELR Center. This position is funded through a Strategic Initiative grant from TCNJ’s Committee on Strategic Planning and Priorities, and was a recommendation included in the President’s Advisory Commission on Social Justice of 2017.


About the Community Fellow in Residence program:

As part of the College’s efforts to engage in richer ways with the Trenton/Ewing community, and as a program of the Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research (CELR Center), the Community Fellow supports the mission and values of TCNJ and the CELR Center through the development of programming, partnerships, and projects that build on the Fellow’s passions, knowledge, and experience.

The purposes of this program are:

  • to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between Trenton/Ewing community members and organizations and TCNJ students, faculty, and staff;
  • to provide an opportunity for TCNJ students, faculty, and staff to learn from, and contribute to, the Fellow’s experience and knowledge around a particular issue and/or project;
  • to create a network of TCNJ and Trenton/Ewing resident leaders committed to building stronger ties among the TCNJ, Trenton, and Ewing communities; and
  • to provide an opportunity for Trenton/Ewing resident leaders to be a part of the academic and social fabric of TCNJ.

Questions about the position should be directed to Michael Nordquist, Executive Director of the CELR Center, 609.771.2731,