City Commissioner names fellowship after late Temple student

Commissioner Omar Sabir hopes Samuel Collington’s legacy as an intern for his office lives on.

A six-month-long democracy fellowship for Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir is dedicated to former intern and Temple student Samuel Collington. | THERESA COLLINGTON / COURTESY

City Commissioner Omar Sabir renamed the office’s democracy fellowship program as the Samuel S Collington Democracy Fellowship to honor Collington, a senior political science major who was fatally shot on Nov. 28, 2021, on Park Avenue near Susquehanna. 

Prior to his death, Collington worked as an intern in Sabir’s office, where he wrote letters to constituents, worked in research and analytics and helped with project management.

The fellowship positions are six months long and educate students on election procedures, voter education and outreach initiatives while working directly with community leaders and elected officials, Sabir said. 

Fellows are assigned to an area of focus during the program which include administration and office management, communications, constituent services, government relations and project management and event support.

“It’s not your typical internship or fellowship, where you’re going to be basically just behind a desk typing on a computer,” Sabir said. “You’re actually engaged in the community and you’re talking to constituents and doing everything that a worker that works in elections would do.” 

The fellowship has a rolling start date, so students can still apply. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college or university at the start of their fellowship or graduated college or high school within two years of the start date, Sabir said.

The program is unpaid and requires at least 10 hours of in-person work per week, and students may be able to get college credits for their fellowship, Sabir said. 

Sabir encourages college students who have an interest in government work to apply and hopes to add remote fellowship opportunities to accommodate conditions caused by the pandemic, which will allow more students to be accepted. 

Students can apply for the fellowship through City Commissioner Sabir’s Facebook page and the Temple political science newsletter and Facebook page. 

After Collington’s death in November, friends, family and community members came together to celebrate his life at a candlelight vigil in Delaware County, on Dec. 2, 2021.

“We knew 100 percent after the vigil in Delaware County that we wanted to honor his legacy in this way,” Sabir said. “After the vigil I mean, meeting the family, seeing the impact he had on the community, it was finalized after the vigil for sure.”

Collington’s friends and family feel that this fellowship is an ideal way to honor his life as someone who was dedicated to creating change in his community. 

“This is probably the best thing you could do for Sam,” said Daniel Previti, a senior risk management and economics major and a friend of Collington. “This fellowship is literally the embodiment of everything he stood for.” 

Previti recalls how Collington made him register to vote and taught him that activism is not just performative and that the government can be used as a tool to fix society. He remembers Collington as someone who taught others how to believe in something and defend it tirelessly. 

Interning at Sabir’s office was a perfect fit for Collington because he was extremely passionate about politics and voter turnout, said Dennis Collington, Sam Collington’s father.

“Sam was president of his graduating class from high school,” said Molly Collington, Sam Collington’s mother. “In his speech, he recommended that his fellow classmates go out and find something that you’re fanatical about, and Sam’s was politics, that was his passion, that was his fever.”

Sabir and the City Commissioner’s office hope to see students who are just as passionate as Collington was about making a difference apply for this fellowship to carry on Collington’s legacy. 

“It’s important that Sam’s life is not taken for granted,” Sabir said. “He had a contribution and an amazing life that needs to be lived on and pushed on.”

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