Samantha Sol Bownes was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and raised in Memphis. Her mother María Bownes is of Spanish and Mexican descent, and her late father Bert Bownes was Irish-American. She attended Ridgeway High School, where she was a mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister program and helped organize a blood drive.
During her junior year at CBU, after watching an inspiring documentary by the non-profit humanitarian group Invisible Children, Samantha become involved in humanitarian work. She is now the founder and president of Visible Campus, a CBU student group that collects books for schools in Uganda. Also, she is the chairperson of the CBU chapter of Beta Beta Beta, a national biology honor society. In this capacity she has organized the annual Bowlathon for Uganda, a benefit for the Ugandan non-profit organization Hope North. She is also helping to form a new program to encourage first- and second-year students involved in community service and humanitarian work. For her accomplishments, CBU has honored her as a Lasallian Fellow.
Samantha is a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity at CBU and enjoys spending time with her sorority sisters. She lives with her mother in Memphis and spends much time with her family.
In the Memphis community she is the local manager of the small, grassroots, non-profit group Arudo Yat, which sells jewelry, handmade by Ugandans, to fund schooling and medical expenses of children in Uganda. She has also done much volunteer work for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis Trauma Department.
Samantha is working on a bachelor's degree in biology at CBU. After graduation in May 2012, she will take a year off to prepare for the Medical College Admission Test. Her goal is to attend the University of Tennessee Medical School and concentrate in emergency medicine. She is inspired by groups such as Doctors Without Borders, and it is her aspiration is to work in humanitarian emergency aid.