Samantha Ross grew up in Idaho and Washington, the oldest of five siblings. Her father was a landscape architect and her mother was a homemaker. Samantha helped her father in his landscape business year-round. In 1989, she enlisted in the Army as an 88N (transportation coordinator), and in Basic Training she encountered the diversity of the Army. Simultaneously, she was attending the University of Washington, participating in the ROTC program while majoring in Psychology. She was force-branched Engineers, but decided to make the best of the situation. Her first two assignments were overseas in Germany and in Korea. She returned to Ft. Lewis to command Headquarters and Headquarters Company in the 14th Engineers (Combat) before receiving an assignment to teach in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point. During her assignment at the Academy, the Superintendent, LTG William Lennox, asked her if West Point had a problem with sexual assault. She replied that there was a problem, and he empowered her to create a SHARP (Sexual Harassment & Assault Response & Prevention) program at West Point. In the early days (circa 2005-2007), there were no systems in place, and very little capability beyond recording victim / survivor statements. Her next assignment was in the New York District Army Corps of Engineers office, followed by a deployment to Afghanistan, where she worked for the Afghan Engineer District South. Returning to the United States, her final assignment was as the Professor of Military Science at the University at Albany. After retiring in 2014, she returned to West Point, where she became the Program Manager for the SHARP Program.
In this interview, she talks about her childhood, her experiences in the Army, and the evolution of the SHARP program at West Point. She discusses her passion for psychology and her focus on Behaviorism and Mental Health, which she was able to channel into her work at the Academy. She highlights how the SHARP program has changed from its inception to today, and notes that attitudes are changing across the Corps and within the Staff and Faculty, while she also acknowledging the challenges West Point faces. She reflects upon her own personal experiences in the Army, and how they shaped the leader she is. Finally, she describes the “promise” of West Point as she prepares for the next chapter in her life.