The Lumberjack student newspaper
Photo courtesy of Andrea Juarez. Sam Armanino posing for a head shot with his camera.

Journalism Department remembers Sam Armanino


by Alex Anderson

Sam Armanino was a freelance videographer, editor and photographer who made his living doing what he loved. He wasn’t afraid to put himself in critical positions for his video work, which made his content stand out. A Cal Poly Humboldt journalism graduate and former Lumberjack Editor in Chief, Armanino used the skills he learned in school to chase down his dream. Armanino created content for outdoor sports such as climbing, mountain biking and skiing. He was truly living his dream, but sadly on Aug. 31 Armanino passed away from a mountain biking accident. 

Sam Armanino was truly one of a kind, both in the sense of his creativity but most importantly in how he treated others around him. It did not matter whether he knew you his whole life or one day, Armanino made people feel comfortable, always giving his utmost respect and attention. I remember the first day that I met him, meeting at my brother’s apartment in Arcata, getting ready to go surf. He was so stoked on learning how to surf, buying a fresh longboard and questioning my brother and I for advice that we might have for him. Instantly fitting into the deep bond that I share with my brother, Armanino fit in like family instantly, being silly and pestering me with jokes while flaunting his huge infectious smile. That was Sam. 

He dove into new adventures head on and did the same with learning about those around him. Armanino strove to pull as much as he possibly could out of life, learning more about the people he stumbled upon, their stories and what interested them. He was the embodiment of a humble soul, killing people with genuine kindness and curiosity. I interviewed Sam for a class project in Fall 2022 where he described what drove him into journalism.

“I found journalism and I saw that as something that was really important,” Armanino said. “I really liked talking to people and connecting with people and I have always been a big fan of media. And so my initial thought was to combine recreation administration and the love of the outdoors with journalism.”

Photo courtesy of Mark McKenna. Sam Armanino (center) standing with other photographers.

Vicky Sama, an emeritus professor in the journalism department at Humboldt State University and Armanino’s former advanced video production professor, described how Armanino used his kind energy in and out of the classroom.

“Sam brought positive energy to the classroom and just about everywhere he went,” Sama said. “He combined his passion for the outdoors and journalism and created a career doing what he loved most. He had such a great and young career and so much promise. I’m absolutely crushed to know he is gone.”

Sam was the type of person that would scream louder than you for your accomplishments, a recurring theme that can be seen in many of the videos that he created. A passionate creator and cameraman, Armanino can be heard howling for joy while filming his friends. He was genuinely happy for you. I remember hearing him playfully shouting as I rode waves past him. Few people possess the infectious joy that Armanino embodied. He legitimately wanted to see the people around him succeed and be the best version of themselves, encouraging people to test their abilities. 

Sam lived his life to the absolute fullest, chasing powder days while backcountry skiing and blistering down mountain bike trails. Dedicated to being in the outdoors, chasing the beauty of nature and doing everything he could to avoid a typical desk job. Being outside with his friends was where he belonged and he made a living pursuing his dream of capturing people doing amazing things outdoors. Armanino detailed his desire to thrive and create his own path and how pursuing his dream as a freelance videographer made him happy. 

“I think it’s been a really good way for me to kind of avoid the stereotypical 9 to 5 world, which I just don’t think I could thrive in, that I didn’t thrive in,” Armanino said. “So I think it’s been like a really good creative way to kind of create my own path.”

Armanino was not a typical human being that could be bound to an ordinary career, he was a special breed. His adventurous personality drove him to creating beautiful content and friendships. His friends point to Armanino’s ability to create light in life through his corny jokes, absurd noises, goofy faces and bubbly laugh. He surely has left a positive mark on this planet and will be sorely missed by many. 

Kind words from those who knew Sam 

Vicky Sama – Emeritus Video Production Journalism Professor

Sam was a talented photographer and editor and he would often visit in my office where we would talk about how he could make a living doing the things he loved such as videography, skiing and mountain biking. He made it happen. He was living the dream. He was full of life. It’s so sad he’s gone.

Mark Mckenna – Photojournalism/Video Production Professor 

I will miss those random calls or texts for advice or just to see how I was doing. I will miss seeing the latest instagram post where he nailed it. I will miss him being able to share with current students his talent and passion for life. He was so full of light. I will try to always remember that smile filling up my classroom and his words of encouragement to his fellow students. 

Andrea Juarez – Advising Professor for El Leñador

Sam was a wonderful student and human being. He was kind, easy going and laid back, but no doubt, he was dedicated and serious about his craft. He was eager to learn and try new things. Sam was bold and dared to live as he believed, especially with regard to his love of the outdoors. He certainly knew how to capture beauty with his photos and videos, yet it was his spirit and zest for life that captivated those who knew him.

Garrett Purchio – Librarian at Cal Poly Humboldt

Sam was truly one of a kind. He was incredibly passionate about journalism and his positivity was unmatched. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam and I will miss him dearly. Sam, thank you for your kind spirit and generosity.  

Javier Rojas – former LJ Managing Editor & El Leñador EIC

Ask anyone and they will tell you that Sam was the nicest and most genuine person they ever met. He was one of a kind and will be missed by so many people. Love you Sam.

Miranda Hutch – Class of 2016

He had a perfect balance of drive and adventure. He had a passion for his work that cannot be learned. You just have it. And Sam had it. It’s not fair that the world won’t get to see what else he could have done with more time. 

Katelyn Peakes – Class of 2017

I will miss his random yelling and super sick air guitar skills… He created a career following his passions and was living life to the fullest which we could all aspire to. There was simply no way you could be in a bad mood around him. A great human being and an amazing friend… Much love Sam!

Austin Anderson – Class of 2017

My experiences with Sam will always act as a lens through which I see life; always looking for the good, the fun, and of course for what’s right. Sam’s energy was infectious and if you could key into his wavelength, it truly was a portal to a better place. So sad to see him go, but so proud to have been his friend.

Carmen Pena-Gutierrez

Thank you for being better than kind, more than genuine, and too much of a force to be described in words. Thank you, Sam. Rest easy.

Zachary Sibek

Sam not only met life’s biggest moments with a fearless smile, he was present in the quiet moments. Truly absorbing life and ultimately embodying an example all of us can work towards. Rest in Peace Sam. You are loved and you are missed so dearly. 

Tessa lance

Sam was one of my first friends at humboldt, he made me feel like I was in the right place. I’ll never forget his ridiculous smile and over the top wave whenever he skated by and am so grateful for all the beers we shared. I love you Sam.

Anne Maher

I will always remember Sam for his exceptional drive to live life exactly the way he wanted to. He truly loved life, and moved through it with unbounded positivity and creativity. 

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