Run for Students
Professor Sam Pierstorff's Journey to Support Students
If you haven’t heard of David Goggins, know this: He is “savage.” He “takes souls.” His story of triumph is a story that begins in the mind. Goggins went from being a 300lb exterminator who experienced racism, tremendous abuse, and deep depression to becoming an elite Navy Seal
who is now considered one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world . . . and he has a challenge: Run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours on 3/5-3/7.
But who would be crazy enough to try that? Enter English Professor Sam Pierstorff.
Who is this guy?
For 20 years, Professor Pierstorff has taught at Modesto Junior College. His success in the classroom and his contributions to the community led him to receiving MJC’s highest faculty honor: The 2020 Purdy Award. But he is not done yet.
Two years ago, Professor Pierstorff had a homeless student in his class whose adversity seemed insurmountable despite the student’s enthusiasm to learn and to finish school in order to have a better life. The student slept in his car and stayed late in the MJC library because he could not risk taking his laptop into a shelter or he was sure it’d be stolen. He worked as a dishwasher, but wasn’t able to pay his car insurance or afford books. He struggled to make ends meet, but he continued to show up to class and work hard.
Origins of the Pirates’ Micro Grant Program
Through Professor Pierstorff’s efforts and with the extraordinary help of friends and a glorious community, he was able to raise several thousand dollars, the bulk of which he donated to his homeless student and the rest of which was given to the MJC Foundation to begin what is now called the Pirates Micro-Grant Program or “Compassion Grants”—a fund that was created for the neediest students at MJC to motivate them to continue their academic journey and to let them know we have their backs.
The reality is these students—homeless or downtrodden, an electrical bill away from darkness, students with broken glasses who can’t see the board or screen—these are the students who need a little lift, someone to say we see you, we care about you, and we now have a way to help you.
Their adversity is our adversity. Their success is our success.
Professor Pierstorff will be taking on David Goggins’ 4x4x48 Challenge, running every 4 hours for 4 miles at a time for 48 consecutive hours . . . in order to raise money for MJC’s Micro-Grant Program in order to continue to offer these compassion grants.
Although he’s been athletic in his 40s (i.e. American Ninja Warrior), at 45 now, Professor Pierstorff is not a runner. He started training for his first (and only) marathon in 2019. But he knows that this challenge is more about mindset and motivation, and in order to finish the challenge, he will need to run for something bigger than himself. So he’s running for students.
How can I help?
Help us motivate Professor Pierstorff to run, to not give up, to dig deep when it hurts and when he doesn’t want to wake up to do it all over again. This is often exactly how students feel when they start college. So let’s help them realize that their adversity is their strength. Their struggle is worthwhile. Their challenges are very real, but with the support of others and a positive mindset, they can reach their fullest potential.
Please consider a donation of $4 or $48 dollars or any fun variation on 4 x 4 x 48.
100% of all donations received will go into the Pirates’ Micro-Grant Program to help the neediest students at Modesto Junior College.