Sarah Sumadi

Washington New Americans Program Manager, OneAmerica

Sarah Sumadi (BSJ09) spent three years in Argentina where she completed her Master's degree in International Relations through a joint program of FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales) and La Universidad de San Andres. She is now in Seattle, WA where she is the Washington New Americans Program Manager at OneAmerica. OneAmerica is a statewide immigrant and refugee advocacy organization. Sarah assists eligible permanent residents across Washington successully apply to become naturalized U.S. citizens. With a crew of volunteer attorneys, paralegals and interpreters, Sarah holds free clinics to assist clients navigate a challenging legal process. Sarah says "It's rewarding and challenging work, and gives me a close-up view of how immigration policy affects individuals and families."

Sumadi also works on a naturalization policy team along with other citizenship program managers around the country to lobby for changes, like a reduction in the filing fee, that would enable more eligible immigrants to become citizens. In 2015, her citizenship program was awarded "Innovative Program of the Year" from the Seattle Human Services Coalition.

Sumadi received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship in 2011 in Buenos Aires. After completing her Rotary scholarship year, Sumadi started working full-time with EducationUSA in Buenos Aires. "EducationUSA is a global network of State Department-supported educational advising centers for foreign students who want to go to college or grad school in the U.S.," Sumadi explained.  "We help Argentine students research schools, plan out their college applications, and apply for financial aid. We travel all over the country to give talks at high schools and universities about higher ed opportunities in the U.S. I also manage the Spanish language social media outlets for all five EducationUSA centers in Argentina."

After graduation, Sumadi received the Northwestern Public Interest Program fellowship, which places graduating seniors in year-long positions at Chicago non-profit organizations. Sumadi was placed at Center on Halsted, the largest and most comprehensive LGBT community center in the Midwest. She started as a volunteer program director, training and managing 300 active volunteers and she became communications director. “I absolutely loved working at Center on Halsted, and the two years I spent there managing our volunteers and communications efforts confirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in public service,” Sumadi said. “I knew I needed to go back to the classroom - and the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, which funds a year of graduate study abroad, was the answer.”

“Medill taught me how to write well, proofread and make a convincing pitch, invaluable skills for [that] position,” Sumadi said. “A couple of summers as an editorial assistant at a newspaper were equally valuable in teaching me what not to do. Who knew that sifting through all those error-ridden press releases and misguided story pitches would have proved so useful?”