Alumni Corner

sarah-ali.jpgSarah Ali graduated from the Honors College in 2008, sold her car and moved to Palestine with the “hope of finding a job!”  Though her first adventure was short-lived and she returned to the U.S. for a few months, she has “no regrets” about the choices she made in that “rocky first year.”  “Sometimes, and especially in your twenties,” she writes, “you really need to make risky moves and follow your passions.” Though offered a position – in many ways her “dream job” - in a congressional office on Capitol Hill (after a short temporary position) Sarah declined the offer and flew to Beirut, Lebanon, where she found a job paying $10 an hour.  Though living “paycheck to paycheck” Sarah was living on her own terms.  Two years later, she accepted a position to teach at an international school in Erbil, Iraq, where she met her husband.  She then pursued her master’s degree in Arab Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; she graduated in 2014.

Sarah’s education and experience eventually landed her a position as a Business Development Specialist for the East Asia Pacific sub region at Catholic Relief Services, a position she loves.  Her job entails working together with country teams in the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste and the Pacific Islands to “design projects that support the most poor and vulnerable people in society in ways that are sustainable and dignified.”  Sarah helps to design the projects and translate them into “winning proposals” so that they can win funding for implementation. 

Unfortunately, Sarah transitioned to this position just as COVID-19 hit, which delayed her move to the Philippines.  She and her family had already vacated their apartment and put all their belongings on a ship to Manila when they received word of the delay.  Somehow, Sarah (along with her husband and two young children) have been able to take this all in stride.  They are riding out the pandemic in an Air B&B in Baltimore, Maryland and are focused on the “silver linings: living in a familiar area with a big backyard and lots of grass, and (hopefully) spending the upcoming holidays with the grandparents.”  Still working from “home” in Maryland does have its challenges: “As much as I love having calls with the teams,” she says, “I don’t love doing it late into the night!” (There is at least a 12-hour time difference!) In addition, she really misses that feeling of teamwork and the collaborative problem solving that is intrinsic to the job and easier to accomplish in-person. That being said, Sarah knows she is blessed and feels quite lucky that her kids and husband “have been able to thrive” through the pandemic thus far.  They do hope to get to Manila eventually, pull their things out of storage and “resume the expat life” they love so much.

Click here to learn more about Sarah and what advice she has to offer today's undergrads.

If you're interested in being featured in an alumni blog, please contact our Department Chair Dr. Hollis France.

See our alumni features in The College Today's series "I Want Your Job!":

Michelle Bloom C'13 - White House Intern
Nicholas Glover C'05 - Business Expansion Leader
Caroline Horres C'12 - Political Risk Analyst
Michael Huberman C'10 - Development Coordinator for ESPN Films
Anna Meacham C'07 - Director of PR at J.McLaughlin
Matthew McClellan C'08 - Special Assistant U.S. Attorney

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