2019 SIS Woman of the Year: Ali DeLambo '20

Her Campus American University's 2018 Woman of the Year for the School of International Service is Ali DeLambo. We had the opportunity to sit down with Ali and discuss her engagement with the community, goals for the university, plans for the future and more. 

Her Campus American University: Why don't we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself?

Ali DeLambo: I am a sophomore in SIS with a possible double major/minor in French studies and my thematic areas of study are in International Development and Environmental Sustainability. I am from Charleston, South Carolina, specifically an island outside Charleston called Isle Palms and I am on the executive board of GUIDE which is essentially the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for all of Greek life. 

HCAU: Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement in Greek life and the LGBTQ mentorship program?

AD: In my sorority, there was always a bit of tension if people were willing to openly come out as LGBTQ. There was always a stigma surrounding LGBTQ members in Greek life and I saw this especially where I'm from in the south. With my position on the executive board of GUIDE, my best friend and I founded the LGBTQ mentorship program which fosters a supportive community for LGBTQ Greek members. 

HCAU: Tell us about your time working in the international development field.

AD: I work for KeyLime consulting which is an international development consulting company. I am really interested in international development and humanitarian aid so I tried to find something that was an intersection between development, environmental sustainability and humanitarian aid so I could further my interests outside of school. We help assist other organizations to acquire US aid and grants in order to find international development projects. 

HCAU: Can you speak about your time last summer working for an NGO in Guatemala?

AD: I volunteered for La Choza Chula on the rural Pacific coast. The region is economically unsustainable because the only part of their economy that brings in money is their small tourism bubble, which barely exists anyway. This organization helps sell clothing and lead tours through their region and within that financial sphere, they only employ women and assist women in finding sustainable employment. This region definitely has classic gender role social hierarchies so there aren't very many opportunities for women to seek out and acquire for themselves. With this employment and money, the organization runs financial literacy and environmental sustainability programs for the women in public schools as well.

HCAU: Your nomination for this award discussed your commitment to equality. Can you discuss why this has been a goal of yours and also how you've worked to do this on and off campus?

AD: Coming from the south, I faced issues coming from a public high school in the bible belt. There was one 'out' LGBTQ person that I knew and the only LGBTQ support club in school received a lot of hate and backlash from the student body. In high school, I will admit I didn't have the courage to do anything about it, but after coming to D.C. my confidence grew and I wanted to step up and help foster equality through programs in Greek life and on campus. 

HCAU: What are your plans for after graduation?

AD: Honestly I don't know yet and I might be graduating early so that's exciting. Eventually, I'd like to go to law school but if I can get a job in International Development before another four years of school, that would be ideal. There are a lot of different opportunities in D.C. so I would be interested in working in Sub-Saharan Africa. I looked into Mercy Corps because they have a productive reputation and I want to steer clear of any companies with a record of voluntourism. 

HCAU: What was your reaction when you found out you had been chosen for this award? What does being Women of the Year mean to you?

AD: I was really shocked since the only person I knew who got this award was a senior. I think within SIS, international development kind of gets swept under the rug, so I'm glad my field of study can be recognized on a larger platform and scale.

HCAU: Your supervisor actually submitted a very lengthy and well thought out nomination for you, and it spoke volumes to HCAU when choosing SIS WOTY, what is your relationship like with your supervisor?

AD: My supervisor and I are pretty close and I was the youngest intern he's taken in, so there was a lot of pressure on me going into the job. This opportunity opened both of our eyes because I never really had this much responsibility and he never put this much responsibility on an intern with minimal experience. We both learned to trust people who are totally different from you and it fostered an inclusive work environment and productive professional relationship. 

On behalf of Her Campus at American University and the entire American University community, we would like to thank Ali DeLambo for everything she has done to advance equality and inclusivity on our campus.

Photo Credit: Halle Jaymes