Senior Profiles: Sally Nuamah: Advocating for those without a voice

Sally Nuamah considered herself an advocate before coming to college, but she wasn’t able to anticipate how politically energized GW was before her freshman year.

Nuamah, a first-generation American, grew up in Chicago, Ill., where she attended a “very diverse Chicago public school,” she said, and advocated for the addition of African American and Latino American Studies to the high school curriculum.

“The seeds of activism were definitely there in high school, but they grew during my time at GW,” she said.

Nuamah was involved with the Black Student Union, interned for then-Senator Barack Obama, worked in the Student Association, completed research in Ghana and is now creating a scholarship program for future students.

Next year she will begin to pursue a Ph.D. in political science and public policy at Northwestern University.

Nuamah became involved in the Black Student Union, because it gave her the ability “to speak to students all over campus and administrators on what we thought would help make the campus more inclusive.” This year, Nuamah was elected co-president.

Nuamah said she her internship for Obama sparked her interest in public policy rather than politics.

“Instead of working as a staffer on Capitol Hill or running for office, I realized I was more interested in the research aspect, drafting and advocating for policies at the national level,” she said.

In 2009, Nuamah received the Benjamin A. Gilman Award for independent study, giving her the resources to study abroad and conduct research in Ghana that year.

To study images of African American women, she interviewed professors, high school students and other community members in Ghana, compiling hours of film records.

In the middle of this spring semester, after being awarded a fellowship from the Office of the Vice President for Research, she returned to Ghana to look at privilege disparities among female high school students. She hopes to continue along these lines of research while at Northwestern.

“I want to research important social issues and look at how those important social issues inform public policy making,” she said. “With the proper research on education, health policy and other critical social issues, we can draft policy that actually positively impacts people affected by these policies every day.”

Inspired by her own experience as a scholarship recipient, Nuamah is now looking into creating a scholarship program of her own for college students, although at this point she is still unsure of the details of the potential program.

She funded her education at GW through state scholarships and other scholarships, including the National Coca Cola Scholarship and the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship.

“These were critical to allowing me to experience all of these wonderful things that are happening to me at GW,” she said.

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