Updated: Jan. 7, 2019 at 1:29 p.m.
At least three alumni were featured on Forbes 30 Under 30 lists last month for leading in the fields of education and Hollywood and entertainment.
Tara Dorfman – Hollywood and entertainment
Tara Dorfman, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications in 2011, grabbed a spot on the Hollywood and entertainment list.
Dorfman is a talent agent at Creative Arts Agency in Los Angeles, where she works with comedians like Vir Das and helped the co-founders of Reductress, a satirical women’s magazine, land a Comedy Central show.
Her job entails reading manuscripts, tracking trends and weighing in on content, and Dorfman cited an investigative journalism class she took at GW as the best preparation for her career.
“Asking questions and making people feel heard and understood is something I do now and certainly something I did in that class. Spending time with a story is something I did in that class and something I encourage my clients to do in their writing,” Dorfman said.
Dorfman said she was shocked to be considered for a list as “prestigious” as Forbes 30 Under 30.
“I think that when you hear about something as exciting as a Forbes write-up, your first instinct is to drown in imposter syndrome for a little bit,” Dorfman said. “For a minute you’re like ‘oh wow, I don’t know if I deserve this.’”
But Dorfman said she is grateful and believes her work to amplify her clients’ work – which can be more fun and lighthearted – is needed now more than ever.
“I think we need to talk about heavier things, but at the end of the day we need to find some light in the darkness,” Dorfman said. “I think some of the people that I work with are working to make life a little more manageable for people and comedy has always been able to do that.”
Sally Nuamah – Education
Sally Nuamah, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2011, filled a spot in the field of education.
Nuamah’s award-winning documentary “HerStory” follows three Ghanian girls on their quest to pursue higher education and her organization, TWII Foundation, awards scholarships to low-income girls in Ghana to complete college degrees.
Nuamah – who also sits on the Board of Trustees – studied abroad in her family’s native Ghana to learn more about her origins during her sophomore year. She said the trip ignited her passion for her career.
She returned to Ghana for the following five years to finish her documentary, which began as a Gilman Scholarship research project. Once it was completed in 2014, many of the girls she had gotten to know were still unable to complete school, which inspired Nuamah to create the TWII Foundation.
“I just got really enthralled with this idea that if my parents hadn’t migrated to the United States, then many of these girls could’ve been me, and I could’ve been personally a part of this struggle to be able to go to school everyday – [but I] had a chance to live a different life,” Nuamah said.
Nuamah now works with more than 30 girls in the foundation’s scholarship program, covering not only their tuition, but also their transportation, meals and equipment needs while getting to know each girl on a personal level.
“People may not have those traditional support systems, and we try to intervene and become that unconditional support-system for those people,” she said. “I try to get to know each and every one of them, so that I’m aware of what they need when they need it and then try to provide it for them.”
Nuamah has used the proceeds from her documentary and individual donations to fund the foundation along with grants from the Ford Foundation and film royalties from the Discovery Channel.
She has since then divided her focus between Ghana and issues closer to home, namely school closures and their racial and political implications. Born and raised in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago, Nuamah said she sees her education as the difference between what her life is now and what it could have been.
“For me it’s really an issue or a question of if we really care about ensuring that people’s life outcomes are different than the way that they came into this world,” she said.
Stephanie Sharp – Education
Stephanie Sharp, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication in 2012, also snagged a spot on the education list.
Sharp is a program analyst for the Overdeck Family Foundation, which aims to increase the quality of childhood education in and out of the classroom. The foundation works organizations including those that provide after-school STEM opportunities and conduct education research.
The Overdeck Family Foundation has also funded grantees that focus on teaching parents how to continue their child’s education at home. One of the organizations, ParentsTogether, is a Facebook messenger group comprised of parents who share advice on different teaching styles and their personal experiences with early impact education.
Sharp’s work in education stemmed from her experience working for Teach For America where she taught Pre-K to kids in Baltimore.
“My experience with Teach For America showed me just how privileged you can be without even realizing it,” Sharp said. “It’s crazy how an area code can shape a student’s access to good education.”
In the future, Sharp said she plans to continue her work in education for the Overdeck Family Foundation and work with companies that can expand her knowledge of what children need in a modern education system.
This post was updated to reflect the following clarification:
The Hatchet updated language in this article to clarify the mission of the Overdeck Family Foundation and provide information about the organizations it works with.