International Women’s Day is a globally recognized day to celebrate all the achievements done by women whether it be social, economic, cultural, or political. This day is a time to reflect on the progress made for women’s rights as well as a time to call for action on policies and customs that create inequality for women and girls around the world. To celebrate International Women’s Day this year we at Semester at Sea wanted to highlight some notable women who once sailed as a student and are now making a global impact!
Charu Sharma (SU10, Maymester 11), Cofounder and President of OsanaSalud
“Semester at Sea changed my life! The travels and the shipboard community created many encounters of serendipity, random acts of kindness and profound human connection for me. It truly instilled a certain faith and abundance mindset in me, which helped me take risks in my life over and over again. I may not have been an entrepreneur without this faith and risk appetite. I live in Silicon Valley and I have been building startups for a decade now. Today, I am Cofounder & President of Osana Salud, a high-growth health tech startup. We serve over 6 million patients, $27M in funding and 100+ employees. I also helped start a $10M venture capital fund that invests in diverse startup teams solving big global challenges.”
Sadie Rumsey (SP18), Logistics Coordinator at Edesia
“Before my experience with Semester at Sea, I thought I had a pretty good idea of my plan for my life and career. When I returned 104 days and 11 countries later, my outlook on the world had changed forever, along with any plans I thought I had. The many experiences I had during my time at SAS, from volunteering at a school in rural southern China to a homestay with a local family in Ghana, had shown me that the most beautiful element of each part of the world was not the nature or the monuments as I thought it might be, but rather the people. I began searching out opportunities to get involved in the humanitarian sector, and two months after returning home from SAS I was fortunate enough to find a position at Edesia Nutrition, a non-profit manufacturer of ready-to-use foods used for treating malnutrition in the world‚Äôs most vulnerable populations. As a logistics coordinator at Edesia, I have the thrilling and sometimes very intense task of coordinating international shipments for our NGO partners to countries all over the world. Most importantly, every day I get to be a part of Edesia‚Äôs mission to end global hunger and malnutrition. I am grateful to SAS every day for providing the experiences that taught me so much about myself and shaped my vision for my own future. Those once-in-a-lifetime experiences have led me to a career where I am fulfilled, feel I am able to make a difference in the world each day, and can help respond to one of the largest and most important humanitarian crises in history.”
Minalee Madanayake (FA17), Flimmaker and Wildlife Euthusiast
“I‚Äôm a filmmaker and wildlife enthusiast and during lockdown I decided to work on an idea that I had, which was to turn my fathers jungle stories into a comic book series. Growing up, I loved hearing the jungle stories my father shared with me. It made me yearn for this magical place. I wanted to share these stories in a fun and creative way. The series is called Tea Time Stories and it is a mixture of comic illustrations and real-life photographs from exciting experiences from around Sri Lanka. I want Tea Time Stories to help kids fall in love with the jungles like I did, encourages them to want to help protect it and to understand that the jungle has so much more to offer. My long term goal for this project is to turn it into an animated tv series. You can check out the Instagram page for my comic book series and a Tiktok about my story.”
Mandie Davis (SP07), Founder of Worthy of Love
Mary “Mandie” Davis, affectionally known by the Worthy of Love community as Sista Mary, and her husband Ari Kadin, first met as volunteers in Downtown Los Angeles‚Äô Skid Row.¬† Their volunteer efforts opened their eyes to the enormity of the housing crises in Los Angeles witnessing the vast number of unhoused families and, in particular, meeting children experiencing homelessness was an experience that changed them both. In 2013, Mary and Ari founded Worthy of Love to help unhoused families and children feel connected, valued, and loved. Every month since, they have held a festive and joyous birthday party for thousands of children experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
“Semester at Sea changed my life. It was truly an honor to travel the world with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the spring of 2007. He taught me how to look at the world differently. Tutu said to treat everyone you meet like a brother or sister and every child like your own. This advice led me to impact over 10,000 children experiencing homelessness. After SAS I visited Los Angeles and was devastated by the homelessness crisis in Skid Row. I moved to LA to help my brothers, sisters and children. I’m grateful for Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his inspiration and the impact that Semester at Sea made on my life.”
Lauren Lizewski (SP15), Contractor at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Lauren Lizewski works as a contractor (Medical Sciences and Computing) at the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Within the VRC, Lauren works with a team conducting Phase 1 clinical trials in the Clinical Trials Program (CTP). Yes, lots of acronyms in the public sector! Over the last few years she has worked in quality management, clinical monitoring and pharmacovigilance. What she enjoys most is the global aspects of her work, like working on a Zika vaccine trial in South America and Ebola monoclonal antibody trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of the CTP’s most notable accomplishments of late is completing the Phase 1 clinical trial for the Moderna mrna-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. It has been eight years since Lauren stepped off the MV Explorer, but she says it feels like yesterday in some ways.¬† She has been a member of the SAS Young Alumni Council since her college graduation and always has an eye out for opportunities to reunite with shipmates and jump on SAS events, especially those at sea!
Hilary Gorlin (SP13), Director of Corporate Communications with the Portland Trail Blazers NBA team
“I grew up loving sports – I even did a project for my mass communications class on SAS about baseball in Japan. I was heavily involved in sports and activities on the ship including basketball, dodgeball, ping pong and planning/being captain for the Sea Olympics! After I graduated from college, I moved out to Portland, Oregon for a job with a PR agency. In 2016, I got a job as part-time Corporate Communications Coordinator with the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA, and I‚Äôve since worked my way up to Director of Corporate Communications after six years. In my position I handle all external and internal communications needs for the team and venues, including concerts we host in our two arenas. I‚Äôve had the extreme joy of meeting dozens of artists that come through our venues including Billy Joel, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and many more. Semester at Sea opened my eyes to how global sports truly are. Every single stop along the way, sports were super prevalent – from baseball in Japan to watching kids playing soccer in Ghana and watching a cricket match in India. Sports bring people together all over the world and I‚Äôm so thankful I got to experience that through SAS.”
Erika Shinoda (FA19), Program Director
“I am in Japan and have been launching a new education program for middle school and high school students. This program is about finding their passion, loving their hometown, and gaining experience of starting their own projects from scratch. It has been a great success involving 25 local students, 15 college students as mentors, 17 new projects in the city, and over 100 local people! These numbers might seem small, but they are actually huge in such a small country-side town I currently live in.”
Anina Monteforte (FA16), Founder of The World Within Us
“I had the incredible privilege of traveling with Semester at Sea on the Fall 2016 voyage. It was single-handedly the best decision I ever made. For me, the voyage never ended. Since 2016, I have traveled to 48 countries and simultaneously completed my Masters in Global Affairs, International Development at NYU. It led me to combine my expertise and passion for travel to launch “The World Within Us”, a sustainable travel organization that curates group trips to Tanzania, Egypt, Guatemala, Fiji, Brazil. Each trip prioritizes climate action, empowering women, and economically supporting local communities most affected by COVID-19. This past year, I’m proud to share that we were able to sustainably distribute 580 solar lights in rural areas of Tanzania and sponsor 90 young girls in Egypt to learn self-defense. My advice for all women is to do everything with intention, integrity, and purpose; from there, anything can grow! I want to wish all the incredible women worldwide a very happy international women’s day!”
Jennifer Lyons (FA03), Owner of Lyons Creative
“I sailed on the Fall 2003 voyage. Today, I own Lyons Creative, a Seattle-based creative agency, and I’m also the Chief Communications Officer for Carry the Future. Carry the Future is an all-volunteer run, grassroots nonprofit organization that provides critical aid to refugee families across the world. We mobilize a group of dedicated volunteers around the world to provide diapers, food, hygiene items, blankets, and more to families along their unimaginable journeys. This includes Afghan refugees arriving in the United States, displaced persons in Yemen, and, most recently, Ukrainian refugees. Semester at Sea played a huge role in my developing an empathy-based worldview. Through our travels, I learned to see more commonalities than differences among humankind, a perspective that’s incredibly important while working with refugee families–refugee families are just like our own families, except life dealt them a much tougher hand. They want the same things we all do: a safe place to raise their families and the opportunity for a happy life.”
Susie Lambesis (FA18) – Luna Bay’s Brand Coordinator
“After graduation in 2020, I became a Sales and Marketing intern and the fifth employee at a hard kombucha start-up called Luna Bay Booch. I was quickly thrown into the heavily male dominated industry of Alcohol. Most buyers, reps, chain leads and¬†¬†production teams are made up of men. Just over two years later, I am Luna Bay’s Brand Coordinator and manage all things social media, marketing, events and partnerships. Pitching our female founded brands to mostly male executives and decision makers brings a set of challenges, but Luna Bay prides ourselves on making it clear that we are a force to be reckoned with! I have learned so much in my experiences with this company, from maintaining my composure when a beer buyer questions my alcohol industry knowledge as a young female or learning how to shake intimidation when I log onto a Zoom meeting and am the only female in the room. I’ve always been passionate about women empowerment, but getting to see the lack of gender diversity in my industry has inspired me to be even louder about my passion.”
Thank you to all the incredible women who have shared their stories! No matter where you are in your journey we want to celebrate women across the world on this International Women’s Day!