Sarah Jome

My hometown when I was a student was

Tiffin, OH

I graduated in


I studied

Major: French

Minor: Music

I currently live in

Bloomington, IL

I am now

I just completed 26 years of working with international students at universities (ending February 2015). I am currently taking a break from full-time employment and am starting to substitute teach and do consulting.

Since graduating from Alma

I got a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University while working at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. Then I was an assistant dean of student life at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. 

After that I began my career working with international students doing immigration advising, orientations, cross-cultural training and programming, etc. I started with four years at Western Illinois University’s international office and then my new husband and I took off for a year of teaching English as a foreign language in Pusan, South Korea. After that I worked for 19 years with international students at Illinois State University in a variety of capacities along the lines of International House Coordinator and Associate Director.  My duties there included such things as immigration advising, cross-cultural training for faculty/staff and students, training programs done in French for mid-level government officials from Africa and Haiti, campus programming, training international teaching assistants, preparing exchange agreements, coordinating scholarships and more.  I just completed a year and a half directing the international office at the University of Illinois Springfield – but the commute was way too difficult for me. Now I am home, substitute teaching and getting ready to launch some consulting.  

My Alma education

gave me opportunities, excitement, challenge, perspective, stretching and kindness. Alma was just right for me. It was far enough from home and everything and everyone was new to me. I had opportunities to be involved in anything I thought might be fun or “good for me.” Study abroad made me excited about life-long learning. It also made me brave enough to try things way outside my comfort zone just to see what could happen. My senior year I took accounting and psych stats, and joined the swim team and softball – these are so far outside my normal areas of talent that my kids love hearing about them and laughing at me about them. I learned that there are never just two sides to an issue and that I need to really experience things outside the norm in order to gain new perspectives and be able to give people the benefit of the doubt. I was able to develop good relationships with faculty and other students. I learned how to learn. I was able to develop several passions that were outside my major.

My favorite place(s) on campus included

rooms in Bruske, McIntyre Mall, library, chapel choir loft, and the top floor of Swanson by the windows.

My favorite professors(s) included

Will Nichols and Dr. Hayward.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is

Just 1? Really?

  • Powder-Puff football – I was on the Bruske Bruisers (1st floor South Bruske, I think) and much of the championship girls basketball team was on it. We were undefeated for two years in a row, we actually had practices and in one game, we made touchdowns on every play.  I played center and had awesome punt snaps. Terri Carver (Carvey?) was the quarterback and Cindy Short was the primary receiver. 
  • Choir (practices, concerts and tours).
  • Wishing I had studied abroad my sophomore year so I would have two years back at Alma afterward — I remember taking classes from Julie Arnold after I returned from France and LOVING them. I felt extra engaged in all my classes after I returned from Europe and I wished I could have had two years of that wonderful-ness instead of that being my last year of college! 
  • I also remember that snowy days were beautiful with lots of sunshine (very different from snowy days in Ohio and central Illinois where it’s brown and gray).
  • Eating in VanDeusen (we called it “VD”) just as it was closing with just choir kids in there goofing around (Hamilton closed before choir got out) was really a blast, too. 
  • SPRING TERM!!! (I did 4 spring terms – yes, even one after I graduated).

What I've been doing with music since I graduated:

I’m still a musician. At Alma, I minored in music, was in the choir every semester and took a couple years of flute lessons. I’ve sung in church choirs ever since I left Alma, I play the piano some at home and I occasionally play the cello. I mostly play the flute, though. I play solos, with small ensembles, for weddings and funerals, as background music for art shows, etc. I’m currently practicing regularly with a clarinetist and bassoonist and we perform once a month at my church. The clarinetist and bassoonist also play in the community band, which I’m now thinking of joining since I’m at home more.

My off-campus study experience(s) included

studying abroad in Paris at L’Alliance Francaise from January to May 1984 with the Alma program and extended my European adventure on a summer travel program studying history, literature and art with a program through Eastern Michigan University. Wow. Life changing. Enlightening. I learned so much about myself and the world – how much I can really do on my own, my limits, personal and national inter-reliance, perceptions of people and places held by others – and why the perceptions exist. And so much more. Having worked beside study abroad offices for so many years I also know that there are many study abroad options and that expense shouldn’t scare anyone away from thinking they can afford it. I now also insist that my kids participate in at least one off-campus study program in their lives.