Sally Sarmiento

Commencement: Fall 2014, Ceremony 1

Degree: Bachelor’s, Public Relations

Graduate of: School of Journalism and Mass Communication

At 11, Sally Sarmiento and her family were forced to immigrate to the United States after falling victim to guerrillas in her native Colombia. They were victims of extortion, shootings and targeted for an attempted kidnapping.

 In the U.S., they moved in with family in Orlando. Conditions were cramped. Sally, her parents and her younger sister all slept on the same inflatable bed. After four months, they moved to an apartment with no furniture in a very poor neighborhood.

To make ends meet, Sally’s parents, who were undocumented, worked as a housekeeper and bus boy.  Soon, her mother was arrested by immigration authorities. While she was in detention for four days, Sally cared for her younger sister. Her father used the savings they had to pay for a lawyer.  Ultimately, they were all able to gain political asylum. Sally is graduating with a bachelor’s in public relations, against all odds. During her first semester, Sally slept on a family friend’s couch and spent most of her days at the school’s library. She worked throughout her entire schooling, and at times had to take time off.  It took her eight years, but her drive to finish pushed her forward.

Under the mentorship of Professor Lynne Farber, Sally is now president of the Public Relations Student Society of America, works as a marketing communications intern at Sony Music US Latin and is a member of the Kappa Tau Alpha honor society. After graduation she plans to pursue a job in her field.