Senior Ryan Sudo on Navigating the World, From Minnesota to D.C. and Beyond

Ryan Sudo
SFS, Class of 2017, Regional and Comparative Studies
Forest Lake, Minnesota
Language: Mandarin Chinese and Spanish
Proseminar: Imperialism and Resistance with Prof. Maria Louise Wagner
Study Abroad: Beijing, China, in Summer 2014
On-Campus Activities:
Superfood A Capella
Georgetown Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD)
Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society
Non-GU Activities:
Department of Justice, Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (Intern)
SNAP Outreach Volunteer for the D.C. Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar (Intern)



May 1, 2017
by Aislinn McNiece

Forest Lake, Minnesota, native Ryan Sudo (SFS’17) will be graduating with a range of impressive experiences under his belt, from spending a summer conducting research around the world to starting to study and gaining proficiency in the Chinese language. Sudo majored in Regional and Comparative Studies, focusing on Asia and Latin America, while also participating in a range of activities outside the classroom.

“I’ve made too many good memories on this campus to pick just one, but I’ll always think back fondly on the experiences I’ve had here that wouldn’t have been possible back in Minnesota. During my four years I’ve sung with Gladys Knight on the Kennedy Center stage, seen Bernie Sanders explain his political ideology in Gaston Hall, and received funding to travel to six different countries to conduct field research. There’s no other place in the world where all of these things are possible, and I’m definitely going to miss having access to so much opportunity once I graduate.”

However, Sudo did not come to Georgetown planning to conduct his undergraduate experience in exactly the way he did. He explained that his idea of success changed markedly from his freshman year to his senior year.

Learning to see my childhood in Minnesota, my introvertedness, my unique skills, and all the other parts of my identity as positives, rather than obstacles that needed to be discarded, was an important step towards finding a footing here and helping me realize what I really wanted to get out of my Georgetown experience.”

And with that attitude, Sudo leapt at numerous opportunities during his Georgetown experience. For one, with the help of his dean, he spent the summer of 2016 traveling the world and conducting independent research with the Circumnavigator’s Grant.

“I can’t speak highly enough about Dean Lisa Gordinier in the School of Foreign Service. During the summer of 2016, when I received a research grant to study indigenous education policy and faced the daunting task of travelling to six different countries and circumnavigating the world in 82 days, Dean Gordinier helped me tackle the challenge and supported me every step of the way. When a ‘super-typhoon’ was about to hit Taiwan, where I conducted research in late July, she emailed me to make sure I had heard about the weather and was taking necessary precautions. When I presented my research findings to the scholarship committee on Homecoming in September, she was there in the audience and made the experience a little less intimidating. Georgetown academia can be intimidating at times, but Dean Gordinier has made the process easier for me and I can’t thank her enough for it!”

In addition to his research around the world, Sudo has spent valuable time off-campus, albeit a bit closer to Georgetown. He first broke the Georgetown bubble during his freshman spring semester, when he volunteered at a free tax clinic through SNAP outreach to help D.C. residents apply for food stamps.

“Although waking up at 7 a.m. every Saturday was a challenge at times, it was an invaluable opportunity to interact with other members of the D.C. community and remind myself that there are ways I can extend the knowledge I’ve gained at Georgetown beyond the four walls of campus.”

While Sudo’s experiences outside of the classroom from places like Ecuador, Peru, Norway, and Taiwan to the heart of Washington, D.C. have been remarkable, he also has fond memories of his time on campus.

Some of my favorite classes have been in the Chinese Department at Georgetown, where the team of ten or so professors makes a daunting language accessible and rewarding to learn. I started Chinese at Georgetown with little to no knowledge of the language, and being able to graduate at a level where I can talk about North Korea’s nuclear program or the 2016 US presidential election [in Chinese] has been very rewarding.”

But if he could do it again, Sudo would have some sage advice for his freshman self: “Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed! There is so much going at Georgetown and in D.C. that it seems silly not to try and be a part of all of it, but I have found that it is much more fulfilling to do 2 or 3 things very well than to try balancing 8 all at once.”

Entering his next chapter, it is not the extraordinary so much as the ordinary that Sudo will miss the most.

Of course I’m going to miss the people. I have been incredibly fortunate to spend the past four years alongside so many individuals who have fostered both my personal and my intellectual development, and although I know that the support of the Georgetown community will be with me no matter where I go, it will definitely be hard to leave campus and start a new chapter where I don’t get to see my friends and mentors on a daily basis.”

And though he’ll always be a Hoya, Sudo’s next chapter will take him far from Washington, D.C. He’ll be going back to Taipei, Taiwan, where he spent part of his past summer for his Circumnavigator’s Grant research, to study Mandarin at National Chengchi University and hopefully “break the world record for most soup dumplings consumed in a year.”