When Eva D’Ambrosio (‘02) looks back at her time at Sycamore School, she, like many graduates, remembers teachers, friendships, and how she was prepared for high school.
“And I think the difference at Sycamore is high expectations, not for performance necessarily, but for potential,” she says. “We were always treated like we were capable of understanding complex concepts.”
What is different about D’Ambrosio is the direction her life took after school was done.
Her path has taken her to Washington DC, and now to Turkey, where she works internationally as the Vice Consul at the US Embassy in Ankara.
It was at Indiana University that the former Sycamore student learned the Turkish language in addition to majoring in Economics, providing a unique skill set for her current position. She also interned at the State Department while at IU.
“I was a Wells Scholar, which opened a lot of doors for me in terms of meeting interesting visitors to campus, as well as giving me great academic support,” she says. “While at IU, I interned with the State Department, which solidified my interest in representing the U.S. abroad. I took the Foreign Service exam as soon as I was eligible, at age 20.”
As a Vice Consul, D’Ambrosio serves as an official representative of of the United States, assisting and protecting the citizens of US citizens who are in Turkey. The office also helps facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the Turkey and the US.
After graduating from IU, Eva didn’t waste much time in moving into her current role.
“I was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai, India where I was an Economic Reporting Officer,” she says. “After that I was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey where I currently work as the assistant to our Ambassador, John Bass.”
Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computers (who was taking his high school equivalency exam at age eight and making computers out of his dorm room at age 18) once told Fortune magazine that you should “try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people or find a different room.”
D’Ambrosio echoes those thoughts.
“If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room,” she says. “Being surrounded by such bright classmates at Sycamore was humbling, and taught me that it's not just brains that matter - it's curiosity, kindness, and creativity. I loved team projects like Science Olympiad. I learned about sentence diagramming and algebra, but also about impressionism and dystopias.
“I remember discussing whether machines could be truly creative. Though I often brought down the class average grade-wise, I was always made to feel like I had something valuable to contribute to the conversation.”
D’Ambrosio started at Sycamore in 1st grade, and continued all the way through graduation. It was her love of the small classes and individual support that she says was integral in her development.
“I remember singing songs with Miss Sandy, a field trip to the Falls of the Ohio, and being co-Pythia with Kara Findley during the Greek mythology unit in 5th grade,” she remembers.
“When I was struggling with math, Paula Jurgonski's patient one-on-one attention made a huge difference in my eventual understanding,” D’Ambrosio says. “Mrs. Prince's art classes gave me profound appreciation for art not just as personal expression, but as a product of history and culture.”
As she remembers her time at Sycamore, one class in particular seems to stand apart from the others, and has guided her post-Sycamore life.
“Mr. Stroebel's history classes were foundational for my understanding of international affairs. I am still grateful to him for allowing us to watch the news in his classroom on September 11th, 2001. He said that this day would likely define my generation like President Kennedy's assassination defined his. He was right.”
D’Ambrosio was one of just a few students over the past 30 years who decided to attend Broad Ripple High School after graduating from Sycamore. She was able to get involved on multiple levels at the school, leading to a diversified resume, especially for someone who wasn’t yet out of high school.
“Broad Ripple was very different experience from Sycamore. Sycamore gave me such a solid academic background that in high school I could really focus on my extracurricular activities. I was in Broad Ripple's theater program, was the captain of the soccer team, and helped publish a literary magazine. I also had an internship with the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis, which led to my interest in the Foreign Service and my current job as a U.S. diplomat.”
When asked if she stays connected to many of her longtime friends from her days at Sycamore, Eva is quick to answer.
“Oh yes, we stay in touch and I still love them all. I'm especially close with William Huster, Neil Shah, Alexandra Cochrane, David Sledge, Kara Findley, Caty Green, Kirstie Reinecke, Rickpaul Dhindsa, Laura Marcus, Fletcher Heisler, and many more!”
As far as her next job within government, D’Ambrosio says she knows only the short term future.
“In the Foreign Service we work on 1 to 3 year assignments. In September I will move back to DC where I will work with the Office of the Trade Representative on trade agreements with South and Central Asia,” D’Ambrosio says.
“After that? Who knows?”