Sara Kim ’86

2022 Distinguished Alumna of the Year

First presented in 1978, the Scripps College Distinguished Alumna Award was established to celebrate the notable achievements of Scripps alumnae and to focus attention on Scripps’ role in the education of women. The award is presented each year during Reunion Weekend. Read about past recipients here.

Sara Kim ’86 was born in Chicago, raised in Seoul, Korea, and returned to the United States as a young adult. After majoring in international relations at Scripps, she pursued a master’s degree in international affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Her studies led to an eight-year journey at the World Bank as a researcher in the population, health, and nutrition sector. Teaching researchers the value of the dawning World Wide Web sparked a passion in education. Sara subsequently earned a PhD in education at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. Her dissertation focused on how medical students acquired complex concepts, which led to a faculty position at the UW School of Medicine. Apart from a two-year period when she led the Instructional Design and Technology Unit at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Sara has dedicated her career to UW as a medical educator. She currently serves as associate dean for Educational Quality Improvement, overseeing the medical school’s accreditation. As the George G. B. Bilsten Endowed Professor in the Art of Communication with Peers and Patients in the UW Department of Surgery, Sara has developed and delivered training in resolving interpersonal conflict in healthcare settings. She has taken her training as far as Hungary and Saudi Arabia, and publishes her collaborative work in leading academic journals. She also volunteers as a mediator at the Dispute Resolution Center of King County in Washington. Sara comes from a Claremont legacy family including graduates of Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pomona, and Claremont Graduate University. She credits Scripps and the late ProfessorJim Gould, her advisor at Scripps, for instilling the passion for lifelong learning. She also thanks her parents, Sun Ha and Kui Nam Kim, for their loving support. Sara is an avid hiker and a novice tai chi practitioner.