A series of fortunate events led Sarah Dixit to Spokane and the work she does with community outreach at Planned Parenthood of Eastern Washington and the work she continues to do for advocacy and social justice.
Her work has been recognized with the 2022 YWCA Young Woman of Achievement Award. Dixit, and the other Women of Achievement award winners will be honored at a luncheon Thursday at the Davenport Grand.
Dixit grew up in Pasadena, California, as the youngest of three children born to parents who immigrated to the United States from India in the 1980s. The city is perhaps best known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl and parade. “We went to the Rose parade every year,” she said.
In high school, she was considering multiple colleges. Her Advanced Placement literature teacher had attended Whitworth University. “She always spoke very highly of it,” she said.
She applied and was accepted. She narrowed her options to Whitworth or New York University, but when she went on a spring break work trip to Nicaragua with a nonprofit organization her senior year, she still hadn’t decided. “I had always known I wanted to do something different than California,” she said.
On the last day of the trip, she met someone who was a student at Whitworth, which Dixit said felt “very random.”
“I just took that as a sign from the universe,” she said.
She arrived in Spokane in 2014 and quickly settled in. She was originally on the pre-medicine track but found the classes didn’t inspire her passion. Someone gave her advice that she took to heart, telling her that anger wasn’t a bad emotion and it just showed what you were passionate about. And what made her angry were her sociology classes, particularly one on the education system that illustrated how disparities in tax base and funding affected the quality of education for students. “There’s a lot of ways our system is built against people just depending on where they live,” she said.
She decided she wanted to have an impact on social change by doing nonprofit advocacy work. While still a student, she created a campus chapter of General Action, a reproductive rights club run by students. She also volunteered for Communities in Schools at Rogers High School.
Two weeks after she graduated with a degree in sociology, she got a job as a community organizer for Planned Parenthood, working at community events and working on getting out the vote for the 2016 elections.
Last September, she became the organization’s public affairs manager. In addition to her work with community events, she also works with the media, managing both the Youth Empowerment Program for high school students and the college advocacy program. She’s lobbied the state legislature to approve laws expanding access to health care and to protect immigrants from warrantless searches.
Dixit also serves as the co-chair of the Spokane chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition.
Dixit said she’s enjoying all the various aspects of her job, including education and advocacy, and plans to let her experience guide what she does in her future career. Since she’s only in her mid 20’s, Dixit said she feels like she’s still exploring how to have the most impact.
She was surprised to learn about the YWCA award, Dixit said. “I felt like this was a reflection of everyone who has supported me,” she said.
While she’s not used to being the focus of a lot of attention, Dixit is very much looking forward to meeting the other Women of Achievement award winners at the recognition luncheon. “It’ll be exciting,” she said.