Journalism Alum Going to the Paralympics
By Ryan Wilson
When Ros Dumlao was in Northside College Prep High School in Chicago, she watched as her school’s varsity women’s basketball team won the Public League’s Chicago Conference North title and made it to the state Regional Finals. But they did not make it into her school’s student newspaper, The Hoof Beat.
As a result, Dumlao, who was a member of the junior varsity team and a 2012 graduate of the University of Illinois, felt the team was underappreciated and deserved a spot in the media. So she decided to pursue a career in journalism to cover the teams that are rarely make the news.
That passion for telling the story of under-reported sports was further magnified in her time at Illinois. She covered the cross-country, track and field and volleyball teams for The Daily Illini and wrote feature stories on Olympic and Paralympic athletes. She also built lasting relationships with journalism professors Charles “Stretch” Ledford, Jean McDonald and Lynn Holley.
Now, four years out of Illinois, Dumlao helps tell those previously overlooked stories from across the globe as the editorial coordinator for the International Paralympic Committee. Dumlao oversee the volunteer writing program and the The Paralympian. The Paralympian is a tri-annual magazine that covers Paralympic sports.
Dumlao speaks with Paralympic athletes from around the world, including Zahra Nemati, an Iranian Olympic archer who is paralyzed, and Moran Samuel, an Isreali para-rower. Dumlao has also attended events such as the World Wheelchair Dance Championship.
“I’m doing this (working on the IPC) not for me, but for other people,” Dumlao said. “It’s something better than myself.”
Dumlao lives in Bonn, Germany – the home of the IPC headquarters. It is located on the western side of the country near the Rhine River. She said she is trying to learn the German language, but most people there actually understand English (some kids are taught English starting in the third to fifth grades).
Outside of the country, though, in places such as China where English is not commonly spoken, Dumlao relies on translators to communicate with her sources.
“It’s not that I’m having to go through an SIDs (sports information director) to get an athlete,” Dumlao said. An SID is a public relations worker for college teams. “I’m having to go through a translator to get the words from the athletes.”
Even when Dumlao uses a translator, athletes are willing to open up to her. Samuel shared, in a 40-minute conversation, why she started competing in para-rowing. Samuel used to be a basketball standout for Israel, but then she had a rare spinal stroke, paralyzing her from the chest down. Instead of continuing her career in the sport and playing wheelchair basketball, she decided to play the Paralympic equivalent of rowing.
“That’s why I’m here. You’re writing about people and your just writing about something that makes someone feel alive,” Dumlao said. “I just like that.”
Samuel will compete in the upcoming Paralympics. Dumlao will also be there. She leaves Aug. 30 for the 7- to 10-hour flight.
“I can look back now and say that, a lot of what I learned in journalism was a thanks to the University for the program they had running and a huge thanks to The Daily Illini for giving me that experience,” Dumlao said.
Below, Dumlao at headquarters.