Jennifer Vasquez-Merino, a first-generation, junior, political science major at Albright College, is a passionate advocate for underserved populations. With her sights set on law school and a career in immigration law, Jennifer is already taking on equity and inclusion challenges on her college campus and the wider community. While promoting inclusion as a member of several administrative and student councils, Jennifer is serving detained immigrant families through an internship with a local immigration attorney. And yet, she somehow still finds time to conduct in-depth undergraduate research on inequities that face immigrants and their communities, especially during a global pandemic. Her selection as a Newman Fellow will allow her to continue the impact she is making and show her that her voice can make a difference as we work toward a more equitable and just world.
Growing up, I witnessed the drive, resilience, and work ethic of the immigrant community. Their vulnerability and susceptibility to unjust treatment fuels my motivation in everything that I do. I am president of the Hispanic Culture Club and the International Student Association where my focus is promoting the diversity, equity, and inclusion of all students on our campus. Off campus, I work at a non-profit organization that provides legal services to detained immigrants, where I have the pleasure of working with families from all over the world. Additionally, I have been working on a research project with a professor examining the impact that COVID-19, detention, deportation, and status uncertainty have on immigrant communities. We will share our findings with anyone working to improve the lives of immigrants and their communities. This work affirms my drive to become an immigration attorney and defend the rights of those who are so vulnerable. As a first-generation college student, Mexican-American woman, I hope to leave my mark by empowering this community that inspires me through their strength and dedication for a better tomorrow. More than anything, what keeps me going is the question that I repeat to myself everyday: “If not me, then who?”