Meet a spring grad who's already helping people at the U.S.-Mexico border

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How did you decide to come to Illinois and to study Human Development and Family Studies?

I owe it to Illinois Promise for believing in me and giving me the grand opportunity to attend Illinois. I was a psychology major when I first enrolled but my I-Promise mentor, Staci Provezis, suggested that I look into Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) because it seemed like a better fit, and it was! Staci was my mentor for three years, and we met every two weeks and then every once in a while since our schedules became busy. She helped me with recommendations, how to write cover letters, how to network, and how to navigate myself as a first-generation student. I am so thankful for her mentorship and leading me in the right direction. HDFS is an amazing department and all the professors care about their students’ well-being and success.

You have done a lot of work in the community. What inspires you to give back and advocate in the community? What has been one of the most rewarding things you have done in your advocacy?

It is important to advocate for your community and help them in any way you can because if you don’t—who will? One of the most rewarding things I have done thus far is raising $600 for Bridge of Love Across the Border, a volunteer-based organization located in Chula Vista, California that started just last November when the migrant caravans began their journeys for asylum. I recently visited the head organizer and with the money, we bought underwear, socks, and shoes for children, women, and men. These are necessities that are hardly ever donated new.

When raising these funds, I wanted to raise awareness of the hardships these families face in order to escape their home countries. A lot of them face environmental injustice, human rights abuses, gang violence, and many more tragic things. Often times when they are making the journey to Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border, they are wearing the same underwear they started with. I wanted to show them that I, along with many other people, cared for them because when they reach Mexico or the U.S., they are met with violence and resistance.

Carolina buys supplies in California for families seeking asylum at the Mexico-U.S. border. Photo courtesy of Carolina Kuhl

 How has being a scholarship recipient shaped your undergraduate experience?

Being a recipient of the Illinois-Promise Scholarship rewarded me with unforgettable experiences and knowledge that I would have never gotten had I chosen to attend a different institution or community college back home.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What will you do during that time?

I hope to gain experience in the field of social work, working for a nonprofit that works with youth. I hope to enroll in graduate school for a master’s in social work.