We are pleased to announce that former CLAS intern, Sandy Lackmann, has been awarded a $12,000 Arts and Science Undergraduate Research Scholarship for her honors thesis. Congratulations Sandy! Sandy explains:
My name is Sandy Lackmann, and I’m a third year student double majoring in International Studies and Spanish and minoring in Human Rights. I recently won a $12,000 Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Scholarship for my honors thesis, titled “Advocacy or Abuse? The role of U.S. immigration law in the lives of asylum-seeking Central American women.” I have benefitted from the guidance of my fantastic advisor, Dr. Kendra McSweeney.
While debate on the viability of immigration in this country is commonplace in the media, I believe that it is imperative to document not only the struggles of immigrants in their home country but also the obstacles they face upon entering the U.S. immigration legal system. My research will document the process by which immigrants, particularly those fleeing domestic violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle, which includes Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. I will specifically explore the degree to which these women are vulnerable the following problems is immigration processing: (1) lack of access to adequate translation services, (2) lack of access to clear information about the law and each immigrant’s rights under the law, and (3) a lack of low and pro-bono legal representation.
This summer, I will be interning with the legal team at Ayuda-VA, a Falls Church immigration and refugee agency dedicated to providing low and pro-bono services to immigrants and refugees in the Virginia-DC-Maryland area. I’m hoping to tie in my previous experience, a summer of interning with the legal team at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in Raleigh, North Carolina, with my work at Ayuda to better understand the plight of immigrant women. I am fortunate that my areas of study and research coincide with my future career goals of being an immigration attorney specializing in asylum for victims of domestic violence and unaccompanied minors.