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Kirsten Willer

Kirsten Willer, '17

Helping refugees rebuild their lives

"Kirsten! I got the job!" Ahmed said excitedly as he walked into the offices of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on my last day of work this past summer.

I had frequently worked with him in the IRC's Matching Grant employment program, and he had been recently hired as an electrician. I had helped him refine his resume, attend a job fair, submit his job application, and draft follow-up letters, so I had been by his side through the entire process of finding this job.

Through the Spirituality, Service, and Social Change Fellowship, I interned at the IRC in San Jose. The IRC provides essential services to refugees and asylees in the first 90 days after their arrival in the United States. Throughout the summer, I got to offer my support to many people, like Ahmed, as they rebuilt their lives in the United States.

Although finishing my fellowship was bittersweet, I feel incredibly grateful for the experience. Now I'm considering attending law school so that I can help demystify the legal aspects and challenges of the immigration and resettlement process for other refugees, asylees, and immigrants. Working at the IRC was an invaluable experience, in terms of both learning about the immigration system and witnessing the resilience of the human spirit.

Kirsten Willer, '17, majored in international relations.
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