Student Opportunities

2005 border picture courtesy of Fr. Daniel Groody.

Center for Social Concerns

The Center for Social Concerns offers courses for students interested in pursuing transformational learning experiences related to immigration. Find out about:

International Summer Service Learning Program
Summer Service Learning Program
Border Issues seminar
Migrant seminar
Holy Cross seminars

Students Working on the Immigration Issue

International Summer Service Learning Program

Michael McKenna 1 [photo]

Michael McKenna

Name: Michael McKenna
Graduation year: 2008
Major: Anthropology and Peace Studies
Hometown: Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

In the summer of 2005, I participated in the International Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns at the site in Tijuana, Mexico where I worked with migrants at La Casa del Migrante, an experience that genuinely changed my life in terms of my plans during college and for career.

Michael McKenna 2 [photo]The following Winter Break I participated in the Border Issues Seminar in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, that took me to many organizations working on immigrant issues, from legal aid clinics to shelters for undocumented migrants, and women's rights agencies.

During the summer of 2006, I worked with Christina Aborlleile, Esq., an immigration lawyer in Philadelphia who has one of the largest Spanish-speaking clientele in the area. I have continued working with her on subsequent breaks. Most recently, I have worked with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants as a government relations intern during the spring 2007 semester.

Michael McKenna 3 [photo]In August 2007, I spent 2 weeks in Ecuador studying Colombian migration to Ecuador, but also talked to many of the NGOs who work with the huge emigrant population there.

After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school for Foreign Affairs and get a master’s in either public policy or international relations, then join the Foreign Service with the U.S. Department of State as part of the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship for foreign affairs.

As a diplomat, I hope to continue working on human rights issues, especially in the theme of migration and the rights of immigrants and refugees.

Prisma Garcia [photo]

Prisma Garcia

Name: Prisma Garcia
Graduation year: 2009
Major/minor: Science-Business, Latino Studies
Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Both my father and my mother were born in Mexico. My father was born in San Luis Potosi and my mother in Cuidad Mante Tamaulipas. They came to the United States in need of a better future that they could not find in their own country. My father crossed over to the US at age 16 on his own to work in California and eventually Texas. My mother came to the US a few years later. They faced a struggle to survive in their country and thought that by migrating to the US they would find what they were looking for. Sadly, the struggle often continued in the US with discrimination and language and cultural barriers. They hoped to provide for their families because of the great need of employment and money. I believe my parents wanted to be able to give their own family an education and a healthy life. After years, the future they expected was granted to then by their hard work. Yet, the struggle transformed them from adolescents to adults, something that I will always be grateful for. Their courage and strength continues to amaze me.

Prisma Garcia [photo]During the summer of 2006, I participated in the International Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns. I worked with migrant men in Tijuana, Mexico at the Casa del Migrante. I also participated in the Border Issues Winter Seminar in Ciudad Juarez. Both experiences put a face to the person who is sometimes labeled as an alien or illegal. During my time in Tijuana, I heard stories very much like that of my father’s. I found that despite the migrants’ situation, they did not lack inspiration and hope for the future. It was through such experiences that I have learned to appreciate my culture and seek out my roots. In the future, I hope to help achieve solutions for social problems and injustices and continue to be the voice of those who often are not heard.

Excerpts from Prisma's academic writing journal and final paper for the ISSLP:

Prisma Garcia [photo]"I feel as if many people do not understand why Mexicans as well as other Latin Americans migrate into the U.S.  What as once a line in the dirt is now guarded with troops and border patrol, fences and dogs.  This shows the extremity of this situtation.  Throughout my days here at La Casa, I have pondered many times my citizenship in the U.S.  If my dad would have never crossed to "the other side," I, too, wold be living in Mexico, perhaps even suffering here.  Each time I open the door to the Casa and interview a new migrant, I think about my father, about my own life, about the families that miss these men."

"If these men had the opportunities and resources in their own country to make money to feed their families, than they would stay near them instead of traveling far into a different country to work jobs that no one else will take.  They risk it all for minimum wage jobs in the U.S.  They risk losing their identities, losing their pride, many times even their lives.  The fact is they do because they love.  They want to help their families; they want their children to have food and clothing."

Prisma Garcia [photo]"Cruzamos por amor!"  The migrants do it for the money, but also for the love they have for their families.  I crossed into Mexico differently, but for the same reason.  Love.  Love for my culture, love for my bothers and sisters of this world, love that Jesus put in my heart for my neighbors...  ...the gospel and its long tradition require Your Church to promote and defend the human rights and dignity of people on the move, to advocate social remedies to their problems, and to foster opportunities for their spiritual and religious growth.  Let it be our duty and our privilege to respond in this way to the biblical injunction:  "The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself." (Lev. 19:34)."

"Coming to Mexico [for an ISSLP] was my first choice; it is my culture that calls me.  This country holds in it hands my background and my ancestors.  With this experience, I begin to understand myself and the country that I love.  This is my parents' homeland; their country.  I had visited before but I never took the time to see what was really happening.  Yet, the issues are mind-blowing."

Prisma Garcia [photo]"... Each day I wake up [here at the Casa] to a world of suffering.  At the Casa, we care for men that have roamed the streets of Tijuana; some for days without food, water, or even a warm blanket.  They are migrating in search of a better future, in search of a home.  All that they find along the way is more suffering and disaster.  They become the poor and society labels them as invaders..."

"As a Catholic, the U.S. Bishops' pastoral "Economic Justice for All" challenges me to work with those who don't have the widest windows, or brightest futures, in short, the poor. ...  A society must build a health community only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.  Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency.  Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities -- to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.  While public debate in our nation is often divided between those who focus on personal responsibility and those who focus on social responsibilities, our tradition insists that both are necessary."

Allison Brantley

Allison is doing an internship with USCRI, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, National Children's Center: “We try to match pro-bono attorneys with detained children, mainly from Central America, seeking visas. My job, in particular, is to interview the children over the phone and manage case files.”

After spending this summer in Tijuana, Mexico, working with migrants and deportees, Allison is studying on the Washington D.C. Program this fall and doing an internship with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, National Children's Center: “We try to match pro-bono attorneys with detained children, mainly from Central America, seeking visas. My job, in particular, is to interview the children over the phone and manage case files.”

If you’d like more information on these internships, contact:

Rachel Tomas Morgan
Director, International Service Learning & Justice Education
Center for Social Concerns
Main (574) 631-5293
Direct (574) 631-9404

Summer Service Learning Program

Miriam Olsen, 2010  (no photo)
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
College: Arts and Letters
Project Site: Idaho Community Action Network
Site Supervisor: Leo Morales
Alumni Club Contact: Kathleen Curtis
Idaho Alumni Club, Andrews Scholarship

The Idaho Community Action Network works in immigration and health care advocacy. Miriam worked in an office making calls, translating documents, planning fund raisers, and going on home visits to recruit new members. She says,"The direct contact with my co-workers and community members who have openly shared their experiences with me has been very moving."

Aurora Rodriguez

Aurora Rodriguez, 2008

Hometown: Houston, TX
College: Arts and Letters
Project Site: Casa Juan Diego
Site Supervisor: Mark and Louise Zwick
Alumni Club Contact: Penny Wolf

Casa Juan Diego is a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality serving undocumented immigrant women. Workers assist guests with their daily needs, such as driving them to an appointment or simply talking with them. Aurora's responsibilities included the intake of guests, preparing the guests' rooms, sorting donations, playing with children, taking guests to appointments, praying with the other Catholic Workers, working in the clinic and on the newspaper, teaching Spanish/English, running meetings with the guests at night, and working in the garden. "'Love is the measure.' Love is what carried me through my work at Casa Juan Diego. Love is what inspires me to continue to serve God in all I do."

Anne Horst

Anne Horst, 2010

Hometown: South St. Paul, MN
College: Science
Project Site: Highland Mac-Groveland Family Center
Site Supervisor: Jamie Schwartz
Alumni Club Contact: Ellie Kuhns

The Highland Mac-Groveland Center is an extension of the Neighborhood House in St. Paul which serves those who have recently immigrated to the United States and refugees from many troubled countries. Summer in the City camp is a place for children of the neighborhood families to come to learn, develop, and have fun! Anne planned camp activities such as crafts and field trips, completed registrations, ran errands and other preparatory jobs. Anne served as a counselor for 12 children entering third grade.  She planed games, participated in activities with the children, and cared for their safety and fun. “I am thankful for every moment that I get to spend with these kids. They are strong and resilient and never cease to inspire me.”

If you’d like more information on these internships, contact:

Andrea Smith Shappell
Director, Summer Service Learning Programs, Alumni Relations
Center for Social Concerns
(574) 631- 7867
fax: (574)631-4171

One-Credit Seminars

Border Issues Seminar

These are students in the International Summer Service Learning Program who worked at sites dealing with immigration issues.

Dana Stovall

Dana participated in, and then student-coordinated, the Border Issues Seminar for three years.  Upon graduation, she went to work in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, working with immigrants and is currently living and working in Monterrey, Mexico.

Megan Marshall

Megan participated in the Border Issues Seminar as a senior last year.  As a pre-professional and Spanish major, she has changed her career plans and would like to practice medicine with the immigrant population at the border upon completion of medical school.  She has spent time in multiple Latin American countries.

If you’d like more information on these seminars, contact:
Jim Paladino
Associate Director for Program and Resource Administration
Center for Social Concerns

Holy Cross Seminars

Students have participated in the Center for Social Concerns’ Holy Cross Mission in Education Seminar and the Holy Cross Mission in Hispanic Ministry Seminar.

Dmitri Martinez

Dmitri Lee Martinez

Hometown:Del Rio TX
Class of 2009

One student, Dmitri Martinez, was in Arizona with the Holy Cross Mission in Education seminar and lives at the border in Texas.  Another student is Kaitlin Ramsey, who was in Coachella, California, with the Holy Cross Mission in Hispanic Ministry seminar. She is from Minnesota and started going to St. Adalbert’s Parish on the West Side to continue to learn about the immigrant community. 

If you’d like more information on these seminars, contact:
Bill Purcell
Associate Director, Catholic Social Tradition and Practice
Center for Social Concerns

The Kellogg Institute

For students interested in pursuing immigration studies: Mobility, Society, and Governance in North America.

Opportunity to Study and Research in Mexico or Canada for Notre Dame Undergraduate and Graduate Students

ND Students now have the opportunity to participate in a one-semester study abroad program in Mexico or Canada. Students from any discipline may participate. Through the program, students will choose from one of four universities and will pursue studies in topics such as Border and Environmental Management, Democratic Process and Institutional Reform, Cultural Identities, and North America after NAFTA (paying particular attention to economic and social well-being).

The Kellogg Institute offers students a variety of funded opportunities to pursue their international interests beyond the classroom.

Summer Internships
Deadline: Monday, November 5, 2007

The Kellogg Institute awards fellowships to Notre Dame undergraduates for internships in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as several U.S. locations. Interns spend a minimum of eight weeks with their host institutions and receive funding to help cover transportation and living expenses.

See for details.

Kellogg/Kroc Undergraduate Research Grants
Deadline: Monday, March 10, 2008

Juniors whose interests include a clear international dimension related to the thematic priorities of the Kellogg and Kroc Institutes are eligible for research grants. Several grants, a maximum of $4,000 each, are awarded for research abroad or, if demonstrably appropriate, in the United States.

More information is available at

Experience the World (ETW) Fellowship – Africa, Asia and Latin America
Deadline: Friday, March 14, 2008

The Kellogg Institute offers freshmen and sophomores the opportunity to engage in initial exploratory projects in Africa, Asia or Latin America. The fellowships fund exceptionally qualified and committed undergraduates who seek to undertake innovative projects in any of the three regions. These may include research, nonprofit work, study, or other activities that will increase their commitment to, and knowledge of, the regions. Award recipients may receive up to $4,000 to pursue field projects for up to three months in the proposed region.

For more details, see

Kennedy Prize

Deadline: Monday, March 31, 2008
Each year, the Latin American Studies Program awards the John J. Kennedy Prize for the best senior essay on Latin America. It carries a monetary value of $300 and recognizes the recipient’s high quality of work at Notre Dame. The winner will be recognized in the graduation program and during Senior Week ceremonies.

Get all the details on the Web:

Kellogg Undergraduate Essay Contest on Immigration

The Latin American Studies Program of the Kellogg Institute [] is sponsoring an undergraduate essay contest on the theme of immigration, with cash prizes for winners and honorable mentions.

Essay Criteria

  • A formal essay addressing a topic related to immigration in any regional, international, contemporary, or historical context.
  • The essay may be a revision or expansion of a paper completed for a class or departmental requirement, part of an extended independent research project, or the outgrowth of a summer internship or service project.
  • All essays should be informed by scholarly research on the subject.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to work with a faculty member and to consult the readings on immigration posted on the ND Forum website.
  • Essays should be typed, double spaced, and roughly 8-10 pages (maximum length of 2500 words).

Application: Each application should include the following:

  • A cover page
  • A copy of your essay

Submission Deadline: Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Essays should be submitted to:
Immigration Essay Contest
Kellogg Institute
130 Hesburgh Center

Competition Committee: Notre Dame specialists on immigration issues. All submissions will be read by at least two committee members.

Contact: Professor Ted Beatty, Interim Director, Kellogg Institute for International Studies 1-7038,

Institute for Latino Studies' "Immigration Community Images"

In support of Notre Dame’s annual Forum and the topic of immigration, the Institute for Latino Studies has decided to hold a juried exhibition in Galeria America located in McKenna Hall. The show will be titled “Immigration Community Images” and will encompass all forms of immigration. Submissions will be opened to ALL students currently enrolled at the University of Notre Dame.

  • September 17, 2007 – October 17, 2007
  • Gallery Opening: October 11, 2007, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

Awards being presented:

  • First Place - $500
  • Second Place - $350
  • All applicant’s work selected for exhibition - $100

What we are looking for:

  • Photography themed around the broad topic of immigration
  • A total of 25 pieces will be selected for the exhibition

Judging criteria:

  • Design
  • Composition/content
  • Relevance to theme
  • Craftsmanship

Requirements for submission:

  • All works must be in the medium of photography
  • Each participant is permitted to submit up to 3 works to be judged
  • Each piece submitted must be accompanied by an application
  • All works will be submitted electronically for judging purposes
  • 300dpi, in either: .tiff, .jpg, or .gif format

Submission and selection timeline:

  • All submissions MUST be received no later than August 1, 2007
  • August 15, 2007 the multi-disciplinary selection committee will meet and select the 25 works to be exhibited
  • August 17, 2007 all applicants will be notified
  • August 27, 2007 all pieces will be delivered to the Institute for Latino Studies for show preparation
  • October 8, 2007: Notre Dame Forum

If you have any questions about Immigration Community Images please feel free to contact Lauren Magnifico at 574.631.5224 or via e-mail:

To submit work to be considered for the Immigration Community Images exhibition: Apply.