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Kayla came to Emmanuel intending major in biology and enter the medical field, but also knew she wanted to keep her mind open to trying new things.

She found her calling through Emmanuel’s liberal arts curriculum. “I took a gen ed course in sociology and I started thinking, ‘Is this what I want to do?’”

Within the sociology department, Kayla has taken a full breadth of courses from criminology to social work, and has found faculty mentors in both her coursework and internship exploration.

Her first internship was at Operation Peace, a nonprofit that provides educational summer camps for low-income kids in Boston’s neighborhoods. “We helped with reading, writing, math, science, and also just teaching them to be kind to one another,” she said. “I loved being a small part in this chapter of their lives, and hope I left an impact.”

Her future started coming into focus with a fall 2022 internship serving as a legal intern for Boston-based immigration lawyer Giselle Rodriguez. “I’m the daughter of an immigrant,” Kayla said. “I was able to learn so much about what happens behind the scenes and also how immigration stories get distorted by the media. I gained so much from Giselle, watching her become a voice for the voiceless and do it all free of judgement.”

In spring 2023, Kayla supported two attorneys as an intern at the De Novo Center for Justice and Healing, which provides free legal services to immigrants.

“I was able to observe what kind of work goes into the details of immigration law, and how it affects the bigger picture,” she said. “In this field, there aren’t always going to be success stories, and the work isn’t always glamorous. I was so happy to be there and I started to see what I could do long term.”

After discussing her goals with Director of the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fillette Lovaincy, she decided to follow Lovaincy’s footsteps and complete a year of service after graduation.

“It was just another reminder of why I love Emmanuel,” she said. “I’ve made these connections and heard about personal experiences from people who know me as an individual, who are not just looking at a checklist as if there’s a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Since graduation, Kayla has been working as an Older Adults Program Coordinator at the Arizona Food Bank Network, learning more about the barriers older adults face that prevent them from food security, and identifying gaps in resources and services. Her ultimate goal is to attend law school, and she also plans to spend the next year preparing for the LSAT and researching law schools.

“It’s not a gap year, it’s a year filled with an intention and a focus on my future.”