Skip to main content

College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

UD student helps with immigration casework, research through School of Law internship

By Lucy Waskiewicz ’24

University of Dayton junior CJ Delgado is helping people navigate the citizenship process through an internship with University of Dayton School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic.

Delgado, a political science major from Dayton, assists six final-year UD law students who work with clients on gender-based asylum, refugee and citizenship cases. 

The internship, in partnership with UD’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, allows Delgado to study real-life situations that encompass her political science coursework, as well as that of her women’s and gender studies minor.

“With each case, I observe the women’s and gender studies factors, such as women trying to petition for their children to come to the United States or leave domestic violence situations,” Delgado said. “Their stories inspire me to think about what changes I can make as a WGS minor, and, as a political science major, how I can incorporate public policy into that realm of women seeking citizenship.”

The internship also is strengthening Delgado’s communication and emotional skills, which she relies on while navigating sensitive case files and overcoming language barriers with clients.

“We can make that human connection even if we don’t speak the same language,” she said. “We’re not from the same country. We’re different ages. But learning how to communicate with people even if I don’t know their full story is really valuable.”

Jamie Small, associate professor of sociology and director of UD's Women’s and Gender Studies program, connected Delgado with the internship through the program’s service learning course. The experiential learning opportunity allows students to work for a community organization that meets women’s needs and/or promotes gender justice.

“Rigorous coursework is necessary but not sufficient for developing the whole person, so I believe experiential learning is crucial for our mission,” Small said. “From a faculty perspective, I also have the honor of seeing students develop their moral compass and sense of wonder. It's such a joy to have a student in an introductory class and then see them shine, like CJ, in an experiential learning opportunity.”

Delgado’s mentor, Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills Ericka Curran, has more than 20 years of experience in clinical and experiential law education and specializes in immigration and human rights. She said Delgado’s experience working with the clinic is helping her put theory into practice.

“It has been wonderful working with CJ, who has assisted with casework and research,” Curran said. “The clients we help are real people experiencing challenges and it can be empowering to use your education to help them achieve their goals.”

Delgado, 04-16-24

The Immigration Law Clinic is one of four law clinics in the UD School of Law. Through residencies at these clinics, law students work with real clients, attorneys and judges under the supervision of a clinical professor.

“Students get to engage in real-time legal research, fact investigation and client counseling in a supportive and supervised setting,” Curran said. “The Immigration Law Clinic helps mostly refugees, asylum seekers and women fleeing gender-based violence. The work is challenging but inspiring.”

Delgado said her experience with the Immigration Law Clinic has inspired her to work with gender-based immigration advocacy in the future.

“If I go to law school, it will be to do immigration law,” she said. “And if not, something I definitely want to do as a career path is work for a nonprofit with refugee asylum seekers, or even just a women's shelter, where I can advocate for these things. Ultimately, it would be amazing if I could do what Professor Curran and the female law students in the clinic do, which is work with clientele on gender-based issues.”

Small said women’s and gender studies is a field that pairs well with several majors and minors. This degree gives students expertise that can set them apart from other candidates in the job market. It also allows them to be mission-driven and build a stimulating, financially stable career.

“Sometimes students assume that they must choose one or the other, but that's simply not true,” she said. “There are so many career pathways related to women, gender and sexuality open for smart, passionate and hard-working students like CJ.”

For more information, visit the UD Women’s and Gender Studies and UD School of Law websites.

Delgado, 04-16-24

Previous Post

UD Hebrew Bible scholar to release award-winning book on gender in the Old Testament

UD Assistant Professor Esther Brownsmith explores questions of gender and sexuality in the Old Testament in her first book.

Read More
Next Post

UD historian preserves Iraqi minority cultural heritage under $1M USAID grant

A University of Dayton historian is working to preserve the cultural heritage of minority communities in Iraq.

Read More