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Dayton Docket

Sofia Delgado Medina

Making a Difference from Miles Away

Sofia Delgado Medina wanted to be involved.

It’s why she’d come to the University of Dayton School of Law. Delgado Medina works in the immigration field but thought she could make an even greater impact with a law degree.

“Once I became familiar with immigration law, I thought this is what I want to do,” Delgado Medina says. “I want to advocate for people. In my current capacity I’m more limited in how I can advocate. I wanted more.”

So as a 2L in UDSL’s Online Hybrid J.D. program, Delgado Medina reached out to see what more she could do.

“I had met her teaching in the Online Hybrid program and I knew she had a real passion for immigration,” says Professor Ericka Curran, who is the law school’s Immigration Law Clinic Director.

Dayton Law students have helped Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), which is a non-profit legal services provider, with various in person clinics over the years, but as an online student not in the Dayton area that wasn’t an option for Delgado Medina.

It just so happened, though, that ABLE needed help with an influx of Haitian asylum seekers, who moved to the Springfield area to flee political violence in their home country. 

So Professor Curran and Kathleen Kersh, a Senior Attorney and Project Director with ABLE, came up with a solution to create an online clinic opportunity, which would not only allow the online students to participate, but also make things easier for many of the Haitian asylum applicants, who Kersh says have difficulty finding transportation to the in-person clinics.

“The students wanted to do something virtual where they could call clients on the phone on evenings and weekends, which is exactly what our Haitian clients needed,” Kersh says.

After going through training, Delgado Medina started meeting with clients online in March to help them with their asylum applications.

“So far the clients I’ve met are wonderful,” Delgado Medina says. “They’re very grateful for us to take the time to provide this service, meet with them and hear their story out.”

Delgado Medina has even recruited other students to help. She started with eight and continues to add more who are interested. 

“This created something unique for our hybrid students,” Professor Curran says. “She’s really taken charge of getting students involved.”

Delgado Medina says the work is helping her prepare for when she becomes an attorney.

“Not only am I meeting with the clients, but the supervising attorney is telling me, ‘Look your information is great but here’s where you can do better,’ and that will help me in the future,” Delgado Medina says.

And she’s getting to see firsthand the difference her involvement can make.

“Helping one client matters,” Delgado Medina says. “You cannot change the whole world, but you can change the world of one person.”

Adds Kersh, “We wouldn’t have been able to serve these clients without the students volunteering. There are a lot of folks whose lives are being impacted positively because of them.”

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