Thursday, April 14, 2016

Student Spotlight: Hannah Rickey

by Ann Abbott

Hannah Rickey was a student in a special section of our Spanish composition course the only time I ever taught it as a community service learning course. That's a course that many students take as freshmen or sophomore, so I was delighted when Hannah was my student again in "Spanish in the Community" and my social entrepreneurship course a few years later as a senior.

She went on to work last year as an Americorps legal advocate.

And now she is transitioning again. I want to share her message to me so that all students can see the connections between law and our Spanish community service learning courses. Hannah doesn't say that she's interested in going to law school, but who knows? Many of my former students have ended up going to law school and some now work specifically in immigration law or with immigrants.

Hannah is a role model not only because she has been working with immigrants' rights, but also because she exemplifies the winding path so many people have after graduation. I say it here all the time here, but it's true: focus on finding a good learning experience for yourself in your first step out of college, work hard, impress your bosses, build your network and follow the opportunities that will arise from that.

Hola Ann!

I've been meaning to shoot you a message since you forwarded Kelly Klus's email last month. It was funny timing to get that message around this time, because I am also in the process of applying for jobs and figuring out what comes next! It seems like I just started, but my AmeriCorps service year is already winding down.

I have loved the experience of working in an immigration office, and I wish I could continue here, but ... I'm starting to look for positions in immigration in Chicago and a few other areas in the Midwest.

I feel like I've gotten so much experience and gained so much knowledge in such a short period of time in this service year, so I'm optimistic moving forward. I have a surprising amount of independence here, taking lead on many of my own cases (Naturalization, DACA, green card renewals), as well as assisting our attorneys in their cases, particularly with asylum and Special Immigrant Juveniles. Our attorneys don't speak much Spanish, so I assist them every day with our multitude of Spanish-only clients, which has of course only helped my language skills and confidence, and also has given me the opportunity to learn so much about those types of cases, in all of their stages. I never would have imagined a few years ago that I'd be in a job where I speak Spanish every day, but I love it, and I'm so glad this opportunity worked out.

I know that your reference and my experience from your classes played a large role in getting this position, and I was hoping to continue to utilize you as a reference on my applications this time around, if that is all right.

I hope that things are going well with you and in Champaign, I miss it very much!


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