Kiara Palomares, ’21, knows the challenges faced by immigrant families such as hers.
Kiara, who is majoring in political science and criminal justice and minoring in psychology at Bridgewater State University, is coping with the fact of her father living in Honduras after he was deported about three years ago. Meanwhile her mother, who came to the United States from Cuba, remains stateside and is on a path toward U.S. citizenship.
“At first I was devastated,” Kiara said of her father being forced to leave the country. “I knew it was a reality, but I never fathomed that it would happen to me and my family specifically. However, I feel it was harder for me to see how my little sisters and mom were impacted by it.”
Her sisters were 11 at the time and her mother worried about how to maintain the household. Her family, Kiara said, is now faring better, emotionally.
“This incident has pushed me to work so much harder because I realized that it’s not about me wanting to be successful but more about me needing to be successful,” she said. “I really don’t have an option.”
Now, Kiara, who was born in the United States and graduated from Lynn English High School, hopes to give back to the Hispanic community. She’s already had that chance thanks to an internship in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, provided through The Fund for American Studies’ summer program.
She was thrust into one of the major political topics of the summer – the Trump administration’s one-time policy calling for the separation of parents and children after they were detained for illegally crossing the border. Kiara traveled with chamber colleagues to Capitol Hill to advocate for families being separated.
“I was super nervous,” said Kiara, who completed the internship after only her freshman year at BSU. “I’m not completely oblivious about immigration policy, but I’m not the most educated either. Seeing the discussion pan out, it was like ‘wow.’”
Her primary role at the chamber was as a communications and marketing fellow, through which she attended and summarized events, tackled social media projects, and communicated with other chambers.
Kiara spent eight weeks in D.C., living with other students participating in the summer program, which mixes an internship with coursework and opportunities to see the sights. She visited museums and enjoyed the hubbub of the nation’s capital.
“It was very lively,” she said. “There’s always something to do. If you’re into politics, D.C. is definitely the place to be."
Kiara hopes to tackle another summer internship in the future. Ultimately, she wants to go to law school so she can help immigrants.
“As a citizen, English speaker and able-bodied person, why not help them because I know how hard they work?” she said.