Beyond empathy: advocating for change

By Imani Fussell
October 4, 2012

Jessica Merone in Guatemala during spring break immersion trip.
(submitted photo / Jessica Merone)

An aspiring immigration lawyer found her passion here at Cabrini College. Jessica Merone, a psychology, sociology and Spanish triple-major, is deeply passionate about helping local immigrants get the rights they deserve.

“Immigration is more than political issues; it’s about social issues, acculturation and trying to blend your two cultures together,” Merone said. An immigrant herself, she can relate to the challenges that immigrants are facing every day. This is why her dream is to become a lawyer.

Jessica Merone during a spring break immersion trip to Ecuador with campus ministry.
(submitted photo / Jessica Merone)

“Going to law school is my ultimate goal,” Merone said. As for right now Merone has taken a number of steps to help her achieve her goal.

This semester, Merone is working with Catholic Social Services in South Philadelphia with clients of Hispanic, Latino, Vietnamese and Filipino backgrounds. Her duties involve her going everywhere from the courtroom to hospice.

“My internship is basically me being an advocate for the people who don’t have a voice,” Merone said. Merone also had an internship with Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, helping citizens register to vote. As a result of her Engagements in the Common Good class, she has mentored Norristown High School students in danger of dropping out of school.

Merone connects with the students she mentors.

“They talk to me about their school problems and what goes on in their personal lives,” she said.

Because of her experiences, she will gain knowledge about what the needs of the community are before going out into the work force.

“My love for volunteer work is the reason I went to Guatemala and Ecuador,” Merone said. “I wanted to see the push and pull factors of immigration… I want to hear the stories. I want to hear the testimonies.”

Merone said she is returning to Ecuador in the spring semester and hopes to return to Guatemala as well.

Jessica Merone.
(India Haire / staff photographer)

Merone wants to help the immigrants leave their turmoil behind them and start with a new beginning by living the “American Dream” that so many immigrants and Americans strive for. That is where Merone’s hard work comes into play, by helping with the language barrier and acculturation barrier and the discrimination immigrants face – and she’s determined to get to the root of all of these problems.

With all the experiences she already has under her belt and all that lies ahead for her, and with her deep passion and determination for the immigrants coming into this country, there is nothing stopping her from achieving her goal.

“With the stories I hear, it’s impossible not to be passionate about immigration,” Merone said.

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Imani Fussell

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