Cabrini alumna exemplifies ‘Justice Matters’ curriculum

By Alyssa Mentzer
May 8, 2011

Cabrini has prided itself on its new Justice Matters curriculum, which educates students on real world issues that are affecting people all over the world.  The goal is for students to continue working towards a more just world after graduation.

Robin Larkins, an alumna who attended Cabrini before the Justice Matters curriculum was created, exemplifies what it means to advocate for social justice.

Larkins is currently the director of Cabrini Immigrant Services in Westchester County, N.Y.  She is responsible for the services, programs and administration of Cabrini Immigrant Services.

“I seek to develop positive relationships in the community and to form local partnerships to assist with identifying and providing for the needs of the disadvantaged immigrant families we serve,” Larkins said in an email.

Cabrini Immigrant Services has served clients from more than 102 countries, which makes every client’s situation different.  Many clients and families struggle with language barriers, education, cultural differences and living in the shadows due to the lack of legal documentation.

“I have also learned that many of the things I always took for granted are sometimes among the greatest challenges for our clients,” Larkins said. “Learning how to read and write, the experience of going to school, being able to help a small child with homework or reading to a child before bedtime, making a phone call asking for help and being able to get a driver’s license are all challenges.”

Larkins graduated in 1985 with bachelors degrees in English/communication and business administration.  While at Cabrini she was very active in the campus ministry and was student government association (SGA) president. She was also features editor of Loquitur.

During Larkins’ time at Cabrini, the college began immersion trips to Appalachia in West Virginia, which helped out those who are less fortunate.  Although she did not go while she was in school she attended a trip with a group of alumni and continued to go back for 16 years.

“Shortly after I graduated, a group of alumni were asked to go to Appalachia for a week in the summer to help run a camp for abused and neglected children, Camp Kismet,” Larkins said. The word “kismet” means fate and it was just that.  I remember I was burnt out from going to school part time, was a workaholic in the corporate world, yet when my friends asked me to go, I left our shore house and decided why not?  I became addicted.  It was the type of experience that once you go, you could not help but go back.”

Having worked in the corporate world for many years, Larkins was ready to find a job with more meaning.  She recently took on the role as director of Cabrini Immigrant Services in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

“The connections and interactions with those who walk into the office everyday seeking help, to learn English, to volunteer, to connect is such an opportunity and gift,” Larkins said.  “It is not only about the programs and services, it is more about the relationships that can form and flourish here.”

For approximately five years both offices of Cabrini ImmigrantSservices have welcomed faculty and students from the college to walk in the footsteps of Mother Cabrini and see what she worked for.

It is good for those connected with the college to understand the scope of the Cabrini world beyond the campus, especially in such a foundational area as immigration,” Larkins said.  “As the College becomes more involved with the local immigrant communities and national immigration issues and advocacy through the Wolfington Center and their partnerships, there will hopefully be more and greater opportunities to connect, collaborate and share resources.”

Larkins said each day brings new challenges and families in need, but they are dedicated to helping immigrants find a peaceful life in America.

“It is a privilege to see, get to know and hopefully try to make a difference in the lives of today’s immigrants and to share the road of their journeys through the work of this special mission,” Larkins said. “We get to carry forward the legacy begun by Mother Cabrini herself when she was sent to serve the newly arrived immigrants in New York.”

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Alyssa Mentzer

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