Meet Laurah!

Laurah Pollonais, Class of 2016

​I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up on the beautiful twin island of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. Trinidad and Tobago is the southern-most island in the Caribbean, located seven miles off the coast of Venezuela. At the age of eighteen, I ventured to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where I completed my undergraduate degrees in International Studies and French. During my four years at Spelman College, excellence was key to my dream of making my great-grandmother, Laurah Dell Austin’s dream of academic excellence a reality. In May 2012, I made an effort to lead social change by working with Teach for America. This opportunity led me to the Mississippi Delta, often called, “The Most Southern Place on Earth”. It was here that I experienced limited educational resources, subpar infrastructure, and families forced to uproot themselves in search of a better life. This journey of disparity sparked my passion for contributing to positive changes in the ways that governments deal with policy-related issues that impact the lives of each global citizen.

I plan to complete the Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies Certificate through the Institute for the Study of International Migration. The Institute focuses on all aspects of international migration, including the causes of and potential responses to population movements, immigration and refugee law and policy, comparative migration studies, the integration of immigrants into their host societies, and the effects of international migration on social, economic, demographic, foreign policy and national security concerns.  (More information about Georgetown certificate programs is available on our website.) 

I chose MAGES to help develop the skills necessary to bridge policy-related governmental gaps and to help organizations realize that it is only through working as one that can we achieve a better standard of living for all. MAGES will equip me with the skills needed to make a difference in the realm of global affairs today. Through this program, I will be taught how to use my language skills, knowledge, and experiences to create solutions to diverse global issues for the advancement of United States relations with the world.

Summer 2015 Internship: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Washington, D.C.

This summer I was afforded the opportunity to participate in the Pathways Internship Program through the U.S. Department of State. Specifically, I was selected to serve as a Student Trainee with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the International Operations Division (IO). IO is a component of USCIS within the Office of Refugee, Asylum and International Operations (RAIO) located in Washington, D.C.

IO is composed of six branches; I worked with Quality Assurance, Training, and Communications Branch (QATC).  In this position, I supported QATC on quality management and training programs for all International Operations staff. In addition, through the Pathways program, I observed Naturalization ceremonies, visited the Arlington Asylum Office, took a tour of the Capitol, and visited a Senate Hearing. My summer experience was unforgettable; I learned firsthand how the U.S. Government works to manage and ensure lawful immigration to the United States.