Carrie Acus Love ’09, a native of rural Michigan, heard her call to advocacy while teaching high school English in a New York City public school classroom, where most of her students came from immigrant families.
Beyond learning a new language and education system, challenges outside the classroom hindered her students’ academic success, Love says. Lack of health insurance often lengthened the time a student was out sick. And children also missed class because of problems at home connected to their families’ immigration status.
To help address these broader issues, Love, who holds a master’s degree from Teachers College, decided to return to school. “I really liked working with people, and I was passionate about doing human rights work with immigrants and with women,” she says. “Law seemed like a great way to combine the two.”
During her first semester at Columbia Law School, Love helped a West African woman gain asylum through the Davis Polk & Wardwell Asylum Workshop, a Columbia pro bono project under the law firm's direction, and represented domestic violence victims with the Courtroom Advocates Project. She spent her first summer at the Immigration and Refugee Legal Services department of Catholic Charities, with support from Columbia’s Human Rights Internship Program. The next year she participated in the Immigration Defense Externship and was a member of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review.
After graduation, Love will use a Skadden Fellowship to assist immigrant victims of domestic violence in Massachusetts, where she and her husband live.
“Rural immigrant women in abusive situations face so many distinct obstacles,” she says, citing isolation, poor public transit, fewer cultural networks than in urban areas, and a lack of translation services.
Love will work for Western Massachusetts Legal Services, providing comprehensive legal assistance and developing outreach programs for the area’s growing population of immigrants. After her two-year fellowship concludes, she intends to continue advocating for immigrant women in her community.