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Drew University First-Year Students Pen Winning Letter in Support of Immigration Rights

Four students submitted a letter to U.S. Senator Cory Booker as part of the 2022 D4D Letters to an Elected Official Competition

June 2022 – Four Drew University first-year students submitted a winning entry to Project Pericles’ 2022 Debating for Democracy (D4D) Letters to an Elected Official Competition.

Action Scholars Jose Barahona C’25, Cameryn Brown C’25, Ashley Kibel C’25, and Molly Reidmiller C’25, mentored by Dillon McCarthy C’23, teamed up to write “A Letter to Introduce New Legislation to Authorize Non-Government Organizations to oversee Immigration and Customs Enforcement Treatment and Education of Sexual Assault Victims in ICE,” which was addressed to U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).

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Barahona: 'We were all passionate about the topic at hand as a team, standing up for victims of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities. I believe that is why we were able to write a successful and winning letter.'

Other letters submitted to the competition covered issues like climate change, immigration, labor unions, and LGBTQ+ rights.

For Drew’s students, it was an exercise in teamwork, collaboration, research, and writing.

“Sometimes, being a first-year student on campus can seem daunting, but finding this group was a step in the right direction,” said Cameryn Brown, a declared political science major and environmental studies and sustainability minor.

“I chose Drew because of the dedication the staff and faculty has for its students. I wanted a college that would push me to get internships, be involved, and become successful, and Drew has done just that.”

For Barahona, who plans to double major in economics and computer sciences, with minors in finance, data science, and/or cybersecurity, the D4D experience exemplified the reasons he chose to come to Drew.

“Although Drew was not my number one school when I started looking at schools, I ended up picking it because of its size, the distance from my home, the financial aid and scholarship I was offered, and because of the academic prestige and opportunities through so many programs and activities offered and promoted on and off-campus such as the New York semesters, Action and EOF Scholar Programs and so on,” he said.

“It definitely has lived up to my expectations and even surpassed them, especially as a commuter student given that I have never felt left out and have always felt like I belong and am welcomed especially by my professors who are a huge help in allowing me to be successful in and out of the classroom. Ever since my summer courses in the Francis B. Sellers EOF Program, over and over again I have been presented with new skills and tactics that have helped me enhance my research, reading, writing, team building, communication, and organization skills to then apply to the coursework in my classes and to projects such as the Debating for Democracy letter.”

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