Studying Leadership Through Immigration

by Darlene Salvador ’25 and David Sieg ’25

Learning Lab II is an annual experience that allows students to develop an understanding of national and global issues by interacting with leaders in that field. During the Class of 2025’s Learning Lab II, Park Scholars traveled to Washington, D.C. to learn about national leadership through the lens of the United States immigration system.

The Class of 2025 at the Capitol

The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 47 million people in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for 14.5% of the national population. This number is constantly increasing, as more than 1 million immigrants arrive in the United States annually. 

With immigration at the forefront of media and political discourse, the Class of 2025 traveled to Washington, D.C. to learn first-hand about how leaders manage the issue through visitation with the key individuals involved.

From Sunday, Oct. 9 to Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Park Scholarships Class of 2025 examined how national leaders are working to reform the immigration system, develop new policies and analyze the complex problems within immigrant communities to create solutions to the challenges they face. This was accomplished through engaging with speakers who approach the issue from a wide variety of angles. The speakers varied,and the rich perspectives shared helped to illustrate the complexities of the immigration system and the unique challenges faced within the United States’ system. 

In the days leading up to the program, students heard from Dr. Tatiana Rabinovich, Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar in the International Studies Department, Rose Amburose ‘25 and Pratik Bairoliya ‘25. Questions from the class drove a production discussion, which laid the foundation for their enrichment experience to come. 

During Learning Lab II, students heard from a range of speakers that included Executive Branch staff, immigration attorneys, a journalist, a health policy analyst, and retired Department of Homeland Security deputies. Diverse perspectives gave Park Scholars the opportunity to think critically about complex problems embedded within the immigrantion system and some proposed solutions. Complementing this, group discussion time allowed students to reflect on the topics presented and to consider potential applications of the leadership skills learned into their own lives.

Sonia Pereira ‘25 said, “The two most important leadership skills I learned on this trip were being able to find areas of agreement with people from diverse perspectives and to ask myself what skills I have that I can give to the world.”

Emi Bolder ‘25 said, “During Learning Lab II, I gained insight on how to be a leader without having an official role in government. For example, within the field of immigration, some leaders we visited included non-profit, health policy, legal, and journalism workers. These people all have made an impact on the immigration system despite not being within the government.” 

Ethan Baker ‘25 said, “The most important leadership skill I learned on Learning Lab II is how to be a leader in our divided world. To be most effective as a leader, you must know the bases on which you stand, yet keep an open mind that your own base might have cracks, being open to change.”