Maria Sotomayor, a 2013 graduate, returned to campus on March 27 to speak with Professor Andrew Miller’s history class about her work with the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC).
Andrew Miller and Maria Sotomayor
As a Civic Engagement & Community Outreach Coordinator with PICC, Maria is involved in outreach efforts to new American citizens. She helps them register to vote and educates them on their rights as new citizens. She also advocates for immigrants and refugees.
An immigrant herself, Maria feels a personal connection to her job, which gives her the freedom to work with the immigrant community in the Philadelphia area.
She advised current students to “take advantage of what you have now, like counseling and professional development programs, and internships.”
As a student, she jumped at the opportunity to complete an internship with a Kensington-based non-profit that helps families deal with mental health issues. The internship experience solidified her career path and helped her get her current position with PICC. She revealed that this internship helped her by providing opportunities for networking and teaching her how to handle case files and deal with people as individuals.
In a 2013 Neumann video that features Maria, she admits that, when she arrived at Neumann as a freshman, she was very shy. “But I soon realized that Neumann wanted me for who I am.”
That realization and meeting people on campus who encouraged her to be a leader had a significant impact. Maria helped create Fashion for a Cause, a student organization that hosts an annual fashion show to raise money for scholarships. She threw herself into her studies, using the skills she learned as a psychology major to prepare for a career.
In Professor Miller’s class, Maria outlined several ways for students to become involved in supporting immigration reform and advocacy: the March for the PA Dream Act on April 8, PICC Lobby Day on April 29, and ongoing voter registration initiatives.
“Sometimes,” she urged, “we have to get out of the bubble that we’re used to.” To volunteer for any of the activities she explained, contact Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Neumann opened doors for me,” she smiled. Now, she’s opening doors for others.
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