Students, alumni and faculty put learning into action

Collage of photos from immersion trip
Written by Audrey Hudgins, EdD, Cullin Egge, '23 and Julia Jenaro Barrio, '25
February 15, 2023

Audrey Hudgins, EdD, Clinical Associate Professor, Matteo Ricci Institute; Amanda Heffernan, MSN, CNM, Instructor, College of Nursing; and 11 current and former Seattle University students participated in a weeklong migrant justice immersion trip over Winter Break in 2022.

Students, alumni, and faculty during immersion tripAfter meeting together in class throughout Fall Quarter, the group put their learning into action by participating in an experience facilitated by Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit non-profit organization in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico that provides holistic services and accompaniment to migrants at the US-Mexico border. They engaged in a variety of activities to expand and complicate their awareness of border issues, including conversations with migrants, ranchers, a medical examiner's office, and Border Patrol agents.

"I'm so grateful for the opportunity to go on this immersion trip,” said Cullin Egge, Social Work and Spanish, Class of 2023. “Traveling to the border and speaking with migrants in person allowed us the chance to humanize and accompany people whose voices are too often silenced. Border issues are complex and multi-faceted, so having conversations with folks directly affected by them was enlightening. I'm looking forward to sharing my experience with others on and off campus and continuing to engage with migrant justice issues in my community and beyond!"

Julia Jenaro Barrio, International Relations & Business Analytics, Class of 2025, said "This immersion opened my eyes and motivated me to help people that have done nothing to deserve the horrible situation they're in. Talking to migrants that had nothing but were so grateful for being at the border changed my way of thinking and made me more aware of the important things in life. They are brave and powerful, and as human beings should be treated as such and have their rights respected. They deserve a place to stay and have a dignified life."

“Traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border with this group of engaged and compassionate SU students, including several nursing students, was a truly enriching experience for me as a faculty member,” said Amanda Hefferman. “Each night after dinner, I learned from our students as we reflected together on what we had experienced that day. The students listened respectfully to migrants who shared their stories with them at the Kino comedor, visited shelters on both sides of the border, heard a presentation from the Pima County medical examiner, and spoke to southern Arizonan ranchers and Border Patrol agents. Throughout, they held the varying perspectives they heard and the complexities they witnessed with thoughtfulness and care. It was a privilege to be with them on the journey.”

The students will implement their advocacy and activism plans in winter and spring quarters through engagement with Congressional offices, on- and off-campus presentations, and letter writing efforts with migrants in detention.