Monica Callahan began working with Catholic Immigration Services of Little Rock as a CLINIC Fellow less than a year ago. She did not have much exposure to the complex issues of immigration law, but was inspired by her background with the Spanish language.
“Growing up in Arkansas, I was surrounded by people from Mexico and Central America that worked in agriculture. Thus, it was always important to learn Spanish, because it was useful,” she said.
As a result, during college Callahan spent a semester in Argentina, and immediately after graduating, she moved to Spain for a year. These experiences led Callahan to pursue work in a field where she could help Spanish speakers.
Though Callahan was interested in this job because of the potential to use her Spanish, she emphasizes how rewarding her work is, because she is constantly learning.
“When I entered this position, I had little knowledge of immigration,” said Callahan. “Now, I just received BIA accreditation and can see clients on my own! I went so quickly from knowing nothing to this. There is still a learning curve, but that is exactly what is so exciting to me.”
Since gaining accreditation, Callahan is focusing on outreach and family-based petitions. She works to help educate people about immigration benefits they are eligible for, especially in rural communities. Additionally, Monica helps renew Temporary Protected Status for clients from Central American countries. She acknowledges the “really big cases” are time consuming, but “definitely worth it.”
Callahan is able to bridge her passion for both Spanish and learning, while helping others to gain immigration benefits in the United States. As a recent graduate of Villanova in 2014, she is happy to have found work she enjoys and wants others to do the same. As a result, when asked if others should pursue work in immigration, Monica proclaims, “without a doubt!”
Source: Catholic Charities