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Advice for the Class of 2023

Alexis Fintland stands in front of the Migration Policy Institute office.
May 25, 2023

From Former Migrations Scholars

A year after their graduation, some of our past undergraduate Migrations scholars share advice for the class of 2023!

Alexis Fintland '22

Program and Research Assistant at the Migration Policy Institute

Working with the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center for Immigrant Integration Policy in Washington, D.C., Alexis conducts research to promote the civic, economic, and linguistic integration of immigrants and refugees in the United States. Her analyses focus on equity issues in workforce and education systems to inform policy recommendations for government officials and community leaders.

"As an undergraduate Migrations scholar, I was able to build deeper relationships with Cornell faculty members who have a rich knowledge of immigration policy, law, and history," said Alexis. "This mentorship and guidance from my professors ultimately drove me to apply for a position at my dream organization, where I am thrilled to work in an environment that gives me the opportunity to learn from the top experts in the field.” 

Her advice to graduating seniors in 2023? "Slow down and be open to changing your plans. Cornell is fueled by a fast-paced culture that can push people to make hasty decisions for the sake of having post-grad plans. Post-graduation is a time to step back and do what you really want to do. Had I given in to the pressure, I would have gone straight to graduate school and missed out on a dream opportunity. Taking a bet on myself and waiting to get some hands-on work experience was the best decision I've ever made."

Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar '22

Program Coordinator at the Environmental Defense Fund

Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar stands on a beach with a woman in Africa

In her work, Danielle advocates for environmental justice and stronger clean air regulations in the U.S.—work she was engaged in as a Migrations scholar and also as an intern with the Einaudi Center’s Institute for African Development.

"Environmental degradation and climate change is a human rights issue that often results in the displacement of vulnerable individuals, families, and communities," said Danielle.

"Being a Migrations scholar reinforced to me the importance of putting people and public health at the center of climate action. I was able to gain experience working with a team to put on virtual, hybrid, and in-person events, which is exactly what I am doing in my current position."

Vanessa Olguín '22

Fulbright in Peru

Fulbright U.S. Student awardee Vanessa Olguín ’22 arrived in Lima, Peru

As a Fulbrighter, Vanessa is developing a research project on the state of international migrant protection in Peru and the role of local and international NGOs in helping to secure that protection. She is being hosted by the Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

"The undergraduate Migrations group as a whole and the dedication that they all had to migration studies, migrant justice, and rights really allowed me a space to ask questions, to continue to be curious and confident in the fact that what I was interested in was important," said Vanessa. 

The two biggest lessons she's learned are to not be afraid to try new things and that it's okay to not have it all figured out. 

"I think one thing that Fulbright and my undergraduate years at Cornell taught me is that there is value in your thoughts, ideas and curiosities!" said Vanessa. "Try to not be afraid to reach out to that professor, apply to that one dream job, ask that question aloud in class, or apply to that competitive program. There might always be a person, a space, or an institution that says no to you, but don't say no to yourself first."

Luis Tamayo '22

Associate Property Claims Adjuster at Amica Mutual Insurance

Luis Tamayo stands in front of his office

Luis took a gap year after graduation and worked as an insurance claims adjuster as he prepared for law school. He hopes to become an immigration attorney.

"This career choice has been a dream of mine as a son of immigrant parents and, thanks to the Migrations scholars program, I was able to truly define my career aspiration in my academic work by sharing space with such passionate individuals that had similar interests as me," said Luis. 

"Being an adjuster depends on communication, critical thinking, and self-initiative, all of which I strengthened throughout my time as a Migrations scholar. More importantly, the program encouraged us to consider and value different perspectives, a skill that I carry with me each day as I speak with parties from diverse backgrounds."

Additional Information


  • Migrations