Congratulations to the Winner of Our Fall 2020 Scholarship

Published on Sep 23, 2020 at 8:32 am in Firm News.

Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC understands the importance of investing in the future and giving students the opportunity to pursue higher education. That’s why our firm participated in our first annual scholarship. We’re excited to announce the Fall 2020 Scholarship winner. All the applications had unique, well-written essays. Thank you to the applicants who demonstrated their creativity and perspective.

Congratulations to Allison Miyashiro of California!

Allison will pursue her master’s in public health and master’s in social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley.

This is the essay topic:

If you could host a podcast about any topic, what would it be and why? Who is your audience and why are they listening?

This is her winning essay:

Unraveled and Rewoven: A Podcast to Highlight Refugee Voices and Experiences

In 2017, I began working as a refugee case manager at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Sacramento, California. Admittedly, when I was hired for this role, I knew relatively little about refugees. However, what was once a completely unfamiliar population suddenly became the center of my attention. Through countless hours of coaching clients, I was exposed to the trauma refugees had endured, the challenges they faced while trying to integrate into a new community, and the tenacity they demonstrated as they fought to achieve their goals.

Working at the IRC, I learned that refugees have exceptionally important stories to tell; the severity of the global humanitarian crises my clients described shocked me and the resilience that they demonstrated inspired me. Therefore, if I were given the opportunity, I would love to host a podcast titled Unraveled and Rewoven, where refugees in the Sacramento area could share their stories as a way to showcase the contributions they make to society, illuminate the obstacles they have faced, and celebrate their resilience.

One reason I would like to host a podcast that amplifies the voices of refugees is to ensure that there is a space where they can share the contributions they make to society and celebrate their resilience. In recent years, there have been many news stories about the threat that immigrants pose to the wellbeing of our country and the news has played a major role in dehumanizing immigrants through their harsh characterizations (Esses et al. 519). While often depicted as lazy, criminal, and/or dangerous, working directly with immigrants exposed me to a very different picture of who they truly are. I met one refugee, Z, who had won an international cooking competition but whose true passion in life is helping survivors of domestic violence. Z eagerly sought out English classes so that she could continue her advocacy work in Sacramento. Another man I met fled the Taliban to come to the US, worked two jobs, took English classes, supported seven kids, and dreamed of a career as a K9 officer. There were families who opened restaurants, people who worked as seamstresses, and so much more. Building relationships with these individuals painted a vibrant picture of the “refugee experience” and stood in stark contrast to the narratives about immigrants that I heard on the news. Therefore, I would be eager to host a podcast about refugees by refugees because it could help cultivate compassion, empathy, and understanding toward immigrants – by creating visibility for this community and allowing them to share their own stories and deconstruct the negative stereotypes they face.

Another reason this podcast would be valuable is that it could be used to highlight how some of the health and social service systems in the US could be restructured to be more inclusive. For example, when I worked at the IRC, clients often had difficulty accessing health care services. Some clients were denied an interpreter and could not understand their doctor’s instructions, some lacked access to public transportation and could not get to the clinics, others followed religious and cultural practices that made seeking certain treatments difficult. So why share these challenges and frustrations on a podcast? Exposing the barriers that people face when trying to access care could help listeners build empathy for community members who are struggling to get their needs met and prompt people to think about how they can make the places they work (or services they offer) more inclusive.

Overall, my hope for the Unraveled and Rewoven podcast would be that it reaches people across the United States. At the IRC, I became more invested in Sacramento’s refugee population as I got to know individuals and developed an understanding of the challenges they faced. If I were to host this podcast, I would host it from Sacramento to help other Sacramentans foster connections to the refugees that live here. However, I think that this podcast’s impact can extend far beyond my hometown. While the stories would take place in Sacramento, there are refugees all over the country and world. This podcast could serve as an inspiration for others to seek out refugees in their community, support them, learn from them, and connect with them. Ultimately, my hope for this podcast would be that I create a space where the voices of refugees can shine, where refugees’ humanity and dignity are recognized, and where other people can connect with refugees by learning from them and embracing them as important community members.

Works Cited
Esses, Victoria M., et al. “Uncertainty, Threat, and the Role of the Media in Promoting the
Dehumanization of Immigrants and Refugees.” Journal of Social Issues, vol. 69, no. 3,
2013, pp. 518–536., doi:10.1111/josi.12027.

For more information on the upcoming scholarship for Fall 2021, please view our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Allison!

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