Madeline Holland

Madeline Holland

Class of 2015, America Field
Project and Outreach Associate, Talent Beyond Boundaries
Madeline Holland

Thesis Title: Stories for Asylum

What Now: Project and Outreach Associate at Talent Beyond Boundaries

After my freshman summer, I taught English to refugee and recent immigrant students at RYSE, one of PBHA's Summer Urban Programs. When my sophomore year began, I kept up with the students I had taught through an ongoing tutoring program. I was also a volunteer through Health Leads at the time, helping low-income patients at Boston Medical Center, many of whom were immigrants and asylum seekers, access services like food stamps and affordable child care. By the time I was able to make my own syllabus in Hist and Lit, I was interested in studying the manifestations and challenges of pluralism in the U.S. I was curious about how the narrative I had grown up on -- America as a "melting pot," a home for the "homeless" and "tempest-tost" -- was reflected or undermined in practice and in policy. In that Junior Tutorial, I remember reading How the Other Half Lives and Twenty Years at Hull House and being struck by how the barriers recent immigrants at the turn of the 20th century faced to accessing needed services and opportunities were so similar to those barriers I saw students and families facing in my work outside of class. 

After my junior year, I interned in refugee resettlement at the International Rescue Committee and throughout my time there became interested in the stories they were forced to tell as part of their application process. I thought it was a fascinating overlap between narrative and policy, between history and literature. I wrote my thesis on the topic, and was able to present it at a conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration the following year. After graduating, I worked at a nonprofit committed to expanding opportunity for immigrants and migrants in the American south and now am working for a group that is creating a pathway for refugees to find global private-sector employment. The opportunity to examine my experiences outside of the classroom through my coursework in Hist and Lit made both come more alive for me.