Blake Michael

Class of 2016

Hometown: Frankton, India

What was your College Scholar project?
My College Scholar project focused on comparative immigration policies within the United States and the European Union, combining courses from the History, American Studies, Romance, and Government Departments. PAM 3040 (Immigration and Public Policy) and HIST 2251 (U.S. Immigration Narratives), both offered in the Spring of 2015, were both extraordinarily useful in identifying the underlying themes of international migration. Language courses with a cultural component housed within the Romance Studies Department, such as FREN 3050, PORT 3120, SPAN 3010, and ITAL 2203, have helped me to paint a globalized picture of both sending and receiving countries of international migrants. During this past Winter term, I traveled to Cambodia with Professor Mertha and a dozen other Cornell students; together, they studied the effects of Chinese influence on the country, Cambodian history and culture, and the Cambodian Genocide.  We walked through Angkor Wat, and visited the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge.  This transformational experience inspired me to delve more deeply into the region's refugee history and to take a survey course on Vietnamese language and culture this past semester.

What were your most important extra-curricular activities?
Over the course of the past three semesters, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to teach English as a Second Language through ESL at Cornell.  I designed and taught several courses to students coming from a variety of different countries and backgrounds, ranging from visiting scholars to parents of graduate students. The experiences of my students, coupled with the struggles in acclimating to American culture and learning the English language, have helped me understand more fully the complexities of highly skilled migration.   I spent two semesters as an analyst within the Foreign Policy Center of the Roosevelt Institute and was published in the national journal. I then spent the next two semesters as the Domestic Policy Center Director, and tasked with editing and preparing the campus journal each semester.  

What are you doing now, and what are your long-term plans? 
For the next two years, I will be teaching secondary mathematics in Tulsa, OK with Teach for America.   I then plan to attend law school with the goal of becoming an immigration attorney.  I hope to be an asset to the thousands of undocumented immigrants apprehended each year within the Midwest, and aspire to contribute to comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Congress.