Emma Campbell (Class of 2025)

Author: Ciera Griffin

Emma Campbell, an international economics and Spanish major with a peace studies supplementary major, is intrigued by the role of peace as part of the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. In this student Q&A, Emma describes her educational motivations and discusses an exciting recent visit to Mexico for her Economics of Immigration class.  

What led you to Notre Dame?

Funnily enough, I did not want to attend Notre Dame initially! I was mostly looking at urban schools in the northeast because I prioritized accessibility to immersive, service-learning experiences. I thought that limited me to a city environment. Once I learned that Notre Dame had a plethora of these experiences all around the globe, I became interested. I quickly grew attached to the University’s mission and the opportunities it provided to learn both inside and outside the classroom regarding topics I was passionate about. 

I have always been interested in how global systems work and can be made more efficient and beneficial for all involved. I recognize the impact the U.S. economy plays in these systems, and I can use that knowledge as a tool. Because I am interested in the immigration system, particularly across the U.S.-Mexico border, Spanish seemed an appropriate language for me to study. I have always been drawn toward trying to create peace for people and communities. This major allows me to quantify it, examine case studies in detail, and apply an intersectional lens to a variety of conflicts and situations. This is a skill that I hope to utilize in my future career.

What do you hope to get from your Notre Dame education and experience?

During my time at Notre Dame, my goal is to create a toolbox of knowledge and experiences that I can take with me into future jobs and environments, a toolbox made up of moments stemming from all of the inspiring people, places, and opportunities I encounter while here. I want to continue challenging myself to participate in diverse programs and courses so I can expose myself to a variety of perspectives and beliefs. I hope that my education at Notre Dame presents me with more questions than answers, so that I leave eager to learn and do more. 

How did you get connected to the Kroc Institute?

Since the fall semester of my freshman year, I was interested in the Keough School’s global mission and knew I wanted to be involved in some way. I took Intro to Peace Studies in the spring semester of my freshman year and expected to pursue a more general minor in global affairs. However, the topic of peace studies fascinated me, and I realized that I wanted to understand it in as much depth as possible. I continue to grow my passion for peace studies with each class that I take.

What interests you in immigration, and what drew you to the Economics of Immigration class?

I have been interested in immigration for several years now. During high school, I took part in an immersion trip to El Salvador. While there, I spoke with several families who had lost loved ones during the difficult journey to the U.S. border. My eyes were opened to the injustices within this process, and I spent the next few years learning about it in my own community by helping with ESL (English as a Second Language) and citizenship classes. In addition, I took part in a Summer Service Learning Program through the Center for Social Concerns and spent the summer after freshman year of college at a refugee home in Houston for mothers and children who had just crossed the border. All of these experiences combined have grown my passion for immigration reform. For an issue that becomes so opinionated and political, having the ability to analyze and understand immigration through a qualitative lens is extremely helpful and valuable. 

Tell us about your trip. What activities did you do?

Our time in Mexico was structured so that we spent time working with local organizations and shelters, speaking with the U.S. Embassy and local leaders, and exploring our surroundings to see how immigration affects communities. We stayed in Puebla and Mexico City, so we were able to see both an urban environment and a small-town setting. When we met with shelters like the Red Cross, we spoke with the directors to see how they prioritize and provide for migrants’ needs. We also had the opportunity to speak with migrants directly and hear about their motivations and stories behind their journeys. These experiences were intense, but they provided important insight into the immigrant reality. We also heard from some professors at the Puebla university UPAEP about migration. All of this, along with some good tourist excursions, created a beautiful week spent with a variety of inspiring people in Mexico. 

What were your takeaways?

Although I had done immigration work before, it is a complex issue made up of millions of individual stories and circumstances. It is always moving to hear from individuals about their lives and struggles that have led them to a point of desperation that motivates them to leave everything behind in hopes of a better future. This experience reinforced my understanding of migration habits and patterns, and helps me to think at a deeper level about the politicized information in the news. I appreciated learning how different organizations and shelters design themselves to support the migrant population. These groups create secure and efficient environments that produce maximum resources with minimal staff and funding. I have a new interest in nonprofit management methods and possibilities. 

Additionally, I am incredibly grateful for the Kroc Institute for funding this experience. As much as this trip aligned with my passions, it would not have been possible for me to attend without financial assistance. I am consistently appreciative of the support that I find at Notre Dame to help me achieve my goals and pursue my passions.

How will this class impact your future studies or career?

This class has taught me the value in viewing issues analytically, to understand how and why they work the way they do. It has walked me through this process with immigration, and it is a skill I hope to take with me as I encounter more situations in peace studies and beyond.