Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work


Student Helps Refugees Adjust to Life in America

Student Helps Refugees Adjust to Life in America

Aqela Rahman

Major: Social Work; expects to graduate in 2017

Internship: Refugee resettlement intern at Catholic Charities (August 2014–May 2015)

Tell us a little about your role and what you did.

Catholic Charities receives hundreds of refugees every year and helps these families and individuals find homes, get jobs, and become self-sufficient in the U.S. My job was to help these families learn about all the resources available to them.

And how did you do that?

All sorts of ways. I would take them to school open houses, doctor’s appointments, ESL classes, and more. I also took many of them to government offices so they could learn more about the educational, health care, and public welfare systems here.

What attracted you to the internship?

I was drawn to it because it gave me a chance to work in case management to see who establishes policies, but it also allowed me to work directly with the people who are affected by these laws and rules. The internship showed me both the macro- and micro-systems ‪involved in social work.

Talk about some of your favorite memories from your time there.

I loved seeing my clients adjusting to their new country and enjoying life here. I’ve celebrated with clients when they’ve gotten their first job, had their first child, or simply learned how to navigate the public transportation system on their own.

What was the main thing you learned from your experience?

It taught me the role that social workers and government agencies play in helping new immigrants become oriented in their new country—and it encouraged me to one day pursue a career in public service.

Learn more about Loyola's Social Justice Internship program on the Center for Experiential Learning's website.