Intern Spotlight: Lorrenette Herring

This is the fourth in a series of spotlights on our spring 2017 student interns.  Learning Life’s students this spring are translating documents, conducting research, fundraising, doing outreach locally and internationally for our Citizen Diplomacy Initiative (CDI), and other work.  Lorrenette Herring, interviewed below, is helping with community outreach and CDI content development, among other things.  

Lorrenette HerringWhere were you born and raised?

I was born in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast, West Africa. My parents are actually Liberian however due to the war they fled and that’s why I was born in Ivory Coast instead of Liberia.  I have yet to go back.  I was however raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  My father received a scholarship to come to Calvin College in Grand Rapids and then had us move from Ivory Coast to Grand Rapids. We actually joke about having the United Nations in our house because my mom, dad, and older brother were all born in Liberia, I was born in Ivory Coast, and my little brother was born in Michigan.

What school do you attend, and what is your year and major there?

I  am a third-year student attending the University of Maryland, College Park. I am a French major, and a Black Women Studies minor.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like singing, dancing, meeting new people, and learning more about how different policies affect people of color.  I like to read mystery books, hang with my friends, and reach out to people about their religious beliefs about God and the world.

Is there a life experience you have had that has particularly shaped you as a person thus far?  If so, what is it, and how has it shaped you?  

Yes, I am not a U.S. citizen and am a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.  [Editor’s note: DACA is a federal initiative established by the Obama Administration in 2012 that allows some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the USA before the age of 16 to work and defer their deportation for a renewable two-year period.]  So, I am following closely what the new U.S. President is or is not doing with that.   DACA has made me all the more grateful to be able to work,  drive (I don’t have a car, but I do have my driver’s license because of DACA) and pursue my dreams. It has made me want to advocate for, and help others with immigrant experiences like mine.  I am beyond grateful for the opportunities and very aware of the intersectionalities of being black, an immigrant, and a woman during these times.

What are your career plans?

As of now I want to help in the nonprofit world in the domains of immigration and/or civic engagement. After college, I want to go to graduate school for immigration law or public policy.  Further down the line I would like to create my own nonprofit, and open a home for immigrant women, children, and people of color.

Why did you choose to intern with Learning Life?

I wanted to learn more about nonprofits and the work they do.  Learning Life’s CDI aligns perfectly with my field of work, especially the international dialogues, and understanding the way people view the world and the situations around them.

What is the most beautiful place you have seen on Earth, and why is it so beautiful?

The most beautiful place I have seen is Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.  While I don’t remember much about it, we have photos.  The climate is beautiful, very tropical and there are trees everywhere.  The water is very clear and blue.  The city is bustling.  There are ice skating rinks, swimming pools everywhere.  It’s like Miami, but in West Africa.