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Caitlin Corrigan-Orosco is a Peace and Global Studies major at Earlham.

Earlhamite participates in international leadership program at Oxford University

September 13, 2017

When Caitlin Corrigan-Orosco ’19 left her Long Island, N.Y., home for Earlham, she was determined to do more than earn a degree. Just two years into her studies, she is gaining real-world experience in international law, diplomacy and refugee studies while putting her knowledge into action.

Most recently she became one of just 10 students out of 400 applicants selected to participate in the Oxbridge Future Leaders Program 2017 at Oxford University, an experience that advanced both her academic interests and her future prospects.

“Studying at Oxford was truly spectacular and further enriched my education and supported my goal to study international affairs in graduate school,” she says.

The source for her ambition? Caitlin points to the challenges she has faced. A first-generation student supported by a single mother, Caitlin persevered through a series of treatments to cure three tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme’s Disease at the mere age of 16. She also has supported her mother through her mom’s diagnoses of an inoperable brain tumor.

“My mother has served as my source of inspiration throughout my entire life. Her incredible strength and courage has propelled me to take on challenges head-first and to always stand up for what I believe in,” Caitlin says. “When I recovered from organ failure, I made a promise to myself to always use my mind to its fullest potential and not take one minute for granted.”

As an Earlham student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Global Studies, she has taken that philosophy to heart and it has led her to pursing projects abroad. During her freshman year, Caitlin ventured out of the United States for the first time to Taiwan as part of a May Term that focused on the invasion of the Chinese Communist Party. In the following year, she took part in Earlham’s Tibetan Studies program, a semester-long off-campus program headquartered in Dharamsala, India, the home of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Caitlin’s experience is an example of Earlham’s distinctive approach to the liberal arts. Earlham helps students combine disparate interests and opportunities into a coherent and cohesive plan that helps them make the most of their education. The EPIC Advantage offers a funded internship or research experience for all interested students before graduation.

“I became especially invested in learning about the systems in which our world is governed by, and the forms of oppression that keep these systems in place,” Caitlin says. “Furthermore, I wanted to learn more about my role in the world and how I can be a part of a global movement in promoting human rights, especially the rights of refugees.”

During her semester in Dharamsala, she took classes at Sarah College and The Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. She interned for the Tibetan government-in-exile with The Tibetan Legal Association, an experience that included completing a case study on political prisoners who died while incarcerated in Tibet.

Last summer, in the weeks before participating in the Oxbridge Future Leaders program, she traveled to Barcelona, Spain, and worked with Casa del Tibet, a non-profit established by the Dalai Lama to promote support and solidarity for Tibetans living in Spain. Working alongside her on the research was Earlham Professor of English Kari Kalve, a co-leader of Earlham’s Tibetan Studies program.

“In my report, I articulated the struggle of preserving Tibetan culture while being displaced in Spain,” Caitlin says. “I explored how the preservation of Tibetan culture is deeply affected by assimilating to Spanish and Catalan culture.”

Caitlin says she has likewise felt supported by Earlham’s Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, for which she is a scholarship recipient. Through this program, she has access to skill-building courses and tutoring, and individualized assistance through the graduate school application process. Joseph Green, who is the director of the program, has served as both a mentor and friend during Caitlin’s time at Earlham.

Now as she begins her third academic year, Caitlin’s passion for improving the lives of refugees is evolving into other geographic areas. This fall, she will attend the Clinton Global Initiative University’s annual conference in Boston along with two of her fellow Earlhamites. At the conference, they will seek funding to launch a social venture establishing a shelter in Oaxaca, Mexico, for survivors of human trafficking.

“My desire to take an active role in my education and to challenge myself, encourages me to enthusiastically open my eyes to new insights and create something beautifully meaningful,” she says. “With support from my advisors, mentors, most admired professors and Earlham entirely, I have built enough courage to look the impossible in the eye and smile with determination and perseverance.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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