Virginia Carr

In July 2018, MSW student Virginia Carr volunteered for a week in Dilley, Texas supporting immigrant mothers and children seeking asylum in the United States. Virginia teamed with other professionals as part of the Dilley Pro Bono Project, which provides legal services to detainees at the South Texas Family Residential Center. Most commonly, families at the Center are fleeing extreme violence in Central America and elsewhere.

Virginia, who is fluent in Spanish and English, joined a legal team aiding clinicians with psychological evaluations by providing interpreting services. She spent 12-hour days speaking with mothers and eliciting information in preparation for so-called “fear interviews.” Virginia helped to prepare and lend emotional support to mothers before and during meetings with asylum officers. Virginia emphasized the importance of using a trauma-informed approach to build rapport and help the women feel safe sharing their stories of fleeing persecution.

Over the course of the week, Virginia and the legal team helped 15 families achieve positive asylum, which is an initial step in the legal process for refugees. Positive asylum can however, be overturned once the case is presented to the judge in court. Virginia, who is expected to graduate from WCU’s MSW program in 2020, said the volunteer experience confirms her passion for becoming a social worker and providing psychotherapeutic services to help trauma victims from South and Central America.


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