Global studies major sparks interest in immigration issues for Emma Lemke ’19

An interest in immigration and its historical reasons in the United States inspired the senior seminar research project of Emma Lemke ’19 of Hilbert, Wisconsin. Lemke is a double major in history and global studies.

Her research presentation, “The Impact of Immigration and Racism on the Future of American Identity,” was inspired by a class with Sarah Frohardt-Lane, assistant professor of history and director of the Environmental Studies Program. Lemke became interested in how the modern intersection of immigration and racism is impacted by historical immigrations, especially given today’s progressive movements.

Lemke’s preparation for her research includes information from recent articles and books. She also incorporates statistics and demographic issues, thanks to a suggestion from her adviser, Assistant Professor of French and Coordinator of Global Studies Jean-Blaise Samou.

She interviewed Ripon College students about how they identified within a multicultural America. “Friends on campus appreciated the fact that I was bringing this topic up because it’s typically not addressed publically or ends in the argument,” Lemke says. “I wanted to find research and data behind immigration and try to make it clear.

“One of the big challenges I really saw at the end of the semester was that I was by myself while researching,” Lemke says. “There was a lot of, ‘this is my view, this is right’. As I spoke with other people, I was pushed to go further and try to … broaden my range.”

Lemke is proud of her presentation and says, “I had a lot of questions at the end that were challenging, especially for the research I did. It was a great turnout from faculty.”

She says the project taught her how to do research in general and how to strike a fair balance in presenting her work.

“There are a lot of political issues that I didn’t really take into account when researching, and you have to be careful in presenting (political) information,” she says. “I learned a lot about immigration and racism in general, and I also learned how to interact with people without coming off as offensive or aggressive.”

Lemke says the global studies major “gives students the opportunity to start broad, examining anthropology, foreign relations, history and language, and then choose to home in on their interests or stay broad.”

After graduating, Lemke would like to work with companies that preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Dakota Marlega ’21
Waupaca, Wisconsin


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