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PLU student finds home in migrant way station in Mexico

Pacific Lutheran University junior Briana Frenchmore got a job in high school. She had an itch to leave her home state of Colorado when it came time for college. But with a single mom who was supporting her family on a teacher’s salary, Briana knew it was not going to be easy.

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“For me, the economic factors have always been an issue,” she said. “I wouldn’t be here at PLU if it wasn’t for the support of numerous donors. I’ve received the Q Club scholarship all of my time at PLU.”

When it came time to choose a college, Briana said, she was impressed by PLU’s emphasis on Global Education. That fit with her desire to study away--to travel beyond the borders of the United States.

Briana wasn’t on campus long before she was making plans to study away. The first opportunity that came along was a January Term trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, during her sophomore year.

There, she volunteered in one of about 50 migrant shelters that dot the length of Mexico. These way stations, run by charities and local communities, serve migrant families making the dangerous journey from Central America to what they hope is a better life in the north.

One day, a family from El Salvador was passing through. “It happened to be the woman’s birthday,” Briana remembers. “And she wanted to make pupusas, which is a really popular food in El Salvador. So she taught us how to make the pupusas.”

Looking back on that day, Briana savors the memory. “You are very aware when you are in Mexico that you stand out. [But] when we were making the pupasas together, her status as a migrant faded away, my status as being American faded away. We were just sharing that meal together. We were friends.”

Next fall, Briana has plans to study away in Nicaragua. Her experience in Oaxaca caused her to ask questions about migration--and she wants to go closer to the source.

“One interest of mine is understanding migration and the connection between U.S. foreign policy and our neighbors in Central and Latin America,” she said.

After graduating from PLU, Briana would like to complete at least one year of service as a volunteer, honing her skills in community development, before pursuing graduate school.

Meanwhile, she says, “I feel like it’s really important to say thank you to donors for using their resources to make it possible for students like me to follow their passion. Who knows someday where that will lead?”

When you give to the Annual Fund, you make PLU possible for a student like Briana. Please give today.

Story originally published Spring 2012

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