Connections Past Issues

LEARNING BY DOING

Finding "the Perfect Spot" Career

Holocaust study abroad and internships lead Candice Gage ‘14 to improve lives through immigration law

by Chris Farnum

Candice Gage

Candice Gage ‘14 became an immigration lawyer because of her experiences that started sophomore year when she was studying abroad — especially a trip confronting the harsh realities of the Holocaust in Germany and Poland.

“When you travel to these concentration camps where you witness piles of human ashes and furnaces used to destroy bodies, or you’re listening to Holocaust survivors explain that long before anyone was being murdered, no one of Jewish ancestry was allowed,” says Gage, “you quickly realize there is much we must confront.”

She adds: “That trip made me think about the bigger picture — how a country’s laws and policies can shape what happens.”

Gage was invited back to campus to speak on a panel during Homecoming and Reunion 2018 about the impact of her experiential learning and about being part of a legacy of faculty, students, and alumni working on social justice.

“I want to be someone who stands against hatred, to say this isn’t right,” says Gage. “We need to change the laws, and I hope to be able to do so through my work.”

She’s struck today by actions being taken in her own country: excluding people from certain nations, demanding that immigrants speak English, and calling the police on people with dark skin who are just on their way home.

Gage grew up near Binghamton, N.Y., in a family that needed to use public benefits at times, and Gage worked at their church’s food pantry. So it has long been clear to her that “not everyone is privileged in the same way.”

Her perspective was further shaped by coursework for her anthropology major and by additional study abroad experiences — in Belize, focusing on forensic anthropology, and in Guatemala, researching genocide while living in a community of indigenous Maya people affected by it.

Law school internships exposed her to legal issues for resettled refugees, which confirmed that “immigration law seemed a perfect combination of everything I’ve learned up to this point and everything I want to do with my career,” says Gage. “I definitely landed in the perfect spot.”

As an immigration staff attorney at the International Institute of Akron in Ohio, she focuses on providing low-cost immigration legal services to immigrants throughout northeast Ohio.

“The most satisfying part of my job is being able to help people in my community that often get overlooked,” she says. “Most of us are immigrants of some sort, unless we have Native American ancestry, so I believe in welcoming our new neighbors, rather than shunning them.”

She hopes to work for immigration law reforms that will benefit everyone, so that “people can come to this country to reunite with their family; to attend school, start businesses, or conduct research; in short, to enrich and benefit American society, just as Americans hope to do when they travel elsewhere with the same intentions.” She adds: “There are ways we can advocate for benefits for immigrants and for our country.”


Chris Farnum is an associate director in Marketing and Communications at Nazareth. Photo by Robert Muller.

Auschwitz

Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

About Gage

Major: anthropology
Minors: honors, biology, and multicultural studies

Study abroad

Internship in college: Legal Aid Society immigration unit in Rochester
After Nazareth: J.D. degree, The Franklin Thomas Backus School of Law at Case Western Reserve University, 2017