As a first-generation college student from El Paso, Texas, Leonardo Moraveg wasn’t sure he’d fit in at Brown. But when he visited campus for A Day on College Hill (aka ADOCH), he immediately felt at ease. First, he met other students from El Paso; then he learned about the Undocumented, First-Generation College and Low-Income (U-FLi) Student Center. Brown was a place where he knew he could belong.

“My border hometown of El Paso has a special place in my heart,” Leonardo says. “To me, it reflects the potential that border cities have, the positive benefits of immigration and the pride of being part of the Latino culture. While I do miss home and my family, it's comforting to know that I can find like-minded people and people with different views in an environment that fosters growth.”

The summer before coming to Brown, Leonardo, the son of immigrants, worked with Texas state senator Jose Rodriguez as a legislative intern. He witnessed the apprehension and separation of families seeking asylum, and learned firsthand how communication and research can influence policy.

It's comforting to know that I can find like-minded people — and people with different views — in an environment that fosters growth.

– Leonardo Moraveg

“This internship really guided me to seek more opportunities here at Brown,” Leonardo says, “and to dedicate myself to further investigating the complexity of government activities in areas like economics and immigration.”

For Leonardo, immigration isn’t just a hot-button political topic; it’s personal. His father came to the United States as a refugee, fleeing political turmoil in Iran. His mother came from Mexico. After his father became a citizen, he married Leonardo’s mother, and the couple settled in Texas.

“It brings me a sense of pride that I come from two parents who have suffered and sacrificed a lot for my sister and me to excel in an academic environment with better opportunities,” Leonardo says. “It also motivates me to excel in school, achieve socioeconomic mobility and break the cycle of poverty.”

It’s this highly personal motivation and the support of key Brown mentors that inspire Leonardo to continue exploring a passion for issues affecting immigrant communities. He is voicing his ideas and opinions on this topic, and more, as the World Section staff writer for Brown's Political Review, an editor and writer for the Intercollegiate Finance Journal and an editor for the Brown University Journal of Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

 Leonardo is focused and driven, but he’s quick to credit those who have helped him navigate his Brown experience, like Julio Reyes, program director for the U-FLi Center. Leonardo is a U-FLi scholar and a strong proponent of the center, where he’s connected with people who have similar backgrounds and experiences.

“The center gives me a place to study, a place to explore and meet new people and, most importantly, a place that provides mentorship,” he says. “It’s one thing to read and be aware of the resources at Brown; it’s another to have a mentor like Julio guide you on how to best utilize them for your personal goals. I have the work ethic and discipline. The last thing I needed and got, was mentorship.”  

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