Ethnicity, race, and migration program graduates record number of students

The Ethnicity, Race & Migration Program this year graduated its largest class yet: 34 seniors, many of them first-generation college students.
Photos by Quan Tran, lecturer and senior program coordinator for Ethnicity, Race, and Migration

The Ethnicity, Race & Migration Program (ERM) this year graduated its largest class yet: 34 seniors, many of them first-generation college students.

In the interdisciplinary program, founded in 1997, students engage the fields of ethnic, Native, and queer of color studies to study race, migration, culture, and politics within a global framework. Originally a second major, ERM has been a stand-alone major since 2012 and draws broad undergraduate, graduate, and faculty interest. Faculty members from history, American studies, anthropology, sociology, and other departments teach ERM courses and advise undergraduate majors, who design their own concentration within the program.

The ERM major draws outstanding students who learn how to engage with the complexities of a diverse world, equipping them to contribute to it as global citizens and leaders,” said Yale College Dean Marvin Chun. “The major itself is a thriving community in which faculty and students learn from each other.” 

Throughout their time in the program, the graduating students (PDF) wrote literary non-fiction and plays, conducted original archival research, and documented labor, migrant, and prison abolition campaigns. In the form of essays, plays, graphic novels, and podcasts, they completed senior capstone projects that explored topics ranging from Mapuche politics in Chile to transnational labor in Thailand and Japan to Mexican Trans photographic practices to intergenerational memories of displacement, among many others.

Ana Ramos-Zayas, the director of undergraduate studies, said, “What I have found remarkable about ERM students is their ability to contextualize their intellectual curiosity and research questions. They channel their eagerness to understand the world through well-thought-out and creatively designed research projects. Their concern with social justice, from a variety of perspectives, is inspiring.”

Beyond the classroom, the graduating seniors complemented their ERM studies with such community-minded activities as supporting immigrant families through the New Haven organization Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, tutoring children in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and working on Yale’s Farm. Two of this year’s graduates, Emily Almendarez and Janis Jin, were awarded the Nakanishi Prize, which is given annually during Class Day to two academically accomplished graduating seniors for their leadership in enhancing race and/or ethnic relations at Yale College.

Many members of this group completed their studies under the very difficult conditions imposed by the pandemic — from Corona, Queens, to Japan, and tribal communities across the U.S.,” said Alicia Schmidt Camacho, professor of American studies in the Faculty of Arts and Science and chair of the ERM program. “At the same time, they remained invested in expanding the horizons for critical studies of Native, Black, Latinx, and Asian realities. We celebrate their impact on our program and their legacy for the wider campus.”

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