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Whitworth alum finds vocation in immigration work with Miami Department of Justice

April 14, 2014

Whitworth alumna Diana Stapp, ’08, recently accepted a fellowship through the Attorney General Honors Program to join the Department of Justice as an attorney advisor to the immigration court. Stapp will graduate from St. Thomas University School of Law in May, and she will begin her fellowship in September at the Executive Office for Immigration Review, in Miami, Fla. Stapp will work at the Krome Detention Center’s immigration court, and will assist judges in the research and writing of opinions.

Stapp was offered the highly competitive post-graduate opportunity with the Department of Justice after she participated in her law school’s Immigration Law course and Immigration Clinic.

“Whitworth’s emphasis on vocation has had a lasting impact on me,” Stapp says. “From freshman year on, professors encouraged us to find our vocation, not just our career. I distinctly remember in my last Core 350 lecture, a PowerPoint slide had a quote by Frederick Buechner: ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’”

Law school was a distant thought when Stapp attended Whitworth, where she majored in international studies with an emphasis in political science. Whitworth Professor of Political Science Julia Stronks was a strong influence on Stapp and encouraged her to consider attending law school. After graduating from Whitworth, Stapp joined the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Young Adult Volunteer Program in Tucson, Ariz., where she worked in the Southside Worker Center.

“My work in Arizona opened my eyes to the vast struggles of immigrants on a daily basis, and I saw many areas where law was the only avenue to help these men,” Stapp says. This experience brought Stronk’s suggestion of law school to the forefront of her mind, and Stapp, after another year with YAV in Nashville, Tenn., enrolled at St. Thomas University School of Law.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.