Ayesha Durrani

University of Sussex Postgraduate Award, University of Sussex - Migration Studies

I am originally from Yardley, Pennsylvania, and I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Islamic Studies in 2018. For the past year, I have worked as a paralegal at the American Civil Liberties Union's Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, assisting with cases centred on free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state. As the child of Kashmiri immigrants, I have been aware of and committed to immigrants’ issues from a young age. Volunteering as an undergraduate at Kids in Need of Defence, an organization that helps children navigate the asylum-seeking and deportation processes, cemented for me the importance of fighting for migrants and asylum-seekers, who are often robbed of their voices and freedom. In college, I furthered my understanding of migration by researching refugees, war and disaster. Recently, I’ve combined this research and work experience with political advocacy and organizing, specifically regarding the unfolding crisis in Kashmir, which will undoubtedly have migratory effects. As a Fulbright-University of Sussex postgraduate student, I will continue down this path, pursuing an MA in Migration Studies and comparatively analysing UK and US immigration practises, particularly as they relate to detention. Outside of class, I hope to explore every inch of Brighton’s beautiful beaches and volunteer with organizations like Voices in Exile, which provides legal and practical support to vulnerable migrants.