Dawit Shiferaw: Religious Immigration Service’s newest paralegal

What type of work do you do at CLINIC?

I am a paralegal at CLINIC’s Religious Immigration Services, or RIS department. 

Where did you work before joining CLINIC?

Before Joining CLINIC, I was working for a Silver Spring, Md.-based translation and interpretation company. I was the lead and program coordinator for the translation and interpretation service, or TIS, department.

How did you become interested in immigration?

Before I came to the United States, I was a refugee. I came to the United States via a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, third country resettlement program. I had first-hand experience on how it feels to be an immigrant. The ups and downs. The highs and lows. Once I resettled into the United States, I was looking for ways to give back and when the CLINIC opportunity came, I didn’t even have a second thought. 

What do you like most about working in religious immigration law?

Working at RIS has a lot of takeaways, but the most likable thing I can say would be the opportunity it will give one to learn new things every day. The learning curve opportunities are enormous. Every day is a new day at RIS, every day presents its own sets of hard work and fun. Much appreciation to my supervisor for her patience and guidance during the learning stage of my job.

What do you wish other people had told you before you took the role?

People tell you it’s stressful and there is always something to do at RIS, but nobody tells you it’s fun to work at RIS. I love what I do, so I am enjoying every moment I spend with RIS.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring paralegal working in the immigration field, what would it be?

The immigration field is job that requires teamwork. In a teamwork type of environment, there will be frictions, so don’t take it personal. Give yourself a little grace and be willing to learn.

What is the most fulfilling part of your job?

Giving Back: When there is a cause you care about; it feels great to get involved or give back in some way. You know the saying, “It’s better to give than to receive,” right? That’s because at the end of the day, it always feels great knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. My job encourages me to positively impact the lives of others, and that’s the most fulfilling part of my job.