"It changed my life": The Impact of the VIISTA Program

Michelle Pistone teaches VIISTA course

In the most recent issue of One With Magazine, a publication from the Sisters of St. Joseph, Diane Maguire detailed her time with the Villanova Interdisciplinary Immigration Studies Training for Advocates (VIISTA) program, how it prepared her to advocate for migrants in need of aid, and the emotional response she felt during those experiences.

VIISTA is one of the first university-based online certificate program to train immigrant advocates. Designed by an interdisciplinary team of leading faculty, lawyers, and NGOs, VIISTA revolutionizes education about the law by educating legal advocates.

In the One With Magazine article, Diane details an account of helping a family who had evacuated Afghanistan and was looking to settle in Philadelphia.

"It's life-changing, totally life-changing, and I knew from that moment that I was in for more than a semester. I was finishing the program. I knew that this was a way I could contribute to humanity for the next stage of my life.
This can make a difference in some people's lives in a fundamental and real way. I know these stories are heartbreaking. When you hear the suffering that people go through, you realize just how good we have it in this country. I am just so aware now of how blessed I am and how unaware I was of how blessed. Coming face to face and looking into the eyes of someone living with so much pain and fear has changed me. Those personal stories—that's the thing that can transform you. There are so many people in need and so many opportunities to volunteer. If you can, reach out in some way in your town, city or community. It changed my life."

- Diane Maguire