Presidential Fellow Paulina Morales ’24 Tackles Subject Close to Her Heart

By Tom Porter
One of the projects occupying government major Paulina Morales ’24 during her senior year was her involvement in the prestigious Presidential Fellows program run by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC).

The fellowship, which included students from across the nation and “select international universities,” involved monthly meetings to learn about different aspects of the function of government.

two images: paulina morales24 and morales with thomas pickering53
Morales attending the CSPC conference, where she met with Ambassador Thomas Pickering '53, who every year sponsors a Bowdoin student to attend the fellowship (more info).

The culmination of the program was a five-day leadership conference for all fellows held in Washington, DC, during which they discussed a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues and met with policy experts.

“I was super interested in participating in the fellowship, as I wanted to conduct research on our government to understand what systems are at play and how we can leverage power to uplift marginalized communities,” said Morales.

A first-generation Mexican American from Texas, Morales grew up in a predominantly immigrant community, so naturally the subject of US immigration policy was one she was keen to explore further during her fellowship.

Morales had the additional honor of being one of the fellowship’s twenty-three students whose research paper was selected for publication in the Fellows Review.  Her paper, Dehumanizing Migrants: Development of US Immigration Legislation and the Creation of the “Illegal” Immigrant, focuses on the history of immigration legislation and how the “illegal” immigrant narrative is shown in contemporary media. “I chose this research topic due to my lived experiences and those that come before me,” explained Morales. “Because of this fellowship,” she added, “I was able to learn more about the historical development of systems and legislation that continue to impact my life and that of many others.”

Morales described her time as a CSPC Presidential Fellow as a “transformative” and “life-changing” experience. “I was able to meet with other students who are passionate about government and public service, as well as with influential researcher and public servants. I am leaving the program with more confidence in my research abilities, longtime friends, and even more questions to answer,” she said.

Later this year, Morales will be heading to Mexico to teach English and do volunteer community work as a Fulbright fellow. Eventually, she would like to pursue a master’s in public policy before going to law school.

Following in Morales’s footsteps next year will be government and philosophy major Max Payne ’26, who was recently selected by Bowdoin to participate in the 2024–2025 CSPC Presidential Fellows program.