2020 Piedmont College Symposium

Piedmont College— Even in the wake of COVID-19, a group of business students propose a way that companies can help refugees, and vice versa.

A group of business students: Rachel Irby, Leslie Lopez, Mark Mitchell, Julia Nichols, Walker Snyder, and Valeriya Zhurakovskaya presented the session, “Migration, Employment and Entrepreneurship” at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium.

“We used The Department of Homeland Security to find out where these refugees were coming from and where they were going throughout the U.S.”, said Walker Snyder.

“People struggle to build a new life either because they are lacking education or finances”, said Leslie Lopez.

Lopez put together a pool of information about the migration of refugees. Her main focus was about those who were from Syria and Venezuela. She explained that refugees have a hard time settling in a new city or country due to their lack of education or finances. It is not easy to make a life for yourself when you are being stereotyped and judged, she said.

But there is one place refugees can be welcomed — business. Mark Mitchell noted that companies can help refugees, and in return refugees can help those companies.  

“You’re trying to generate revenue and help both parties”, Mitchell said.

However, COVID-19 has made it difficult to pursue and maintain this mutually beneficial relationship between refugees and employers.

“Different fields of employment have went up now with the virus,” said Rachel Irby, noting that refugees are usually used to fill in the gaps for companies that need employment. With the virus putting people out of work and businesses closing, it leaves little to no job opportunities for the refugees.

“I think this team has done a very good job of trying to highlight both what was there and what could be there for impact investing in tools and resources in helping people connect”, said Professor Stephen Carlson.

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