Eastern Michigan University first-generation student inspired by parents' migration to the U.S. hopes to become immigration lawyer

Cedrick Charles stands outside on campus with the Sherzer dome in the background.
(Photo by David Reyes)

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University student Cedrick Charles has a motivating rationale for coming to EMU and everything else he wants to achieve. Charles' parents emphasized education early on and encouraged him to stick with it despite all odds. He is currently paving a pre-law pathway to help other families with the immigration process.

“Watching my parents navigate the challenges of immigration and serving as their translator and middleman revealed to me a gap that needed to be filled in law,” said Charles. “From then on, I knew I was interested in law, specifically helping immigrant families.” 

After his parents immigrated from their native country, Charles became the first-born American amongst his siblings and immediate family. "My parents put in the effort because they wanted the best for me," Charles said. "That's why they made the ultimate move from Haiti to America, and ever since then, I have always seen the importance of education." 

Charles began his collegiate journey in the fall of 2020 when he left his hometown in South Florida to join the EMU community. He is pursuing a double major in political science and economics, hoping to become an immigration lawyer. 

Charles initially decided to come to Eastern after being recruited by EMU forensics team’s coaches and team members at one of his speech and debate tournaments during high school,” Charles said. "I attribute a lot of everything I have to the forensics team. I think that coming here, I could find a group of people I could connect with and lean on almost immediately when I came to Michigan."  

According to Charles, throughout his high school career, he was involved in speech and debate, student government, and journalism. All of these activities came to a crashing halt after his senior year abruptly ended due to COVID-19. He did not become complacent but instead searched for the same activities on EMU's campus. 

In addition to Charles being a forensics team member, he's the student government vice president, news editor for the Eastern Echo, Swoops Food Pantry volunteer, and vice president of the newly re-established pre-law chapter of the national black student law association at EMU. 

"I want to make an impact by the time I leave Eastern. The motivation to make an impact and see a difference keeps me going. 

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

March 15, 2023

Written by:
Victoria Scott

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher