Alumni Spotlights

Kaitlin Davies
Posted 05/08/2019 10:04AM

Immigration lawyer holds a green card for ISB

Kaitlin Davies was so convinced of the benefits of an international life that she founded a law firm helping U.S. visa applicants. She gave a talk at ISB amid plans to launch an internship program open to the school's students.

Kaitlin Davies' visit to ISB in February was a prime example of the school's alumni network benefiting the current student body, and vice versa. The PTA organized for immigration attorney Kaitlin, a student at ISB from 2002 to 2005, to talk to parents about options for non-U.S. citizens seeking to attend college in America or stay in the country.

It is an area of great interest for ISB families, with U.S. universities a popular route for international school students in China. Kaitlin is a proud Welshwoman and jokes about this preference ("Do you want to be lying on the beaches of California while studying, or do you want to be in Swansea freezing?"). Nevertheless, she is an expert on how to navigate the increasingly complex U.S. visa system and she was able to offer plenty of serious advice.

This was also an opportunity for Kaitlin to look for young recruits. She said she was considering establishing an internship program for ISB students at her firm Davies Legal, and that she would welcome paralegal applications from graduates.

Her experiences at ISB helped make Kaitlin a big believer in internationalism. She says her classmates came from "most continents and many difference background, including ethnic, religious and socio-economic. Coming from a fairly troubled state school in the valleys of Wales, I had a very different perspective among all the seasoned international kids. The friends I made helped me sit comfortably in this environment."

As well as the firm's work to secure precious visas for applicants, Davies Legal publishes regular "myth buster" articles in support of immigration and people having opportunities like Kaitlin and ISB students have had to live and work around the world. They enforce the argument that multiculturalism strengthens communities and economies, and the individual. That's certainly the consensus at ISB, home to dozens of nationalities.

Kaitlin describes herself as having had a relatively unglamorous school life in the South Wales Valleys before she came to ISB. "I remember being very excited when my father presented me with a number of options of where I would go to school in Beijing," Kaitlin says. "One of them was ISB, and I immediately and categorically chose that. It was quite clear where I needed to be in order to mix with the most diverse group of people and get the best education, access to the best facilities. I was interested in the fact that it wasn't based on any one national system and I was going to get diversity, something I hadn't experienced before."

With this emboldening education, she became fearless in public speaking and standing up to argue for her beliefs. Immigration lawyer was an obvious career choice for this Welsh dragon with international credentials. "Law was something I'd decided upon from the age of about 9," she explains. "I was always a debater, liked to argue. Having come to ISB and enjoyed so much dealing with people from different cultures and learning their languages, traditions, and customs, it seemed like immigration was a natural area for me to go into."

Being back at ISB conjured fond memories for Kaitlin. She caught up with veteran film teacher Breen O'Reilly and was once again in front of an audience in one of ISB's theaters. "We had some incredible teachers," Kaitlin remembers. "People like Mr. O'Reilly were able to reach people who were a bit disenfranchised. To have had teachers who both inspire and support you was very special.

"Another highlight was performing in a dance troupe, on this incredible stage, under the lighting. At school in Wales, we dined and performed on one really terrible stage. Having this state-of-the-art theater and being able to dance on it was pretty cool."

Her return to Beijing and discussion of an internship program also had her looking to the future – to her legal firm's growth, and how ISB students and alumni could contribute to that.

Kaitlin is keen for ISB students to be offered plenty of opportunities and to keep their horizons wide. The advice of this successful ISB alumna to the current crop? "Law was not a popular option among my peers, and I didn't have family in law, so it was an entirely new challenge. I'm very glad I took it. Even if you have no knowledge in a particular subject but it really appeals to you, don't follow the crowd, go explore what you think you will enjoy."

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